Escape from Gringotts

Soon, Harry Potter will cast a spell over its once tame but quaint Universal Studios theme park.  As the Celebration of Harry Potter draws to a close, the PR and hype for the next big thing in Orlando kicks into gear all over the world.
Blogs have simply buzzed with anticipation and for once, we hold our hands in the air and concede that even the hype isn’t going close enough to prepare us all for the excitement (and crowds) that will descend upon Florida this summer.
The Escape from Gringotts ride is now official and you can read all about it in our Universal Studios Diagon Alley rides section!

Universal steal some Disney magic at long last!

Unlike the already popular Hogsmeade area over in the Islands of Adventure, the new Diagon Alley will in fact possess something that has up until now, evaded Universal: that ‘Disney’ magic.
Before you think we’ve gone completely mad, just pause for a moment.  Although the original  Hogsmeade is amazing, and in some respects revolutionised merchandizing and food products within the parks, the beautifully created buildings, didn’t work as a bigger experience.  Despite painstaking effort and meticulous conceptual work, Universal’s first encounter with Harry Potter had something ‘missing’.

If you still howl in protest at this, just stop and think for one minute about Main St. USA over at the Magic Kingdom.  It is devoid of anything substantial whatsoever, but, its ambience creates some of our most powerful lasting memories from our earliest visits to Orlando.
Commonly known as ‘Disney magic’, we take for granted the hard to describe and until now, unique feeling that has long been the bastion of Disney’s Imagineering.

Diehard Disney fans, will be in for a shock this summer as Universal step into the realms of real Imagineering of their own for the very first time at this high level of play.
For those that think Universal is and always has been wonderful, we’d agree, but, not at this level, you’ve got to agree.
On our many adventures in their two Orlando parks, we have never felt the kind of feeling that you get inside many of the Disney parks.  That sense of everything working together, to create something much larger than the component parts.
While Hogsmeade enjoys some of the finest faux architecture we’ve ever seen, even the most persuasive Universal and Potter fans can’t really say that it isn’t much more than a wonderful collections of individual bits and pieces, as wonderful as they are.

 

Diagon Alley, however is another thing altogether.

Taking JAWS away from a rather average and at times desolate theme park will prove to be the theme park industries biggest success story of all time.  We kid you not, Diagon Alley will reap award after award over the coming decade.  Records will tumble and profits will soar.
Orlando businesses already know the power of the Potter Magic as totalorlando will now call it.  Since 2010, Hogsmeade has drawn in fans from around the globe, tempting guests from newer markets such as Brazil and Japan in significant numbers.
The result has been a boom in profits throughout all of Orlando’s theme parks.

With an emphasis on an overall experience, Diagon Alley will immerse guests into the storyline, into actual streets and places from the novels and films.
Knockturn Alley will for example, be an enclosed experience, dimly lit, eery, yet full of intrigue under the darkness of a London sky.
If you have ever been inside Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion, you can imagine a tiny speck of what is in store for the street that will soon be the home of Borgin & Burkes ‘dark arts’ shop.

No matter how cynical you may feel about Potter Magic rivalling Disney Magic, please try and remember this blog post!  We told you this was going to be something way, way bigger than the hype!

Great job Universal, this is a game changer for theme parks all around the world!