Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

In the Harry Potter films, a wizard would access the entrance to Diagon Alley by tapping five bricks in the wall. The wall would then shift and open so that wizards could pass through to this special street containing Gringotts Bank which is run by goblins, an ice-cream parlour, pet shops, book shops, Ollivander’s wand shop, magical clothing shops, broom shops, apothecaries and many others. Access to the street is invisible to Muggles, who have no idea of its existence.

At Universal Orlando, they’ve done an excellent job of obscuring their version of Diagon Alley. We arrived at the park via the Hogwarts Express without a park map. We left the station and walked out into the sunshine. We saw the Knight Bus and 12 Grimmauld Place. Then we noticed something truly odd. A steady stream of people kept walking into this opening in the center of the building facades. I had no idea what was in there, but I figured it was rest rooms. Since it’s always better to go when you see one rather than wait until you need to go and can’t find one, we headed on in. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

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Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more. Wow!  To say that I was surprised was an understatement. (And I never did find that restroom!)

The first thing that happens when you enter is that you hear a rumbling sound (the way bricks would sound if they were grinding against each other as they moved to form an opening in the wall). Then you come upon this gloriously crowded, busy street lined with shops and eateries. The Leaky Cauldron is to your left as you enter, Gringotts is straight ahead and dominating the scene, and you will also see favorites from the books and movies like Flourish & Blotts, Ollivander’s Wand Shop, and Weasley Wizard Wheezes.

There is much to be discovered in this area, and as always I encourage you to look up, around, and down. If you spot an alcove, go in. See where it leads you. That’s how I found Knockturn Alley, which I absolutely loved not just because it was really mysterious and creepy (in a good way), but also because it was dark, cool, and less crowded than the rest of the area. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the visitors to Diagon Alley had completely missed this little side street. Here are some of the photos I took.  First, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes:

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And Flourish & Blotts:

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And the Owl Post:

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(The bird poo running down from each opening is a nice touch, don’t you think?)

Spend some time just watching in Diagon Alley.  You’ll see all manner of interesting things (and some interesting people, too)!

Diagon Alley is located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Orlando, 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819.  Telephone 407-363-8000.

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