Was Universal's Potter Blitz Premature?

June 24, 2014, 3:55 PM

Jimmy Fallon is back in New York. The Bloggers and network cameras have returned home and now (as of this writing) there are a full two weeks before the attraction's grand opening. While there is little doubt that those of us within the theme park fanatic community regard the new attractions as a gold standard, was it wise to hyper-promote the attraction so many weeks before the greater public will actually have a chance to experience Diagon Alley?

Replies (46)

June 24, 2014, 4:24 PM

Whip them into a frenzy I guess!

June 24, 2014, 7:02 PM

Whip them into a frenzy ... And then wait more than two weeks before the general public can enjoy the experience?

June 24, 2014, 7:28 PM

if anything it was not early enough for the casual fan to make arrangements to get there. While bloggers and theme park website regulars make a lot of noise. If a theme park relied on us for revenue they would be broke very quickly.

June 24, 2014, 7:47 PM

Wasn't the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train involved in a media event a whole month before opening? In any event, two weeks seems like enough time for the public to get hungry enough for more and solidify any vacation itineraries.

June 24, 2014, 9:15 PM

There have been a rash of "we planned the media event, but the ride's not ready" moments over the past year, from the Log Ride at Knotts, to Seven Dwarfs, and now to Diagon Alley. I attribute this to a desire by media relations departments to minimize long soft-open periods where people post all the details of a new attraction to social media, etc. But those planned soft opens give parks a large margin for error if a ride's not ready. Cut it closer, and you might have an event when your star's not ready to go.

We were among the lucky few outlets that actually got to experience a full, uninterrupted, no-glitch ride on Gringotts, which didn't run at all on the actual media preview day. (We rode the night before, during the celebrity party.) Yeah, Universal would have preferred to have all the reporters ride, and all their pub lead up to the official opening, but that's the price to be paid for trying to move up the event to June to cut short the soft open time.

Remember, when we first reported the expected opening date for Diagon Alley, it was to be in July. Then construction went swiftly, people got optimistic, and we heard rumblings from Universal about June, and maybe even a soft in May. But fate had other ideas, and when Diagon Alley finally does open, it will be in... July.

Edited: June 25, 2014, 6:52 AM

You might be thinking like a local in this situation, THC. The average family traveling to Orlando to visit the theme parks usually books 1-2 months out if not earlier, so the media blitz was appropriately timed to get their interest up for this summer. Plus whether it was by design or purely coincidental, all of the Harry Potter news pretty much overshadowed the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster. (Of course we all know that Universal would NEVER take advantage of an opportunity to poke Disney in the eye.) ;^)

Edited: June 25, 2014, 12:35 PM

Didn't Disney do the same with the 7 Dwarfs coaster. Media 2 weeks before official public opening. I don't think it matters much in the long run. Universal & Disney both got the word out to tourists, which is the probably what they aimed for.

June 25, 2014, 3:03 PM

The reason I offered the post is because Mr. Niles had noted how the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at IOA opened to the public the day after the press events. This time there was a notable gap between the semi-star studded event (note the big three [Radcliffe, Grint and Watson] were missing this time). I have no doubt the attraction will be a great success and Diagon Alley looks amazing. But I am wondering if the press event's impact might have been greater had the attraction opened immediately after.

Regarding the Dwarf Mine Train, I'm not sure it is a favorable comparison -- as it is an addition to an existing themed area. Potter USF is an entire, new themed area. I was amused at how quickly posters tried to shift the focus of the thread into another U. v. D. discussion.

June 25, 2014, 4:28 PM

I don't think anyone here was aiming for another debate. Speaking for myself, I was only trying to point out that since it worked out fine for Disney with a longer time span, I'm sure it'll work for Universal fine too.

Edited: June 25, 2014, 7:36 PM

"Potter USF is an entire, new themed area."

Well, YEAH!!!

Universal is taking two weeks and that is bad, while Disney took an extra 1.5+ years to finish The New Fantasyland upon its debut in late 2012 with a vague Spring completion date of the new Dwarfs mine coaster in 2014. How many press events did Disney milk?

Yes, this is a U vs D debate. Sorry, but THC stepped in it with full knowledge.

June 25, 2014, 8:56 PM

Well, Goliath could have spent an extra week in testing at Great America. It keeps breaking down!

June 26, 2014, 6:51 AM

Universal may have been trying to avoid the huge crowd that descended on the resort after the HP1 media event. That must have been an operations nightmare.

June 26, 2014, 3:21 PM

What TH asked seemed OK but is really a misdirection. The real question should be about how did NBCUniversal pull off such a mind-blowing multi-media week of cross-promotion only 2 weeks before the official opening?

Just think...NBC-TV network sent The Today Show AND The Tonight Shows down the same week as Universal Orlando Resort presented a multi-day media extravaganza for Diagon Alley as well as opening the second half of Cabana Bay Resort Hotel with the Beach Boys giving an opening night concert. Even The Golf Channel (an NBC company) is sponsoring vacation giveaways to UOR and Diagon Alley.


June 26, 2014, 7:24 PM

And now they're doing a prime time NBC News special on June 30th about the building of Diagon Alley. What a great blitz.

June 27, 2014, 1:53 PM

In response to Anon, I'll reference a quote from Mr. Hillman back in October of 2013: "I like the analogy about "wrestling a pig." That's a keeper for future use."


Edited: June 27, 2014, 7:07 PM

@THC: You're the pig, I'm sure. Never heard the analogy, and have absolutely no intention of digging it out from whatever post or thread it was inserted.

Have a nice day.

Nobody agrees with THC here. Amazing isn't it.

Edited: June 27, 2014, 7:13 PM

Anon: "You're the pig, I'm sure."

I Respond (repeating): Oink.

Anon: "Nobody agrees with THC here ..."

I Respond: Well, I can only speak for myself ... As opposed to others who are empowered to speak for everyone else."


June 27, 2014, 7:19 PM

I read the Oink the first time, and again for the second time.

I also read everyone else's post and they don't agree with you about this thread.


I always have ask, who is this THC expert on theme parks?

Edited: June 27, 2014, 8:08 PM

Anon: "I also read everyone else's post ..."

I Respond: Well done!

Anon: "I always have (sic) ask, who is this THC expert on theme parks?"

I Respond: "Always have" to? Well, I guess some folks have trouble with self-control.


June 28, 2014, 8:54 AM

Um, Anon, you're an old-timer around here. How did you let yourself fall into one of THC's traps? He's loving this.

And by the way, the quote of mine that THC was referring to was actually an expression of admiration for an analogy that he used. Here is THC's original quote:

"Sometimes debating on these threads is like wrestling with a pig: An hour into it you're both dirty and you suddenly realize the pig is enjoying it."

So in essence, THC used my words in an debate with you to pat himself on the back. Amazing.

You gotta watch out for those oinks!

June 28, 2014, 10:20 AM

No ... not patting myself on the back. The reason I pulled your quote is because you made note that the metaphor (not mine, by the way) which I thought describes these these thread debates is worthy for re-use.

I wanted to qualify why I was repeating myself.

And (again) ... um ... Oink!

June 28, 2014, 10:48 AM

"Was Universal's Potter Blitz Premature?"


June 28, 2014, 3:19 PM

@Tim: What trap? There was no trap.

Whatever THC is doing, he is laughing at himself thinking he is so clever. Its his inside joke. I don't care.

And no one agrees with his thread.

June 28, 2014, 3:42 PM

The thread began with a question based upon the differences between the Potter 1 blitz and the Potter 2 blitz. I just posed a question ... Not sure how posters might "agree" with me.

June 28, 2014, 4:01 PM

By the way, posting this on my fancy new phone from Bongos at DTD

June 29, 2014, 9:17 PM


June 30, 2014, 3:30 AM

OK, so this has gone a little off track.
THC, I think I might be the president of your fan club. You make me smile. Content aside, the world needs both people like you and Anon and people like me, sycophnatic (sp?) hangers on.

July 1, 2014, 11:23 AM

I think the problems with Gringotts definitely screwed up the timing on all of this. I am not even sure that ride will be working perfectly by the grand opening on July 8th.

July 1, 2014, 4:32 PM

I also think the gap demonstrates the difference between planning a television production (Fallon) to accommodate the opening of a theme park attraction. The Fallon show must have had to pick a date months ago -- with no guarantee the attraction would be up and running.

July 1, 2014, 8:24 PM

"I think the problems with Gringotts definitely screwed up the timing on all of this. I am not even sure that ride will be working perfectly by the grand opening on July 8th"

Timing won't much matter. Getting the ride to work well cannot happen without real world conditions. Regardless of July 8, it can be August 8 and they will have the same issues.

The grand opening is as arbitrary as any other date. They are ready to open. The ride is the last link. If you don't want to be disappointed, best to go a few months later. I recalled Radiator Springs Racers of Carsland constantly broke down in the first year and even in the second year. It seems to run fine now.

July 2, 2014, 1:14 PM

I guess what I am saying is opening a new land with one of the star attractions not working and the other requiring a park to park ticket may not go so well....

July 2, 2014, 1:49 PM

It didn't seem to bother the original opening of WWoHP in IOA. Forbidden Journey went through months of inconsistent operation, while two of the other major attractions were just re-branding of existing rides (Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge). The other major attraction, Olivander's, had popularity so underestimated that the line for the 20-30 person per cycle capacity led to 3+ hour lines.

In my opinion, they could have a complete breakdown of both the Hogwart's Express (granted if that didn't work, people buying 2-park tickets onsite would be pretty upset) and Gringott's, and people would still ooh and aah at the new land. After all, that's what most people spent most of their time doing at the original WWoHP, well that and buying wands and Butterbeer of course.

July 2, 2014, 3:09 PM

Guys, reality is on its way. Everyone needs to give a huge thanks and give due credit to the Universal Orlando team for such an outstanding job at bringing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter : Diagon Alley. They have worked tirelessly to bring such a huge addition in such a short amount of time. I know as everyone stands and anxiously awaits the time when the iron gates will open and allow the general public entrance into the enchating land of Diagon Alley, I challenge each of you to remember back just the short time ago when this was just JAWs and vacant land now in just a little more than a year you have before you another amazing journey into Harry's Wizarding World. This great addition will surely be no disappointment.

The Universal Orlando team is one of the most creative and dynamic teams in the history of the Theme Park business. The devotion of each of the team members that have put in long hours, sweat and headaches to achieve is unaprallel to any other studio or park. All teams: Creative, Design, Communications, Training, Management, and Operations have done a fantastic job.

With all of the recent additions to Universal Orlando and with many more to come in the near future, Universal Orlando is taking its place at the top of the list a MUST SEE ATTRACTIONS destination, rightfully and deservably so.

Kudos Universal Orlando Team!!!


July 3, 2014, 5:26 AM

Universal Orlando has gained its rightful place under the sunny skies of Orlando, Florida as one of the Top Attractions in one of the World’s most premier travel destinations. When Universal Orlando opened in 1990, I doubt the original team could ever have imagined what has become Universal Resort Orlando.

When Universal Orlando opened in 1990, it was living in the shadow of Disney. In 1999, when Universal Islands of Adventure opened, Universal Orlando proclaimed that dreams didn’t only exist within the Walt Disney World Resort, but they existed everywhere and they began to dream on their own. Universal dared to venture out into the sunlight on its own.

In 2010, with the introduction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando raised the bar above and far higher than it had before. Since its 2010 expansion, Universal’s very talented team has brought more thrill and excitement for all ages to Orlando than it has seen since the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Universal Orlando has not only stepped up to the plate, but have began playing in a different ballpark. Instead of following in the shadows, they have begun to set the standard. By listening to its guests, devising an amazing creative team, and developing a passion for their resort that is innovative and exciting, Universal Orlando has ascended to a level of superiority worthy of being top billed as Orlando’s Top Tourist Attraction.

In four short years, Universal Orlando Resort has brought to you the following:

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter : Hogsmeade

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey


Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter : Diagon Alley

Hogwarts Express

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

As well as these:




HotDog Hall of Fame

Cowfish (opening soon)

And they continue to bring to you larger than life Halloween Horror Nights and Mardi Gras celebrations each year.

The dreams continue and plans to expand the park even further continue………


July 3, 2014, 7:17 AM

Since the last two posts have effectively killed this thread, I feel no shame in asking the following question:

Is the future bleak for Diagon Alley since it is starting its run by "jumping the shark"?

July 3, 2014, 8:31 AM

Brandon: Add ons to your list of last 4 years. Despicable Me, Spiderman HD upgrade, Springfield, Kang & Kodas, USF new parade, USF new nightime lagoon show.

July 3, 2014, 9:55 AM

Rob.... thanks for your addition. I was primarily mentioning new additions, but yes, these should not go unnoticed or unmentioned.


July 3, 2014, 11:09 AM

Brandon; You are very welcome.

Edited: July 3, 2014, 3:24 PM

Thank you Brandon and Rob ...

Edited: July 3, 2014, 9:19 PM

Over the past 3 days, I have been to UOR each day. I rode Hogwarts Express 4 round trips, there were always people riding it, the lines had between 200 and 2000 people each time I rode it. I don't see having to have a park-to-park ticket as much of a problem as some would think.

Today, I went into Diagon Alley when it was opened for regular park guests. Truly amazing detail, unlike anything I ever saw outside of WWoHP Hogsmeade. DA was crowded, people drinking real beer and Butterbeer, long lines at Leaky Cauldren to eat (I had a Wizard's Brew and Toad in the Hole). Very fast and efficient. The shops selling everything WWoHP were busy and selling a lot of stuff.

Gringott's ride was not open yet and no one really cared since everything was so great. People were wishing it was operating but all understood that it was technically advanced and it takes time to get it right. Also, there is a fire-breathing dragon on Gringott's Bank that was working and thrilling everyone. I saw the 3 Brothers play twice and it was a fun time.

Outside in London, the Knight Bus show with the shrunken head and conductor was a funny meet & greet.

In all, what a masterful creation.

July 4, 2014, 7:17 AM

Great to see you enjoying the expansion so much. It seems every site I've visited has glowing reports from people saying Diagon has the most immersion of any theme park land they ever visited. Looks like a grand slam home run for Universal when customers are loving the area , and the future attraction isn't even open yet.

July 4, 2014, 11:12 AM

Diagon Alley has a few details not widely talked about.

There is a very noticeable slope upward from the entrance to Gringott's Bank. The ground surface slopes slightly in all places and Knockturn Alley does go down slope a bit.

Most of the area is under a roof. The main path up to Gringott's Bank has open sky but a "train" overpass is wide and works as a roof. The market area is all covered, as is Knockturn Alley and, of course, all shops & restaurants are inside. There can be a downpour and enough areas are covered that everyone can escape the rain without leaving DA.

July 4, 2014, 9:35 PM

That rain covering actually greatly interests me!

July 7, 2014, 3:37 PM

"Brandon: Add ons to your list of last 4 years. Despicable Me, Spiderman HD upgrade, Springfield, Kang & Kodas, USF new parade, USF new nightime lagoon show."

I was just about to add that when I scrolled down and saw someone else already did... I am fairly sure the Mummy also got some projector upgrades, but it is hard to find any info. I'll know as soon as I see it...

July 11, 2014, 7:13 AM

I only pop out for a year and when I come back people are still bickering. I love it.
Oh and TH is right. This thing was hyped far too soon and the delay in opening was unnecessary. It already had a huge ready made audience chomping at the bit to see it so it wasn't going to add value by making them wait. They just jumped the gun and they were wrong.

July 11, 2014, 12:47 PM

Not sure what I am "right" about?

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