The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando will expand into London next year, the theme park announced Wednesday. The new area, which has been under construction for months, will be built along Diagon Alley, and the centerpiece will be a ride based on Gringotts Bank. It is to be completed in 2014.
Diagon Alley will be located not in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, with Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and two other rides, but in the adjacent park, Universal Studios. Visitors can travel between Hogsmeade and London aboard the Hogwarts Express, but will have to buy a two-park pass in order to experience all the Harry Potter attractions.
Universal announced in late 2011 that it would expand the hugely popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but until Wednesday had not released any further information. However, several fan websites, at least one of which claimed to have seen the plans, had posted details that Universal’s announcement generally confirmed.
Diagon Alley will be much like Hogsmeade in the original Wizarding World, a neighborhood built around a signature ride, accompanied by shops and a restaurant inspired by the Harry Potter books and approved by author J.K. Rowling.
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“Our vision is to create two amazing theme park experiences that combine into one, complete, magical journey,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president, marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resort.
Diagon Alley is a wizards’ shopping area in London, behind the Leaky Cauldron pub, and can’t be seen by Muggles. It’s where Hagrid took Harry Potter, when he first learned he was a wizard, to get money from Gringotts, shop for school supplies to take to Hogwarts, and buy a wand at Ollivanders Wand Shop.
Diagon Alley is being built on the space formerly occupied by the Jaws ride, which closed in January 2012.