Told ya so! Universal Orlando confirms Harry Potter - Diagon Alley for 2014
Universal Orlando this morning confirmed the news we've been telling you for months: That it is building a new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, themed to Diagon Alley, in Universal Studios Florida. And that it will open in 2014.
Concept art from Universal
From Universal Orlando's press release:
Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project. The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.
Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.
And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between ‘London’ and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Work on the new area is already underway. When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.
More details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be released over time.
We first reported the plans for the new land in December 2011, revealing the Gringotts coaster and basic layout of the Diagon Alley. And we first reported in March this year that Universal was aiming for opening Diagon Alley in July 2014.
You can read our complete coverage of Universal's Harry Potter attractions on our Wizarding World of Harry Potter page.
Update: Just confirmed from an inside source: The dragon atop Gringotts in the Harry Potter concept art is not an artist's embellishment. It will be real (i.e. a physical prop and not a projection). And the dragon will breathe fire.
As Dewayne Bevil from the Sentinel said to me earlier, when we were looking at the concept art, "It looks like Disney's dragon from New Fantasyland flew over to Gringotts."
Yeah, and it's going to be living there now.
Took them long enough
I'm curious concerning the timing of the announcement. Any ideas?
Looks awful from the concept art. Are we supposed to believe the dragon will breath real-life fire down the tower?
I'm wondering who is responsible for this announcement. This project is the most amazing thing that is going on in theme park world and all we get is an announcement on facebook and 1 concept art. This should have been a huge media event!
These Pictures look great...
and so now you must purchase tickets to BOTH parks to see it all
I do wish it was opening earlier, because we are looking to go to Orlando in late July of 2014 and it would be nice if the initial rush was over.
Wow.... 2014, very close to the same time as the finish of Fantasyland. Universal is quick. I wish Disney was able to pull off a project this fast.... it does seem like it has taken them a LONG time to do this family coaster..... but that being said, I still am most looking forward to Fantasyland being finished that year.
Talk about coming out of nowhere. I'm fairly certain I speak for many members when I say we were all expecting this to be announced around HHN.
Any idea when in 2014? Looking at planning a spring break trip there in April...
I don't get why people think Universal is building this stuff "so fast." I mean the Theme Park Insider news story showed up at the end of December 2011. If you read the article the writer says he saw blueprints for the ride. Now it must have taken something like six months to compile all of these detailed blueprints. That would mean that the work would have started in the middle of summer 2011. So if the Potter thing is going to open in the summer of 2014, that would mean it took three years to create the attraction.
188.8.131.52.... your math is off.
I can't help but wonder, how much will the 2014 "Annual Ticket Price Hike" be now?
So... who's mine cart ride with dwarfs will be better? :P
From blue sky to grand opening a gate crasher takes 2-1/2 to 3 years -- give or take a few months. Unless its a flat out clone like 'Transformers' seems to be.
Am I the only one that thinks this is a terrible idea. WWHP is great as it is but now that the series of movies is over. Harry Potter will not be nearly as popular as it was and an expansion is definitely not necessary. Universals big mistake is that they think the Harry Potter series will become classic like Jaws or Jurassic Park. Harry Potter will not be that popular as we drift away from the years of the films releases. Yes this new area will be initially successful and make a lot of money, but I think universal is looking at a long term disaster. Harry Potter should just stay in IOA. I think Universal is making a huge mistake.
Sometimes being a Theme Park Insider does have its downside... this announcement just feels like tired, old news. Robert, you are a spoiler! =)
I am curious about one thing...Can you only access the next HP section by taking the train to USF or can you access it both ways? I would think it would be neater and smarter to only be able to access both from inside IOA, keeps with the magic more.
gringotts is run by goblins, not dwarfs.
A fire breathing dragon atop Gringotts will be soooo cool.
Nice timing for the opening on July 2014. I will go in May 2014. I will miss the opening of Diagon Alley, but I think attendance at IOA will be lower due to people holding back.
Ahhh no!! I don't want the dragon! Yeah I'm sure it will be a great animatronic, but I want to admire the architecture of Gringotts without a dragon! Oh well... I'm still excited though!
While the Universal announcement is VERY exciting, it's also an affirmation about TPI ... Robert Niles broke this story almost a year and a half ago ... make no mistake, TPI is FLAT OUT the BEST theme park spot on the worldwide web.
"Am I the only one that thinks this is a terrible idea"
"Looks awful from the concept art. Are we supposed to believe the dragon will breath real-life fire down the tower?"
Smells like a fake story to me...can't wait for the real announcement to find out what the real expansion will really, for real be.
"I would think it would be neater and smarter to only be able to access both from inside IOA, keeps with the magic more"
The dragon on top of Gringotts will be a real thing...?
We have APs for WDW and Universal. While the Universal APs have gone up, it hasn't come close to the price increases at WDW. Further, Universal is actually nice to the APs - lots more than Disney.
Super pumped for this news. I'll be booking a trip to Orlando in late 2014 just to see the expansion. I'll happily fork over money if they keep doing projects like this.
I'm wondering why the nay sayers come out of the wood work when this non issue has been discussed for 2 years on here. Of course they are annoynomous, you know you could use a fake name geniuses! Like TH said its best for everybody in Orlando where I'm planning a trip in the fall of 2014, my family is spending most of the time at Universal but spending a day at Seaworld and a day or two at Walt. It's a win win and if You don't like it don't go to it, you have plenty of things to do in Orlando. For the rest of us, 98% of the population, will enjoy seeing what the theme parks have new that's coming out.
To the people that complain saying you have to buy tickets to both parks now... Who goes to Universal and only visits one of the parks anyway?
Well it's finally official! I am also a little surprised by the timing of the announcement, but it was going to be pretty evident soon as the facades started going up. So I guess it was going to happen soon enough. I think they will hold of on big details until after Transformers opens up and the summer whines down. I really missed Jaws the last time I was there, but I think I will get over it! I will be planning a trip most likely in September this year to ride Transformers and Despicable Me (it opened a month or so after I visited last) and then will have to plan a trip for fall 2014 for this new expansion! Maybe I should just send my fall paychecks direct deposit to Universal the next couple of years to make it easier! LOL CAN'T WAIT!!!
For those of you wondering if a park-to-park ticket is required to experience the Hogwarts Express, I just checked Orlando Informer and they posted an email from Universal that states:
I understand the train will be a ride in itself. In place of windows there will be video screens to give you the feel of traveling through the countryside instead of a back lot. And yes the train will go both ways, you will need park to park tickets and it will be a GREAT sore foot saver for those of us whom like to go to both parks in a day!
Universal continues to raise the bar on theme parks. This is a 750 million dollar expansion that is unprecedented. You will need 2-park passes, the train will go both ways and will be a ride itself. I understand the windows will be video screens so they will be able to change your ride experience and not just look out on the back parking lots. it will be a welcome addition for those of us with tired feet whom like to go park to park occasionally.
Anon said: bad idea, Potter will fade (summarized)
We went to Florida in 2011 (WDW and UOR) for the sole purpose of visiting THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HP! LOVED IT! We have totally been following ALL of the rumors...and became extremely excited with the official announcement. So now...planning to go back JUST to UOR in 2015. (Disney's slow pace of adding new E ticket attractions is a whole other story) BUT...my point...if there are A LOT more people like OUR family; who have been to "HP" and are now planning a return trip to see the expansion, I think universal will be just fine. And I have NO doubt the expansion will be fun, creative, and most importantly, fulfill the expectations we all have...just as "the original" did.
Doug Jenkins writes: "Universal continues to raise the bar on theme parks. This is a 750 million dollar expansion that is unprecedented."
TH, I'm not sure about that figure either, but it is plausible. The first HP land was somewhere in the 250 million range if I remember correctly.
It would be nice if the Hogwarts Express went from Diagon Alley to MK's New Fantasyland.
Ain't no way this project costs much more than $300 million.
TH, I read an article (not a post) on Micechat that puts the tally for all of the expansion at 1 billion. That includes all of Potter 2.0, Transformers, the Cabana Bay, Springfield and the fact they are repainting just about everything.
NB, would love to see the link to that article.
I don't mind if you say "I told you so". Very happy to see this confirmed, since we are likely to visit Orlando next fall. We'll be very excited to visit the completed New Fantasyland as well as the Harry Potter expansion.
No offense 184.108.40.206, but Harry Potter is one of the world's biggest franchises and has been waayy before the movies ever came out - millions of people around the world continue to love and buy the books and will want to relive the world for a long time - I would say it's a much longer lasting franchise than Jaws or Jurassic Park in the long run and Universal are smart to capitalize on that - remember that the first Harry Potter book come out in 1997 and 15 years on there is as much interest in the franchise as there was then!
Also this is the most exciting news i've had all week - we are planning a trip in November 2013 but will now be going back in November 2014 as well, provided Harry is open by then! I can not wait - although i'm not really surprised...they probably announced because of all the speculation regarding the construction going on which was so obviously Harry Potter related :)
Maybe Anonymous above is a shill for Disney...how else could he seriously believe that this is a terrible idea?
I've been a die hard Disney fan for years. But even the most die-hard Disney fans like me have to admit that Universal knocked it out of the park with Potter. My family will go to Orlando next summer because of this. We are so impressed with how committed Universal has been to adding new rides and impressive experiences to their parks that this time we will be staying at the Universal resort. First time ever for this Disney family.
Not sure how being a social media/marketing person makes Eric Davis an expert in commercial construction estimating and/or project management.
TH, no one but you is doubting the construction budget estimates. You also had a problem with theme park attendance numbers a while back, and they were official.
NB writes: "TH, no one but you is doubting the construction budget estimates."
How did Disney manage to spend a billion at DCA? USF is putting in a new land, a new resort, three new E ticket rides etc....
I have no experience working on construction teams managing projects in the state of California. Nor am I aware of a credible source that might verify the budgets associated with any California projects. So I wouldn't be able to comment on the accuracy of costs or schedules related to DCA's expansion.
Just an FYI to the ones who said with the Harry Potter movies done, they wouldn't last and Jaws and Jurasic Park were "classics"....Jaws (first movie) came out in 1975 and JP(first movie) in 1993. They seem to have lasted, why won't Harry Potter? Harry Potter IS the new classic!
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