New Harry Potter attraction opens at Florida theme park

Tue Jul 8, 2014 3:48pm EDT
 
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - The new Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando opened on Tuesday to crowds of fans eager to be among the first to experience the theme park's Diagon Alley expansion based on J.K. Rowling's books and the popular films about the boy wizard.

Fans began lining up before dawn for the public opening of the "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley" attraction, modeled after the London shopping district for wizards that is featured in Rowling's book series.

The area quickly filled to capacity, leading to staggered admissions into the self-contained attraction.

Universal typically does not release admission figures, but the wait time for the attraction's new signature ride, "Escape from Gringotts," was as long as six hours, according to local media reports.

"If we could give it a standing ovation, we would," Nikida Vaughn of Florida told the Orlando Sentinel after experiencing the interactive roller coaster.

The opening of Diagon Alley is expected to provide a boost to the theme park's revenues and to tourism in central Florida.

The long waits and exuberant fans were reminiscent of the 2010 opening of Hogsmeade Village, the theme park's original Harry Potter attraction.

This time, however, gridlock did not spill over to the interstate highway and snarl traffic into Orlando as it did in 2010, said a spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol.   Continued...

 
Guests walk in and out of Hogsmeade Village during a media preview for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida June 19, 2014. REUTERS/David Manning