We’ve been wanting to go to Diagon Alley, the new addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, for …oh … since it opened in July, actually. But with wedding prep and busy schedules, it just hadn’t happened — until this weekend.
We got to the park early Saturday morning, about 30 minutes before it opened, and we made a beeline for Diagon Alley along with everyone else. We rode the Hogwarts Express train both ways between the two parks (which you need a two-park ticket for, of course — kinda genius of the folks at Universal). I ran through the “wall” at platform nine and three-quarters, and the train ride had all kinds of fun scenes playing in the windows. We kept hoping they would bring around the trolly with the chocolate frogs for sale, but it didn’t happen. :( There were some neat British snacks for purchase at King’s Cross Station though.
Our plan was to ride the new attraction, Escape from Gringott’s, first. The wait was about an hour, but we really enjoyed it. It was pretty similar in style to the Hogsmeade Village attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but the best part was the animatronic goblins in the bank’s entrance. (There are also some in the Gringott’s Money Exchange shop.)
The attention to detail within the park is incredible, and there are little jokes around every corner. We spent quite some time wandering around the quirky shops, and we saw a wand selection demonstration in Olivander’s. They now have special wands for purchase that work with sensors in the park to create “magic.” Basically, you stand at a gold marker and follow the posted motions, and some water falls from an umbrella or a frog in the pet store window comes to life. The kids were having a blast with it, and it was cute to watch.
We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, which is pretty similar to the Three Broomsticks in it’s food selections and atmosphere, but we enjoyed it. Service was fast, even right at noon, and I had the “mini pies” and “chocolate pot” for dessert.
Knockturn Alley, the street famous for dark magic in the Harry Potter series, was hidden away and almost totally dark, even in the middle of the afternoon. It was delightfully creepy, although we didn’t get many pictures because it was so dimly lit.
We came back at night to snap a few final photos and to see the Gringott’s dragon breathe fire again, and it was even cooler — more like I pictured it in the novels. Even though there is only one real “ride”, Diagon Alley is still at must-see, at least once. We enjoyed it, and we’re hoping they’ll add on even more in the future.