The ability to trade real money for a goblin currency
Aside from the fact that the Diagon Alley addition brings with it a huge, real-life version of the goblin-run Gringotts Bank, there’ll be actual Wizarding Bank Notes. These you can obtain by exchanging real money at the bank, if you’re brave enough to request them of the goblin tellers. These notes are legal tender within Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and can be used for purchasing snacks and souvenirs from the shops.
Two—count ‘em—TWO Ollivander’s wand shops
Without a doubt one of the most popular experiences of the original Hogsmeade portion of the Wizarding World is the Ollivander’s Wand Shop, where small groups are privy to the magical choosing of a wand (or, rather, being chosen by the wand). The interaction is immersive, and the line for Ollivander’s typically stretches through Hogsmeade. As such, Universal Studios has made the smart decision to open a second branch within Diagon Alley. Naturally, wands will be available for purchase in shops within both portions of the park.
A live band
Live music is coming to the Carkitt Market area within Diagon Alley in the form of singing group “Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees,” who’ll perform three original songs (“A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love,” “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart” and “You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me”) whose titles are direct from the pen of J.K. Rowling. Celestina, according to the Harry Potter novels, is the favorite singer of Molly Weasley.
An interactive Knight Bus experience
Every Potter fan knows about the Knight Bus, a triple-decker London Routemaster painted purple, whose driver is a lively shrunken head. He’s got a tongue on him, and to recreate the banter between the head and Harry Potter, visitors will be able to chat withe Knight Bus’ conductor, as well as pose for photos.
Imported English cheese!
Dining is a huge piece of the Wizarding World experience, and it goes so extremely far beyond the hot dog stands and funnel cakes typical of other theme parks. Universal Studios offers full, sit-down restaurants like Three Broomsticks (Hogsmeade) and The Leaky Cauldron (Diagon Alley), plus a bar (Hog’s Head Pub) and even more quick bite options.
What Diagon Alley brings is a whole new menu for The Leaky Cauldron, complete with imported English cheeses for items like the Ploughman’s Platter, classic recipes like the “Toad in the Hole” sausage in a Yorkshire pudding and an egg, leek and mushroom pasty, and desserts of Cranachan and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Seriously foodie flavors of ice cream
As if the Chocolate Potted Cream at The Leaky Cauldron wasn’t enough, Diagon Alley is going full foodie with seriously unique ice cream flavors within Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. Earl Grey Lavender, Clotted Cream and Butterbeer are only a few of the flavors; we won’t spoilt the whole surprise.
A fake dragon who breathes real fire
It’s in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Harry Potter gets his closest encounter with Gringotts Bank and the guardian of the vaults, a fire-breathing dragon. Guess who’ll be hanging out at Universal Studios’ Gringotts? And yes, it will breathe real fire, which is perfect for a shot of adrenaline before riding the newest thrill ride, “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts."
Last but not least, more beer!
In response to guest demands for a larger beer selection at the Hog’s Head Pub, the WIzarding World is now rolling out two more draughts on tap: “Wizard’s Brew” and “Dragon Scale.”
Non-alcoholic options are also expanding beyond the Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice found in Hogsmeade; Diagon Alley will introduce “Tongue Tying Lemon Squash,” “Peachtree Fizzing Tea,” “Fishy Green Ale” and more. Kids will beg to visit Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment stand, where guests choose a mix-in for “Gillywater” to create a drinkable potion.
Stay tuned, because in just a couple weeks we’ll be live from Universal Orlando’s preview of the expanded Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and rest assured we’ll be sharing observations and photos from every corner of both the new Diagon Alley and the original Hogsmeade.
[Images: Universal Orlando, Jaunted]