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'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter': Here's what to expect from the new theme park section (+video)

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(Read caption) Universal Orlando released new details about the highly-anticipated Diagon Alley addition coming to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Fans anxiously awaiting the expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of Universal Studios in Florida recently got more details on what exactly park-goers will be able to experience when the new area opens this summer.

The current section of the park, which opened in 2010, represents Hogsmeade (the village located near magic school Hogwarts, for neophytes) and consists of various shops, restaurants, and three rides, which are a roller-coaster for small children, a slightly more intense roller-coaster involving dragons, and the ride titled “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” which takes place inside Hogwarts Castle. 

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The new expansion will add Diagon Alley, the shopping area located in London, to the Wizarding World. The new ride will be a roller-coaster located inside Gringotts Bank, the goblin-run institution where wizarding folk keep their money. The ride, reportedly titled “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts,” is said to be based on an incident in the seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” in which Harry and friends must flee Gringotts on the back of a dragon. A dragon will reportedly be on top of the Gringotts building and will release a ball of fire every so often.

David Mandt, vice president of communications for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, told CNN the new section has big shoes to fill.

“Park operators from around the world were impressed by the immersive experience Universal created and the meticulous attention to detail they used to bring the Harry Potter stories to life," he said. "There is great anticipation within the industry to see how Diagon Alley will build on that success.”

So what else will visitors see if they make a trip to “Harry Potter” land this summer? The outside of the attraction will be modeled after London, with facades for such buildings as the Leicester Square subway station, the Wyndham Theater, and Grimmauld Place (where Harry’s godfather Sirius Black lives) making up parts of the display. Visitors will then go to Diagon Alley through a Leicester Square archway. 

If fans are feeling hungry, they can visit both Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour or the Leaky Cauldron restaurant, which like the Three Broomsticks restaurant in Hogsmeade will serve British food as well as the famous wizarding drink butterbeer.

Stores that will be located inside Diagon Alley include Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the joke shop run by Ron Weasleys’ twin older brothers; the clothing store Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions; the sports store Quality Quidditch Supplies; and another location of the wand store Ollivanders. An Ollivanders shop is currently open in Hogsmeade, but as fans know, the original shop is found in Diagon Alley. A store found in the less savory Knockturn Alley in the books, Borgin and Burkes, will also be on the premises and will be selling creepy items.

If you want to see both the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley areas, a version of the Hogwarts Express, the train which students ride to reach the school, will be able to bring you back and forth.

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Neville Longbottom himself is said to approve: According to IGN, actor Matthew Lewis, who portrayed Neville in the film series, called the Gringotts ride “brilliant.”


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