Throngs of people young and old gathered, many in full wizard robes, in 100-degree Orlando humidity. The Wizarding World’s much-anticipated expansion, Diagon Alley, was greeted with much sweat and even more tears of happiness when it opened its doors to fans earlier this month.
The designers, architects, and developers, many of whom worked on the HP films themselves, went to great lengths for the London-esque section to make the experience as authentic (and magical) as possible. Guests can stop inside the Leaky Cauldron and try bangers and mash or fish and chips, the marshmallow-sweet Butterbeer and even new creations like draught beers and ice cream flavors created exclusively for the park itself.
The Hogwarts Express now runs between the two parks, and guests get a different experience traveling in each direction. We won’t spoil the journey, but run-ins with favorite characters are highly possible, not to mention an eerie encounter with some dark magical creatures.
Though early lines were manageable for entrance into the park, the wait time for the new ride, Harry Potter “Escape From Gringotts,” reached up to a 450-minutes. But Potter enthusiasts barely flinched.
In tandem, J.K. Rowling also added a new article on her Pottermore website timed with the opening. The “where are they now” update on the three main characters spawned wide discussion as well as crashing the site.
Needless to say, Potter magic (and mania) are still as vibrant as ever.
Megan Soll is Travel + Leisure's Digital Intern