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Universal Creative talks about Diagon Alley

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Published: December 13, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Universal Creative President Mark Woodbury and Universal Creative's Dale Mason, executive art director for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, talk with Stuart Craig, Production Designer of the Harry Potter film series, about the creation of Universal's version of Diagon Alley, in this video released today by the Universal Orlando Resort:

Woodbury promised additional updates about Diagon Alley in early 2014. If you can't wait, we've got all the details here and here!

Readers' Opinions

From Annette Forrest on December 13, 2013 at 4:07 PM
I think this Harry Potter attraction, and the one at IOA, is one of the greatest things to ever happen to the theme park industry. It really raises the bar.

From what I can see, they are sparing NO EXPENSE with this project. They are not doing anything on the cheap this time. I find that wonderful.

It's going to prevent Disney from being cheap in the future with project or value engineering. Because every new project will have to be as good as Harry Potter. Or else, don't bother.

I think this is fantastic. It means down the road that we'll get even more immersive attractions as people try to one-up Diagon Alley and be even more immersive and impressive.

This is a major WIN all around for every theme park fan. Not only will Disney have to live up to this standard, but Universal itself will have to upgrade the rest of its parks to match the Harry Potter level. That's going to be spectacular.

From N B on December 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM
I completely agree Annette. From the looks of it, HP London / Hogsmeade will be nothing short of the most spectacular theme park project of all time. I would love to see Disney put the same effort onto their upcoming Star Wars and Avatar lands. Orlando will be the most immersive theme park destination in the world.

Disney has done so much since the Magic Kingdom arrived in 1971 and Universal took a single, not so exciting park and transformed it into a fully realized one stop destination resort.

When you look at Hogsmeade, it is pretty remarkable what they did, but they had to squeeze it into an existing area. London on the other hand, has a huge fa├žade, just to hide everything behind it, plus all these new alleyways and shops with the marquee ride visible from the entrance. There is only one way in and one way out, where Hogsmeade is a walkthrough area.

I hope the Disney execs take notice and crack open the checkbooks in the coming years.

From David L. on December 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM
While I'm really looking forward to this new land, Universal spent 5 minutes showing me clips from the films and confirming that the Leaky Caldron will be in the land. I was really looking forward to more...
From Gabriel Schroll on December 14, 2013 at 5:52 PM
I couldn't agree more with the first two comments. I don't care that it's Universal who is raising the bar, as long as someone is raising the bar. And to do it in this sort of spectacular fashion is a theme park lover's dream come true! What Universal did with Hogsmeade proved that if you take the time, put in the effort, employ the right creative minds, and really put your money where your mouth is, an extraordinary project can be created. I tend to think Hogsmeade was dipping their big toe into the water, so to speak. If it worked out, they'd have the confidence to go full-steam ahead with London. And it worked out better than anyone could hope.

So Disney, it's your turn. You have an incredible franchise in Star Wars with so much history and lore that can be turned into something Universal only wishes they had. Hollywood Studios is in desperate need of an overhaul, and this, more than any other time, would be when those deep pockets and very talented and experienced Imagineers need to knock one out of the park.

Finally, regarding the video itself, I was pretty impressed with how excited Mark Woodbury seemed to be. There was something just a bit odd about him, but I felt his enthusiasm was genuine. And having people who care in positions to make a difference is what makes a good park great, and a great park better.

From O T on December 14, 2013 at 1:05 AM
I hope you are right Annette, but didn't Disney build the Jack Sparrow experience at the Disney Studios after HP phase 1?
It also amazing how much Universal can do with so little money. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was somewhere between 80 and 90 million dollar. I hope Disney can get their development costs down so they can develop more quality rides for less money.
In the end we all win but for now I have no reason to visit Disney and so many reasons to visit Universal. I will go next autumn and from my last visit 2 years ago until then I will have many new and fun experiences I just have to see. To be honest, if they only had opened despicable me I would have been their, love those movies. But Transformers, refurbed Spiderman, Simpsons expansion, a refurbed monster show, Harry Potter diagon ally and 8 new shops and restaurants at Citywalk are a nice plus.
I also planed a trip to Gatorland and the Orlando Eye and my theme park needs are fulfilled.
From 108.13.149.27 on December 14, 2013 at 9:59 AM
Thanks for posting this. I cannot wait for next summer. It's great to see that the creative forces behind this seem as excited about the project as myself.

I'm not a Harry Potter fan, but something about riding the Hogsmeade Express from London really resonates with me. The rumors I've heard about the attraction sound great and I think it will be an amazing to get off the train and feel like you have actually arrived in Hogsmeade.

I think the hardest part will be deciding where to start next year. Start with the section I already know and travel on the train to the new, or vice versa?

From 174.117.223.146 on December 14, 2013 at 10:34 PM
To the person above: That's a great point!
Narratively, it makes more sense to take the train from London to Hogsmeade. But there would be a greater sense of anticipation if one takes the train from the familiar land to the new one. Hmmmm, this is going to be hard to decide. Lol! I am truly more excited about this expansion than ANY theme park attraction or land in a long long time.
From 161.113.14.4 on December 16, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Whilst the HP themeing is very very good and without doubt I agree with the comments above it raises the bar, however I do feel that the actual HP ride is rather incoherent and just an overload on the senses and left me feeling the ride was actually quite forgetable. I hope more thought goes into the new attraction. I am not a HP fan nor seen the movies so as a critic i'm looking for something to blow me away rather then just a ride that reminds me of a movie. Im hoping for an experience. The only ride in florida that left me feeling like I had really experienced something new and exciting was Toy Story Mania. Im looking for that sort of buzz coming off a ride and thing wow that was awesome.
From N B on December 16, 2013 at 7:45 PM
FJ does seem a little disjointed at first. Basically, you are at Hogwarts when all heck breaks loose. They have to squeeze so much into a short ride. I was a bit confused when I first rode it now I just enjoy the queue and all the ride scenery.

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