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New Harry Potter attraction will have Hogwarts Express, dark ride, 8 shops, restaurants

 

mlambert@miamiherald.com

Universal Studios’ new Harry Potter attraction — Diagon Alley — will have at least eight new shops, an ice cream parlor and Leaky Cauldron restaurant when it opens this summer, the resort revealed on Thursday, but it did not give an opening date.

Shops will include a larger Ollivander’s wand shop, a Quidditch equipment and apparel store, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and Borgin and Burkes, which specializes in gear for the Dark Arts.

Thursday’s webcast unveiled the most information yet about the second Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, but offered scant detail about the Hogwarts Express ride, which will connect the two parks, or the centerpiece ride, which Universal had previously said will be set in Gringotts, the goblin-run bank where wizards keep their money.

Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, standing in a vault in the basement of Gringotts for the webcast, said the name of the ride will be Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

A fire-breathing dragon that guards the bank will sit atop the white marble building, Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal’s Creative Studio, said in an interview. Guests will enter the bank lobby and go through a queue as long and detailed as the celebrated queue at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which opened in 2010, he said.

The only description of the ride itself: “Riders will navigate their way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults.”

The two Harry Potter attractions — Diagon Alley (a secret wizard neighborhood in London) at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade (the village in Scotland where the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is set) at Islands of Adventure — will be connected by the Hogwarts Express.

The ride from London to Hogwarts will be an adventure in itself, but no details have been revealed. The train will appear exactly as the train in the movies, Woodbury said, and “there will be a few surprises.”

In addition to the King’s Cross Station at Diagon Alley, Universal is building a new station just outside the current boundaries of Hogsmeade, Coup said.

Guests will have to buy a two-park pass to ride the train or visit both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Diagon Alley at Universal will include these shops, drawn from the Harry Potter books and movies:

•  Ollivanders wand shop. In the books, Ollivanders is only in Diagon Alley, but when Universal created the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, it created a branch of Ollivanders for Hogsmeade. Coup said the new Ollivanders will be larger, but it has not been decided whether it will have multiple rooms for simultaneous ceremonies, where the wand chooses the wizard.

•  Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, with novelty items, magical jokes, and toys. This shop was the most challenging to design, Coup said. Three stories tall and very old, the store has tilted floors and curves where there should be straight lines, and is “packed to the rafters” with the Weasley twins’ magical toys and tricks.

•  Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, with wizards’ robes, item of the Hogwarts uniforms and character costumes

•  Magical Menagerie, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls, Hippogriffs, snakes and toads. The Magical Menagerie is where Harry Potter buys Hedwig, his owl, when he first learns he is a wizard. And it is Coup’s favorite shop. “It’s a small shop, but it’s going to be filled with incredible animals. It’s going to be a big surprise for our guests,” he said.

•  Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, offering compasses, hourglasses and other wizard gear.

•  Quality Quidditch Supplies, with Quidditch brooms, Golden Snitches, and athletic apparel.

•  Scribbulus, a stationery store with feather quills, inkwells, parchment and journals.

•  Borgin and Burkes: In Knockturn Alley, home to the “dark side of wizarding,” Borgin and Burkes will specialize in gear for the Dark Arts such as Death Eater masks and skulls.

•  The Leaky Cauldron will offer traditional British fare, such as fish and chips and bangers and mash.

•  Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour will have a variety of frozen treats.

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