Potter fans beware; your favorite witches and wizards were on hand at Universal Studio’s Orlando location to celebrate the opening of the new Diagon Alley. While Harry, Ron and Hermione were not able to attend the launch of the highly anticipated new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, everyone’s favorite love-to-hate characters Draco Malfoy and Ballatrix Lestrange, played by actors Tom Felton and Helena Bonham Carter, were both on hand.
“It’s far more immersive. There’s no scaffolding, no green screen, no electricians standing around,” said Felton about the theme park’s newest attraction, calling it far better than the set on which he spent nearly a decade of his life. It’s no secret that the Potter series is one of the most successful book and movie series in the world, with millions of diehard fans in various ages all over the world.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter debuted in Orlando’s Universal theme park in 2010 by opening up Hogsmeade. Fans can try butterbeer, ride the Hogsmeade express and enjoy time in Hogwarts. Now the franchise has expanded to Universal’s sister park, Islands of Adventure, which requires guests to purchase a two-park pass to enjoy both portions of Harry Potter. The two attractions are connected by, what else, the Hogwarts Express.
The new Diagon Alley is equipped with the Leaky Cauldron as well as the “Escape from Gringotts,” a thrilling adventure ride emulating that of the famous dragon ride taken by Potter and his friends after breaking into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts in an effort to steal Horcruxes placed there for safe keeping by none other than Lord Voldemort himself.
While the film’s biggest stars schedules did not allow them to attend the opening of Diagon Alley, many other Potter stars were in attendance, thrilling fans all over Orlando with their presence, signing autographs and smiling for pictures as they enjoyed their old stomping grounds.
(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)