Diagon Alley - Gringotts ride review
Last night I attended a special advance preview of Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion. The new land, which opens in Universal Studios Orlando park on July 8th 2014, is incredible. I’ll detail the land further in future posts, but for now I will say this — its much bigger than you could ever expect and contains so much entertainment, so many cool experiences, and pieces of unique merchandise and cool food options. Its truly magical.

But this morning I thought I should give you my first impressions of Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the new flagship attraction which is the center of the new Diagon Alley expansion. Hit the jump to read my Gringotts ride review.

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Harry Potter Diagon Alley Opening Date Revealed

Harry potter stars announce Diagon alley opening date

I’m in Orlando covering the media happenings this week at Universal Orlando resort. This morning at the “State of the Universe” press conference, Universal heads and Harry Potter film co-stars were on hand to announce The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley opening date. Learn more after the jump.
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The Tales of Beedle the Bard show

As the clock ticks down to the grand opening of Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion, more details are being revealed. The newest bit is that author JK Rowling‘s The Tales of Beedle the Bard will be brought to life as part of the park’s new entertainment options. The trunk show, an adaptation of the first two stories from the children’s book (“The Fountain of Fair Fortune” and “The Tale of the Three Brothers”) will be performed by a troupe of four from the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts using “scenic pieces, props and puppetry fabricated by Emmy-award-winning designer Michael Curry.” You can get a first look at The Tales of Beedle the Bard show after the jump.

Universal Orlando has also revealed a second show that will be offered in the Wizarding World, more details about the entrance to the new expansion and information on how Muggles will be able to exchange currency at the Gringotts Money Exchange. All this and more, after the jump.

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The Hunger Games 5

Katniss Everdeen proved herself in the arena, but could she be getting her own theme park? It’s possible, based on the success of a new traveling Hunger Games exhibit Lionsgate just announced. Read more about that, and the following, in this edition of Theme Park Bits.

  • The Purge: Breakout is touring the country.
  • Watch a new commercial for Harry Potter‘s Diagon Alley.
  • Read about the new food Potter themed food selections.
  • See a ton of new photos of the expansion which is already ready to open
  • Watch a commercial for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.

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Harry Potter expansion invite

Universal Orlando Resort is gearing up for the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion sometime this Summer, but when could it be? Today select members of the press received a package from the owl delivery service (muggles know nothing of these kind of things)  inviting them to the media and VIP preview of the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion.

You can see more images of the official invite, a piece of art in its own right, after the jump. The invite lists the preview dates as June 17-20. Our friends at InsideTheMagic point out that the remainder of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will be opening on June 16, also likely part of the 4-day press event – So its very likely that the expansion will opening to the public on June 20th or around that time, although that is merely speculation.

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Disney Star Wars gift cards

There’s something for everyone in this edition of Theme Park Bits. From Back to the Future, to Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Little Mermaid, read about the following:

  • Is Back to the Future returning to Universal Studios Hollywood?
  • FastPass + is available to meet Mark Hamill and others at Star Wars Weekends.
  • You can own an original car from the Walt Disney World monorail.
  • Check out the new theater inside Animal Kingdom.
  • See original concept art from Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride.
  • What’s next for the Frozen franchise in the Disney theme parks?
  • Watch a video combining Darth Vader and cupcakes.
  • The Millennium Falcon takes center stage in a Star Wars Weekend promo.
  • The California Adventure Little Mermaid ride got a quiet upgrade.
  • Steven Spielberg speaks Japanese in new Universal Studios ad.
  • Video and images from the Hogwarts Express ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts video

Tuesday, Universal Studios Orlando opened the vault of secrets on their new ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. We saw concept art, heard about the story, read that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are all reprising their roles and Peter even interviewed the art director.

But all that, kind of, pales in comparison to just watching a video that takes all everything and compresses it into an exciting two minute tease. Check out a behind the scenes Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts video below. Read More »

Harry Potter Diagon Alley Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts secrets

This morning I got the chance to speak with Alan Gilmore, the Art Director of the Harry Potter films and Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I talked with Gilmore about the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride which was officially revealed this morning, and also got more details on the new Diagon Alley theme park expansion expected to open next month. (No official date has been released other than “Summer 2014.”)  Hit the jump to learn the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts secrets revealed from my interview and more.

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