Diagon Alley Tour Part 1: London Waterfront, Diagon Alley Entrance, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

So far I've written about the two new rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley expansion: Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express, the amazing interactive wands that let anyone perform magic throughout the wizarding worlds,  and today I wanted to finally give you guys a virtual Diagon Alley tour, showing you around the new land in Universal Studios Orlando theme park.

Diagon Alley Tour map

The first thing that surprised me about Diagon Alley was how huge the area is. You really can't get a sense of the scale of this new Wizarding World from the photos and videos. Most of visuals make it look like Diagon Alley is just a small street leading up to Gringotts bank. The land is actually made up of a series of streets (Horizont Alley, Carkitt Market) that help form a big P shape, as well as a bunch of smaller side streets (I would use the word alley, but...). You can see an illustrated version of the Diagon Alley map above.

The second thing that quickly became apparent was how amazingly detailed this new world is. Hogsmeade, the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universsal's Islands of Adventure, is considered some of the best land theme design in the world of theme parks, but Diagon Alley even takes it up a few more notches.

Most of the locations within Diagon Alley are inspired by locations mentioned in the books, accurate reproductions of locations seen in the films, or adaptations of stories or details from the Harry Potter mythology. Casual fans will see all the details from the movies come to life, while hardcore fans will recognize tons of easter eggs and tiny details in every little corner.

universal london waterfront

King's Cross Station at Universal Orlando

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the knight bus

The London Waterfront

The Diagon Alley experience begins at Universal Studios Orlando's London waterfront, complete with King's Cross station which serves as a train station which contains the secret entrance to track 9/3 and the Hogwarts Express. We've previously told you about this ride experience that brings guests to and from Hogsmeade. Also see photos inside the station and ride here.

The waterfront also is home of the three-story purple knight bus from the films (the bus also appears outside the window on one of the Hogwarts Express rides). The bus features an animatronic version of the shrunken head character Dre Head hanging from the drivers seat. The head is puppeteered remotely and voiced live, so it is completely interactive. Dre Head also hilariously interacts with a live castmember playing the bus conductor in funny scripted sequences.

A Closer Look:  Another detail many fans may miss in the run towards Diagon Alley is the door to 12 Grimmauld Place. While no one is available to answer the door, Kreacher the House Elf will occasionally peer out from one of the windows.

Harry Potter Mythology: The address was featured in the Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows movies and books. 12 Grimmauld Place was used as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix and is the home to Sirius Black's family.

Wizarding World's Diagon Alley entrance

Wizarding World's Diagon Alley entrance

Wizarding World's Diagon Alley entrance

The Entrance to Diagon Alley

The entrance to Diagon Alley is hidden by a few slanted brick walls which look solid from the front view. As you enter and walk around the slanted walls, you will hear the bricks transforming on the other side. Of course, the brick wall does not actually move, but when you get to the other side you will see the transforming wall stuck in time as a sculpture.

Harry Potter Mythology: In the books and movie, the entrance to Diagon Alley is hidden behind the Leaky Cauldron in a small, walled courtyard. Diagon Alley can only be accessed by tapping a specific brick in the wall which causes the bricks to transform creating  a large archway. In the books there are other entrances as well.

Hit the next page to explore Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

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Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

When you enter Diagon Alley, on the corner on your right is the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, the iconic joke and toy store run by Fred and George Weasley. The store is an amazing accurate reproduction of the store seen in the films, complete with a giant animatronic Fred Weasley on the sign out front with a rabbit appearing and disappearing from under the top hat on top of Weasley's head.

The store sells toys, candy and practical joke, some of which have been featured in the books and seen in the films. Some of the items include Extendable Ears, Skiving Snackboxes and Pygmy Puffs. The store is three levels, although the first level is the only one that guests are allowed on — the others are filled with a lot of cool set decorations, some replicas from the movies, seemlessly blended with the first floor and the real products you can actually purchase. Although some will be left disappointed they can't purchase some of the prop toys from the films. I wish they would sell replicas of the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes boxes for gifts purchased at the shop.

Harry Potter Mythology: While still students at Hogwarts, Fred and George Weasley developed a bunch of practical joke products which they sold mail order via owl-post. They won the money to finance the store from Harry Potter's un-wanted Triwizard Tournament winnings.

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A Closer Look:  A box of Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs are "accidentally" set-off on one of the stairways above. If you look up you will notice fireworks exploding on screens that represent the roof of the shop.

Skiving Snackbox at diagon alley

Skiving Snackbox opened at diagon alley

Pigmy puffs

Unique Buys: Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes offers two notable items from the Wizarding World:

  • Pigmy Puffs appeared in both the films and books, these miniature Puffskeins that look like little fluffy pink or purple balls that roll around and squeak.  They offer full size stuffed animal versions for $14.95 and smaller keychain versions for $9.95. While the Pigmy Puffs can be purchased elsewhere in the Wizarding World (Magical Menagerie), Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes offers an exclusive naming ceremony, a mini-show that accompanies purchasing a pygmy puff plush, in which the store employees will ring a bell and announce that someone has adopted a Pigmy Puff and reveal the chosen name.
  • The Weasley's Skiving Snackbox is exclusive to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, not available anywhere else. The collectible box costs $39.99 and comes packed with four different kinds of candy: Fainting Fancies, Nosebleed Nuggets, Fever Fudge (vanilla fudge jelly beans), and Puking Pastilles (hard boiled sweets).

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Tomorrow we'll be back to continue our Diagon Alley tour.

Check out my other articles on Universal Orlando's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion: