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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

p. 623 - New Epic Universe details, including Celestial Park!

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I was watching the red carpet event on the internet and I just wanted to freak out. I can't wait to step foot in Diagon Alley. The annual pass will be getting a work out. Oh the butterbeer ice cream it looks amazing. Is it?

 

I admit that I'm intrigued by the ice cream, too.

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This week's Diagon Alley Media Event continued with a morning filled with celebrity encounters, lots of food and time to explore more of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter...

 

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What a view to wake up to!

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The inside of the Leaky Cauldron restaurant is much bigger than I expected!

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The morning started with several Q&A sessions, starting with the expansion's creative leaders.

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Next up was the Harry Potter film star group of Domnahll Gleeson, Robbie Coltrane and Warwick Davis.

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Seriously stunning.

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The dragon really is the focal point of Diagon Alley at least based on the view from the main entrance.

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The panels continued with more stars from the films...

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We even had the chance to see the dragon breath fire!

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Tom Felton and Helena Bonham Carter spoke on the last panel of the day.

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Here is the copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that is earmarked with all of the possible food items that had not been ripped into the real world at the time Diagon Alley was being conceived or were pulled for Hogsmeade.

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Executive Chef, Steven Jaysen showed off his latest creation, Fishy Green Ale.

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The actual Leaky Cauldron.

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Here's the menu from the Leaky Cauldron...

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And I just had to try some of the Fishy Green Ale (the fishy part is edible blueberry flavor balls like boba tea).

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Toad in a Hole!

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Fisherman's Pie (my favorite of the visit)!

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Here's the Ploughman's Platter for two.

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Anyone up for dessert?

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I love this place so much!

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Home to Butterbeer Ice Cream... My new life blood.

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Magical Menagerie is home to some wild beasts... And that's just where you can find them.

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Any idea on what this is supposed to be? It's not a macaw, no, because of its claws.

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Magical Menagerie is a nicely sized store specializing in creature plush available for purchase.

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I took a turn down the dark path of Knockturn Alley where the dark wizards dwell...

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Should I go further?

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Knockturn Alley is entirely enclosed and gives off a totally "dark" feel to it, unlike the rest of Diagon Alley.

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Nope, it was actually 11:00 am at the time this photo was taken.

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Pulled straight from the movies!

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Borgin & Burke looks great inside!

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There are some very peculiar things that happen inside of Knockturn Alley...

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Like this for example.

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Weasley's Wizard Wheezes builds on the momentum from the former Zonkos, with more merchandise options and a much larger space for guests.

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And I thought it looked big on the outside!

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Ready to stock up on some Quidditch gear?

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In case you were wondering what the entrance to Diagon Alley looks like from the inside.

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So much detail!

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Just look at this beauty!

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Carkitt Market is cleverly designed with a huge glass roof structure.

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Already sampled your options last night...

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Lots of small storefronts built practically on top of each other.

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The Gringotts Bank Exchange is where you can purchase really Gringotts currency to be used anywhere at the Universal Orlando Resort (think Disney Dollars).

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A place to get more themed beverages...

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It is beautiful!

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Maker of secondary wand options?

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So much to see in Diagon Alley!

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This park's Owl Post is much larger the one found in Hogsmeade.

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There is no bad angle to be had when it comes to photographing Diagon Alley!

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It appears that the new interactive wands are already for sale in Ollivander's on Diagon Alley.

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Along with some character wands.

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A neat display in another shop within Diagon Alley...

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Time to check out the original (technically not) Ollivander's in Diagon Alley...

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Looks fantastic!

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And our wand keeper was fantastic too!

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Ring the bell!

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She's been chosen by a wand!

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Where could I be going next?

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That's right...

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Deeper into King's Cross Station we go!

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Platform 9 3/4ths? That's the way to go.

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Here she is!

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For you signage lovers.

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I got an entire train car to myself.

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It features authentic British snacks!

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There's actually a food and beverage stand in the queue for the Hogwarts Express...

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It does exist!

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So incredible!

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Time to head into Platform 9 3/4!

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The Pepper's Ghost effect is simple but extremely effective!

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Disappear!

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Disappear!

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There's trouble brewing on the way from London to Hogsmeade...

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Harry, Ron and Hermione stand right outside of your cabin on the Hogwarts Express in an incredibly realistic frosted glass effect that impresses when the characters get especially close to the window.

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Both directions of the train pass Malfoy Manor along the way, though the experience is different each way.

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Deatheaters must be present!

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Dementors on the train!

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Expecto Patronum!

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The essential treat trolley experience on the Hogwarts Express is partially replicated in the form of an appearance, but you can't buy any snacks from this trolley.

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Hagrid drops in on his flying motorcycle to wave hello!

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The enchanted Ford Anglia flies by too as you near the Forbidden Forest.

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The approach to Hogwarts Castle is a powerful moment for sure!

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Now approaching Hogsmeade Station!

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Hagrid waves goodbye as the Hogwarts Express leaves Hogsmeade Station to make its way to Kings Cross Station...

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You don't just see shadows on the frosted glass in the Hogwarts Express, you see amazing depth. The effect is fantastic!

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Buckbeak the Hippogriff makes an appearance on the return trip from Hogsmeade to London.

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Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest follow the train as it moves back towards London.

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Coming in for a close call!

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Shameless plug for the new expansion!

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Voldemort (the antagonist of the entire book/film series) makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance on the trip from Hogsmeade to London just before passing Malfoy Manor.

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If you blink, you'll miss him getting struck by lightning and turning into a tree. I'm not making this up!

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I love this effect!

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The Knight Bus makes an appearance in London as well...

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This incredible bus arrives in London at the same time we do, just in time to park along the London Waterfront to see it in person...

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And like magic it is here!

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The driver and the shrunken head are outside ready to interact with you!

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In the window of the London Waterfront record shop facade this record makes another reference to Jaws, the dearly departed attraction that bite the electric wire to make way for Diagon Alley.

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The London Waterfront facades mask a huge Diagon Alley expansion that has surpassed expectations on all levels!

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Behind these walls are exciting new rides, theming, shows, food, beverages, interactive experiences and tons of detail that just has to be seen!

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Special thanks to the Universal Orlando Resort for hosting us this week to experience all of the incredible new additions to the resort!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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So the Tonight Show is basically an hour long advertisement for Universal and Diagon alley tonight. I can't imagine how much that must have cost Universal but they're really raising the bar when it comes to marketing new theme park attractions.

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So the Tonight Show is basically an hour long advertisement for Universal and Diagon alley tonight. I can't imagine how much that must have cost Universal but they're really raising the bar when it comes to marketing new theme park attractions.

 

 

The Tonight Show is on NBC... NBC and Universal are the same company... They still did regular commercials so they in essence got other companies to pay for their hour long "advertisement."

 

I have it on the DVR, but won't watch it until tomorrow.

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I don't think it is too much Harry Potter as there are some really cool experiences to pull from these two lands such as the Forbidden Journey, Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, the new gifts from the shops, and the new food and drink creations. This just shows what Universal is capable of doing. They did add Despicable Me and Transformers in the past two years. They are building something new at Islands of Adventure over by Jurassic Park as well probably something for 2016. Universal keeps on expanding and adding one of a kind experiences.

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I don't think it is too much Harry Potter as there are some really cool experiences to pull from these two lands such as the Forbidden Journey, Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, the new gifts from the shops, and the new food and drink creations. This just shows what Universal is capable of doing. They did add Despicable Me and Transformers in the past two years. They are building something new at Islands of Adventure over by Jurassic Park as well probably something for 2016. Universal keeps on expanding and adding one of a kind experiences.

 

Agreed. The 5 year plan for Universal, if it holds true, is pretty amazing, and it does not include any additional Harry Potter stuff after this year.

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Great photos! And one fantastic preview / reveiew of the area. Thanks! I am very much looking forward to getting back to Florida to check out the park. The execution is just simply stunning. The food looks absolutely fantastic. I really shouldn't read the reviews while hungry!

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As always, thank you for the update Adam. I think we will try to go check things out sometime in the next week - to see what we can see.

 

For those waiting on the crowds to "die down" in this area - I'd like to help manage your expectations. They won't. The original Potterverse in IoA is STILL very crowded. I've learned to except it and still enjoy the area for what it is.

 

From what I've read - the Gringott's ride will not be available on Express Pass (like the Forbidden Journey.) What we have done, when we have friends in town who really want to ride Forbidden Journey - is get there around opening - go there and be prepared to wait a while (the line gets much longer as the day goes on.) Luckily - the queue lines are very well themed - so there is stuff to look at while you wait.

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With any luck, Diagon Alley may take some of the crowds away from Hogsmeade--but I wouldn't count on that, either. It should make lines for the non-Potter attractions more manageable.

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From what I've read - the Gringott's ride will not be available on Express Pass (like the Forbidden Journey.) What we have done, when we have friends in town who really want to ride Forbidden Journey - is get there around opening - go there and be prepared to wait a while (the line gets much longer as the day goes on.) Luckily - the queue lines are very well themed - so there is stuff to look at while you wait.

 

I've heard the same thing.

 

When we go, we are that crazy family that gets there fairly early for the "rope drop" inside, and then runs to whichever major attraction we are wanting to get on. This year will be Gringott's and possibly the Hogwarts Express. We have done this with Forbidden Journey and many times get to ride it twice before a bulk of the people even make it there.

 

Of course, we will NOT shove, push, or generally freak anyone out by cutting close to them. I saw some kids do this once at a different park and scared the crap out of some poor mom and her kid in a stroller. Not cool.

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Now they just need to find a way to make teleportation work so they can send you by flu powder to Potterland 3.0. Seriously though, have to wonder if they have any plans to further expand the Potter universe in Orlando with three more Potter related films coming out, or if this is it. If they knew it was going to be this successful, I wonder if they would have considered making it it's own entire park.

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There are two different experiences, one for the journey to Hogsmeade from Diagon Alley and the other for the trip from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley. Based on everything we were told during the media week, those are the only two experiences set for the Hogwarts Express.

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