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P. 611: Full Halloween Horror Nights 2021 lineup revealed!

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NOTE: Click HERE for our report from the Diagon Alley Media Day!

 

Just returned from the opening day of Diagon Alley - Here are some of my quick thoughts:

 

- While there were a lot of people there, the crowds were nowhere NEAR what I was expecting.

 

- I wasn't actually expecting to even get into the area today, nor get on the ride, and I did both with minimal wait, especially for an opening day of such an insanely hyped up attraction.

 

- I'm not a Potter person, and while much of the "story" of the ride was lost on me, I actually liked it, much better than Forbidden Journey.

 

- Gringotts is BARELY a roller coaster. It has a small coaster section, about the size of half of Hollywood's Mummy backward section or maybe ... *maybe* as long as the coaster section of Journey to Atlantis (Orlando version.)

 

- The ride is mostly a Spider-Man/Indy type of dark ride with 3-D media, physical sets, and motion vehicle movements. If you're expecting a roller coaster like "Mummy", that's not what this is. Not at all.

 

- We ended up getting to the park at 7:15 in the morning, was let into Diagon Alley at 8:20, got in the single rider line for Gringotts at 8:55, and was done by 11:00am. I feel that's not bad at all for opening day!

 

- From what we could tell it looked like they were running the ride at half capacity. They were only using one loading station and four ride vehicles. It also broke down (we think) five times during our two hour wait for probably an average of about 10 minutes. The single rider line actually was moving pretty quickly when the ride was working!

 

Here are some photos and video clips from our morning...

 

We arrived at 7:15am....

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Current crowd status entering at Universal Studios Orlando Citywalk ... NONE!

 

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Wow! Pathways leading up to at Universal Studios Orlando are empty! Was not expecting this!

 

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Special at Universal Studios Orlando park map for the opening of Diagon Alley.

 

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No line at the turnstiles right now! (Thanks to Attractions Magazine for this photo!

 

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Last chance to get your Coca-Cola products before entering the Coke-less world of Harry Potter!

 

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Current crowd to get into Diagon Alley only back to old Amity restrooms. Not bad at all! Was expecting much worse!

 

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley is now OPEN!!!

 

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I see ClubTPR members in line for Diagon Alley! REPRESENT!

 

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2nd group walking into Diagon Alley now - 20 min after official opening.

 

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Letting crowd in through one of the exits to avoid crowd control issues.

 

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Here is the actual entrance. I think if all the people try to pour through this at one time it might have been trouble!

 

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Current line for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts wraps around huge area of Diagon Alley

 

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Lots of people inside Diagon Alley - Crowd not moving anywhere, though.

 

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Dragon fire in Diagon Alley

 

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C'mon Dragon... You know you want some!!!

 

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Gringotts is open but line is sort of chaotic. No clue if we are waiting for the ride or not!

 

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Current wait 150 minutes. Mixed signals if single rider is open or not. No one seems to really know!

 

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"I breathe fire on you because that's what I do!"

 

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Currently waiting in a mass of people in line for Gringotts. Lots of line jumping. Very unorganized.

 

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Quick selfie with Michael Aiello and Patrick! Congrats on Diagon Alley guys!

 

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Temporary queue area now being set up for Gringotts. Park is starting to get the line under control now.

 

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Line for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts now up to 300 minutes. Single Rider line OPEN!

 

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We've moved pretty far in the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts single rider line in only 15 minutes!

 

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30 minutes in the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts single rider line and almost to glasses pickup!

 

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We have our Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts goggles! Hope it won't be much longer now!

 

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The Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts goblin say it's a roller coaster! Credit whores rejoice!

 

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Been in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts single rider line one hour. I think we are pretty close to riding!

 

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It looks like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts spins!

 

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Final staircase in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts single rider line took 90 min. Would've been faster but it's broken down a few times.

 

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Been just over two hours in the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts single rider line and we are almost there!

 

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Only five people away! Almost time to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

 

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I'm in the boarding area for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Orlando Diagon Alley Next to ride!!!

 

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LOL! We are next to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and it just broke down again!

 

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And Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is back up and running again!!

 

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Here is my mini-review of Gringott's:

Just rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida. Quick review: liked it MUCH better than Forbidden Journey. To a non-Potter fan, the story made more sense and the effects were GREAT! Very little coaster section. About half the length of Hollywood's backwards Mummy section. It's honestly borderline a "coaster credit" but I feel it wouldn't be worth the argument for counting it or not. It's mostly a "Spider-Man/Indy" dark ride with 3-D media, physical sets, and motion effects. THUMBS UP!!!

 

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Current wait time for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringottsat Universal Studios Orlando - 375 minutes!

 

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The rest of Diagon Alley does not appear that busy at the moment.

 

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Everyone is in line for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts! Here's the overflow line outside of the main building.

 

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OMG!!! Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts line up to 450 minutes!

 

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The streets & shops of Diagon Alley have people, but they aren't as packed as I would have expected.

 

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Even the wand shops were not that busy!

 

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Bethany making it rain on Matt from Attractions Magazine!

 

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Some of the street entertainment includes jazz music from the Celestina show! Great stuff!

 

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Heading out of Diagon Alley Streets are not that busy... Everyone is in line for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts!

 

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Current wait to get into the Diagon Alley area is 2 1/2 hours!

 

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My favorite shirt I've seen all day at Diagon Alley! Gotta pay respects to Jaws!

 

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Current wait times for other attractions.

 

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Universal is currently handing out return time tickets to get into Diagon Alley

 

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So overall. We got to at Universal Studios Orlando at 7:30am. They opened the area at 8:05 after a short grand opening ceremony. Our group was let into Diagon Alley by 8:20. Rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts by 11am. Not a bad opening day!

 

Huge thanks to Matt for Attractions Magazine hanging out with us today!

 

NOTE: Click HERE for our report from the Diagon Alley Media Day!

Edited by robbalvey
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Talk about perfect timing. Just saw that JK Rowling released a new book online following the events of the last Potter book. A new book and new land must be a Potter fans dream come true.

 

I thought that was just a short story.

 

Indeed, I meant short story. Not a new book. I'm sure she will write a new Potter book sometime.

 

Thanks for posting the photos. I'm glad to hear Gringotts was better than Journey. It's hard for me to really like this new area even though it looks amazing. I never read a book and only saw the first 4 movies. But at least it looks great and now with it open, Universal can focus on new attractions.

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Haven't heard too much about Hogwarts Express! How have the lines been for that today?

 

Also, Universal opened the park (well allowed guests to line outside of the Diagon Alley entrance) at 5:30 this morning to probably reduce the crowds waiting to get inside the park.

 

Also, I imagine that Universal wanted to let as many people into Diagon Alley but still be enjoyable. That's probably why the shops weren't shoulder to shoulder walking and maneuvering.

 

I think Universal handled the opening pretty well but wow the wait time for Gringotts! Is it just a ride with not much capacity or was that many people in line!

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Was there a huge applause from the riders returning from their trip through Gringotts?? After I rode USH's Transformers during previews, my entire car cheered the staff and clapped like crazy.

 

It really made the whole experience feel special and unique--and I'm sure the ride-ops/cast members appreciated it. I'm sure from looking at the vines, the riders came back with huge smiles and thunderous applause (that is, of course, if the ride didn't break down! )

 

Looks like you guys had fun. I'm living vicariously through all the USF park-goers on instagram or twitter, lol

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Haven't heard too much about Hogwarts Express! How have the lines been for that today?

Last I heard it was about 45 minutes, but that was around 11:00-11:30 this morning.

 

 

 

Also, Universal opened the park (well allowed guests to line outside of the Diagon Alley entrance) at 5:30 this morning to probably reduce the crowds waiting to get inside the park.

 

Also, I imagine that Universal wanted to let as many people into Diagon Alley but still be enjoyable. That's probably why the shops weren't shoulder to shoulder walking and maneuvering.

 

I think Universal handled the opening pretty well but wow the wait time for Gringotts! Is it just a ride with not much capacity or was that many people in line!

 

They definitely were better prepared this time around. But it was a combination of things that made it go smoother, like letting them in early, having the queues out of the way of the main traffic areas, and a middle of the week opening. ...Plus Diagon Alley has higher capacity than Hogsmeade and you have a 6 hour line for Gringotts.

 

As for Gringotts, it was a little of both. I believe they were running 3 of the possible 7 trains, so it was running at about half capacity, but there was also a lot of people in line. So, when you have a six hour wait for Gringotts, the rest of DA is probably going to look a little less crowded.

 

On a side note, I've only heard of 2 break downs so far today for Gringotts. I would consider that a success at this point.

Edited by alpengeist04
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On a side note, I've only heard of 2 break downs so far today for Gringotts. I would consider that a success at this point.

There were four times while we were in the single rider line where we could hear the ride wasn't running for about ten minutes, and then we would hear cheering from everyone in the queue when it started going again. It was also really obvious when it was broken because the single rider line wouldn't move, then you'd hear the cheers, hear the ride going, and then the line would move again.

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I will say every time it broke down they got it going again within 10-15 minutes. Not bad. When the ride is up and running more consistently, I think the single rider line will be a good option. It really moved when the ride was working!

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Does the single rider line bypass the elevator and preshow? Where does it split/merge?

It does. It puts you into the room with the spiral staircase and single rider had their own staircase. Both the regular line and single rider merge right at the top so they can put uneven parties together.

Edited by robbalvey
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Does the single rider line bypass the elevator and preshow? Where does it split/merge?

It does. It puts you into the room with the spiral staircase and single rider had their own staircase. Both the regular line and single rider merge right at the top so they can put uneven parties together.

 

Sounds like a good setup. I assume there's a tour-only line like Forbidden Journey to just see the preshow?

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Looks like Universal has another winner on their hands. I remember when Forbidden Journey opened and the lines were nearly to the park entrance, but this ride has four times the capacity and still had wait times of 450 minutes. It took 160 minutes to get through the single rider line? WOW! Years ago, many enthusiasts thought it was stupid for Universal to build anything Harry Potter related. That was a funny time. Now we have one of the most detailed theme park environments in the US. I need to make a trip down to check it out myself.

 

 

-chris "and I actually don't like harry potter, but this ish looks awesome" con

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Does the single rider line bypass the elevator and preshow? Where does it split/merge?

It does. It puts you into the room with the spiral staircase and single rider had their own staircase. Both the regular line and single rider merge right at the top so they can put uneven parties together.

 

Sounds like a good setup. I assume there's a tour-only line like Forbidden Journey to just see the preshow?

 

Nope, the only people who will see the queue are people lining up to ride the ride. No Hogwarts-esque tour line this time.

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I assume there's a tour-only line like Forbidden Journey to just see the preshow?

I never even knew this existed! I'm also assuming it's there because the height restriction of that ride is 48" which is much higher than most family rides like it here in Orlando (most are between 38" - 42") so that way younger kids could at least see some of the Potter stuff?

 

Gringotts is 42" so it doesn't have that same problem.

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Before I start, I will say that I am a potter fan. So if I sound insane, biased, and am just "fanboying" all over the place, you know why.

 

 

Reading the books, watching the movies, and then actually being able to live the world is a dream come true. Even to non-potter fans, it's hard to deny that this whole land is beautiful and amazingly detailed. In my opinion, you "Leave" Universal and enter a whole new world.

 

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is mind blowing. The ride system is fantastic and the "coaster" sections are indeed short like Robb said but they pack a punch for the first time. If you want to not be lost in the story and want it to make sense, go through the regular queue. In single riders you bypass the entire preshow and the lift. To me the lift makes the Stretching room at Haunted Mansion seem like a county fair ride, I was mind boggled both times I got on the lift. To non potter fans, the preshow explains why you're at Gringotts. You're here to open an account and the goblins are going to take you to your vault, but in good old Universal fashion, something goes terribly wrong. After riding through and returning to the station my entire cart erupted in applause. The show scenes are massive, filled with detail and beautiful transitions. I was lucky enough to ride twice, once with no wait, second with about 45 minutes. First time in the back very back row, second in the very first row.

 

I arrived at Universal around 5:50 or so. Not a car in sight, even the toll plaza was empty. They were prepared for the rush that just didn't come at that time.

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They had barricades running from Fossil all the way to IOA and back. Lined with staff and carts, but still not many guests in sight.

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Park was open to let guests in, but still not many to be seen.

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Barricades and staff wrapped around Simpsons and MIB, but I finally made it. about 500 or so in London, everyone else waited outside.

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My view point of the opening. The ceremony was short and sweet. The fireworks set off were in the colors of the four houses which I thought was a nice touch.

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Looking back, shows just how many guests arrived after me.

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With the ceremony finished, we were let in. They gave us the red carpet treatment, literally. Confetti was flying everywhere and the streets were lined with all the shop keepers. The amount of tears shed around me was astounding.

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I threw my bag in the fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo and darted for the single riders queue, which at this point no one was using. Everyone darted for the regular queue, which was at a 75 when I entered.

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They only had 2 rvs, but each rv has two carts with each holding twelve. My first time and I went straight on with no wait. So I went back in line and rode again, this time waiting for 45minutes.

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Leaving after my second ride, the wait time jumped to 300. There was even a wait for the fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo. I saw nothing but organized chaos when I left. No pushing, shoving, no angry guests. I was shocked thinking I was in a dream, but I think everyone was just high off of Butterbeer ice cream.

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Required fire dragon shot.

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Confetti, Confetti everywhere!

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After leaving, the line wrapped backstage into the queues for HHN and all the way to Transformers.

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Now for some random shots taken from the past few days.

 

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Overall, I give it 23.5 out of 10 stars, Universal definitely stepped up their game. .

Edited by simtanic8
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The ride system is fantastic and the "coaster" sections are indeed short like Robb said but they pack a punch for the first time.

Wow! Great pictures! I did just want to clear something up, though - There really is only one "coaster section" in the ride. The first one. That's the only time it really uses gravity to propel the ride vehicle. All the other places that are you moving along it's not "coasting", but is powered and controlled as the car moves along the track much like Spider-Man or Indiana Jones is. It goes fast (or more like briskly) in other places, but it's not actually "coasting" in the same way Test Track, while it's going 60+MPH, is not actually "coasting."

 

Just wanted to make that clear!

 

Thanks for the update! Great stuff!

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Thank you guys for the reports! Seems like it is a pretty successful opening day overall.

 

One thing I was wondering, does anyone have an overview shot of the land? Like a layout of the streets and where the coaster/train/shops/food places are all located? There may have been a shot of the park map or something but I missed it. Thanks!

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Can someone clear this up for me please:

 

What in the hell is a giant bridge thing doing in the middle of the entrance? At the top of the photo below.

 

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In promotional images, it showed a train crossing this section, but that clearly doesn't happen in real life.

 

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Its just a large walkway.

 

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So, is this train track in the story? I don't remember it in the movie. It just really seems weird and out of place. Can anyone explain it?

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^ I don't know how it's "explained" but walking under it is just would appear to be an elevated train that would be part of the London Underground. You hear train noises like you would in London. I'm not a Potter person so I have no clue how it fits into any stories, but as a non-Potter person, it didn't seem out of place or weird in any way.

 

Kind of reminded me a bit of the elevated train at Toyko DisneySea, except that you just don't actually see it.

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Thank you guys for the reports! Seems like it is a pretty successful opening day overall.

 

One thing I was wondering, does anyone have an overview shot of the land? Like a layout of the streets and where the coaster/train/shops/food places are all located? There may have been a shot of the park map or something but I missed it. Thanks!

From the park map:

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