We’ve passed an important PotterWatch milestone this week: we’re most likely less than one month away from the public premiere of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. This update will examine some new lighting along the London Waterfront, the newly revealed Hogsmeade transition area outside the original Wizarding World, and some recently revealed Leaky Cauldron food and beverage details.
London Waterfront Lighting
I took a stroll along the London Waterfront outside Diagon Alley at “magic hour” to capture some of the lighting features throughout the area. Let’s start with a panoramic overview of the construction area:
This purple illumination on the King’s Cross clock tower confuses me. Perhaps it is some sort of magical effect, or an unfinished test? Time will tell…
Neon signage in the record shop next to Leicester Square advertised “Used Rare New”.
Chandeliers can be seen through the windows of Wyndham’s Theatre.
The lamps at the top of the gateway are also illuminated.
Along the shoreline embankment, the walls appear to be completely stained.
Behind Diagon Alley, the forested berm appears more or less complete.
Diagon Alley Return Ticket Kiosks
As reported previously, the service area relief area between Men In Black and Fear Factor Live will be used to distribute timed return tickets (not unlike the old paper FastPasses) for entering Diagon Alley. Not only have the kiosks been installed, but they were operational the other evening! You will be given a choice of time slots in which to return for entry to the London Waterfront through the gates near Fear Factor.
Not coincidentally, the kiosks formerly located in the Triceratops Trail area of Jurassic Park are no longer there.
Gringotts Dragon Sightlines
Ever since the Gringotts dragon was installed on top of the Diagon Alley bank, fans have been wondering how visible it will be from various places around the park. For starters, the Dragon is completely invisible from anywhere along the London Waterfront outside Diagon Alley, which is the most important place to conceal it from a theming perspective. Once you cross the bridge towards Men In Black, you can see a semi-obscured side view of the dragon from near the Roboasis Coke display.
From the Simpsons waterfront behind Duff Brewery, the dragon is again hidden by the London Waterfront facades.
The further you move along the lagoon towards Central Park, the more of the dragon is revealed. Your closest view is from behind Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck.
More side views are visible from Battery Park around to the Transformers ride. As you walk towards Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash-Up, the buildings of San Francisco again hide the dragon until you approach the London Waterfront. Obviously, the dragon is blocked by buildings throughout most of the Production Central, Hollywood, and New York sections of the park, but for guests passing Mel’s diner it should serve as a powerful “weenie.”
Over in Islands of Adventure, construction walls came down on one side of the border between The Lost Continent and the Wizarding World, giving us our first look at the newly landscaped Hogsmeade transition across from the Hogwarts Express train station.
The rockwork and trees work well to beautify this brief walkway, and is much better than the tacky carnival games that once stood here. But the plain wooden fence behind the trees still seems like a bit of a compromise.
Nearby, more walls have been removed around Hogsmeade Station. We’ve heard that team members have been testing the train regularly in recent days.
Leaky Cauldron Food and Beverage Preview
The internet was buzzing last week with word of the specialty foods that Chef Steve Jayson has cooked up for Diagon Alley. The official Universal Orlando blog released this Leaky Cauldron food and beverage preview, and our friend Jim Hill got a personal taste test. We can’t wait to try the many types of pies, imported cheeses, and scotch eggs, washed down with Fishy Green Ale (mint tea with blueberry tapioca). Plus, it was confirmed that Florean Fortescue’s will serve Butterbeer ice cream!
Finally, here’s one of the latest souvenirs you can find in IoA’s Trading Company store: Gryffindor boxer shorts.