Experience The Magic At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s New Diagon Alley Expansion

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Hogwart's Express concept art from InPark Magazine

Two announcements have rocked the Harry Potter fandom in recent months: J.K. Rowling regrets putting Ron and Hermione together and Universal Studios is expanding The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In 2010, Universal Studios brought the magic to life with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The new area quickly became one of the most popular attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, increasing total park attendance by nearly 36% in 2010. More recently, Universal has teamed up with J.K. Rowling and 60 of the film franchise’s artists to expand the popular section of the park. The new Diagon Alley area is expected to open this summer, and Harry Potter fans can’t wait to see what the expansion has in store.

Diagon Alley concept design courtesy of InPark Magazine

Image source: InPark Magazine

The expansion is one of the visitor experiences we’re looking forward to most in the year ahead, and we’re delighted to be offering our readers a closer look. Universal recently released more detailed information about the Diagon Alley project, including some concept art. In June, park guests will be able to jump aboard the iconic Hogwart’s Express train from King’s Cross Station at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and make their way to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. It’s the world’s first multi-park themed experience. Universal is capitalizing on this, and a park-to-park ticket is required for access to both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Studios parks.

Gringott's concept art courtesy of InPark Magazine

Image source: InPark Magazine

The new themed area will feature attractions, shops, and restaurants that fans of the books will recognize.  Guests can take a thrilling ride through the Gringott’s bank vault where they will meet up with roving goblins and experience a close encounter with a fire-breathing dragon. Visitors can also participate in the wand selection process at Ollivander’s, play some practical jokes on their loved ones at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and find the perfect authentic wizard costume for any occasion at Madam Malkin’s Robes.

Diagon Alley concept design from InPark Magazine

Image source: InPark Magazine

Those interested in the darker side of J.K. Rowling’s popular books can choose to take a trip through Knockturn Alley. The iconic Borgin and Burkes will be open for business and a lesson in dark magic. After exploring what the new area has to offer, park guests can stop for a bite to eat at the renowned Leaky Cauldron restaurant. The level of attention to detail and exceptional theming is consistent with everything that fans love about the existing Hogsmeade section of the parks.

Concept art for Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment courtesy of InPark Magazine

Image source: InPark Magazine

From a business perspective, the new Diagon Alley expansion is an excellent decision for Universal. It taps into two potential revenue streams: The first is increasing attendance revenues to both parks by requiring guests to purchase park-to-park tickets before hopping aboard the Hogsmeade Express; Second, there will also be several opportunities to shop for souvenirs and merchandise. If you’ve ever read the Harry Potter series, you probably recall that Diagon Alley is the wizarding world’s most popular shopping destination. A significant amount of square footage will be focused on duplicating that experience for park visitors with retail shops and themed dining experiences featured in the books and films. The combination of artful theming and retail planning promises to turn Diagon Alley into both a fan favorite and a serious moneymaker for Universal.

It will be interesting to see whether this themed shopping expansion will capture audiences like the original Wizarding World. We suspect it will, because even though the majority of Diagon Alley sounds like a clever retail trap, we’ll be the first to admit that Harry Potter magic goes a long way in any context. We will happily be lulled into buying new merchandise to continue experiencing new incarnations of the Harry Potter universe!

Image source: inparkmagazine.com

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