Cast members of the blockbuster “Harry Potter” movie franchise attended a preview Wednesday of the much-awaited Diagon Alley, an extension of Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park based on J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series.
The new theme park, which is scheduled to open July 8, is expected to help enhance Universal's earnings from its theme parks as well as increase tourism to central Florida where the parks are based. Diagon Alley, located within Universal Orlando’s second theme park, takes its name from a fictional shopping and business district in London mentioned in the British author’s popular fantasy series.
"It's far more immersive. There's no scaffolding, no green screen, no electricians standing around," actor Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy told Reuters, comparing the Diagon Alley theme park to the film set where he put in a decade's work for the eight movies in the franchise.
The new park is reportedly twice the size of the original, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which was inaugurated in 2010 and is modeled after the fictional Hogsmeade Village, located near the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school of magic where the series' leading character Harry Potter, and his friends, begin their magical journey.
While Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the role of Bellatrix Lestrange in the series, was present at the red carpet, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), were absent from the event. Other stars who attended the red carpet event included, Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley).
Diagon Alley will feature "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts," a signature ride based on the Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Other major attractions will include eateries such as the Leaky Cauldron pub and Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, “the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley,” and “the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders.”
Davis, who plays part-goblin part-wizard Professor Flitwick in the movies, reportedly said about the new ride that it "surpassed anything I've ever seen before."