This morning, Universal Orlando revealed the worst-kept secret in the theme park industry, and finally admitted that an expansion of their uber-popular Harry Potter attraction is being built inside Universal Studios Florida. Massive construction has been going on in full view of guests since shortly after the iconic Jaws ride was shuttered in early 2012, and the distinctive angles of J.K. Rowling's wizardly architecture are clearly evident in the steel structures swiftly rising behind plywood walls.
The new Potter area will be themed to Diagon Alley, and feature a themed restaurant, an Gringotts Bank indoor roller-coaster, and several shops. Another highlight will be a Hogwarts Express tran to shuttle guests to the original Potter attractions in Islands of Adventure.
Some highlights from the press release, which is reprinted in full below:
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES:
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER – DIAGON ALLEY
IS COMING TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
‘London’ and Diagon Alley Will Come to Life at Universal Orlando in 2014
World’s First Centrally Themed, Multi-Park Experience
ORLANDO, Fla. (May 8, 2013) – Building on the global phenomenon that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expansion of historic proportion with the entirely new themed environment,
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project. The new area will bring to life some of the experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films, offering brand-new adventures for fans and theme park guests from around the world.
Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.
And – just like in the books and films – guests will be able to travel between ‘London’ and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Work on the new area is already underway. When complete, it will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank – all directly inspired by the fiction and films.
More details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be released over time.
To bring Diagon Alley and ‘London’ to life, Universal’s creative team is working closely with Warner Bros. and the production design team from the Harry Potter films – just as it did for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.
"I'm so pleased that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has proved so popular to date, and I'm sure that the attention to detail in creating the new Diagon Alley area will make this an even better experience," said J.K. Rowling.
“We are continuing the journey and adding an entirely new level of adventure,” said Tom Williams, Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts. “And we are bringing the same drive, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to this project as we did to the first.”
“We are thrilled to offer the legions of fans the opportunity to embark on this new journey and experience Diagon Alley as it was brought to life in the books and films,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
“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.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in June 2010 as a fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment - bringing to life the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and the blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros. Since that time, it has become a global phenomenon, entertaining millions of people from around the world.
Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are swept into the adventures of Harry Potter. They can tour Hogwarts castle, shop in Hogsmeade and dine at the Three Broomsticks. They can soar above Hogwarts with Harry, be chosen by a wand at Ollivanders, sample Butterbeer and much more.
About the Harry Potter Series
Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon. Each of the seven books by author J.K. Rowling has broken sales records, with the series to date having sold over 450 million copies worldwide and translated into more than 70 languages. The Harry Potter films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $7.7 billion to date worldwide at the box office, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.