A thrill ride that combines characters with innovation
By Dave Parfitt
New Wizarding World of Harry Potter Attraction: Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Orlando)
The rush of air you felt was the collective exhale of Potterheads as they learned key details of Universal Orlando’s signature attraction for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Taking an iconic moment from J.K. Rowling’s final book in the epic saga, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts delves deep below Diagon Alley’s Gringotts bank caverns to bring families face to face with a Dragon, Guard Trolls, Goblins, and the ultimate dark wizard himself – Lord Voldemort.
(MORE: View a family trip plan: 11 days in Orlando with kids.)
Gringotts in Universal Studios Orlando (Universal Studios Orlando)
Not quite a roller coaster, Universal Orlando calls Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts a “next-generation” thrill ride integrating fully-immersive sets, 4K digital hi-def animation, 3D projection, and live effects to create a seamless attraction. “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will change the way you think about theme park attractions,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative. ”We’ve created an entirely new type of ride that propels guests into the story like never before, and guests will remember it long after their visit to Diagon Alley.”
Escape from Gringotts Ride in Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Orlando)
Fans of the Harry Potter books and films will delight to see their favorite characters before them including Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as they travel through Gringotts with Griphook the goblin. As Harry and his friends follow their journey, your 12 passenger ride vehicle meets up with the villainous Bellatrix Lestrange who ultimately sends you to the bank’s nether regions inhabited by a fire-breathing Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts culminates with an intense confrontation with He Who Must Not Be Named, Lord Voldemort himself.
(MORE: Find a kid-friendly hotel near Universal Studios.)
Carts and tracks at the New Gringotts Ride in Universal Orlando (Universal Studios Orlando)
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will anchor the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opening this summer, 2014. In addition to this thrill ride, wannabe wizards can also journey aboard the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (located in Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park; 2 park tickets required). Other elements of the new land include Ollivanders wand shop and other marketplaces from the Potter-verse as well as Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour and Leaky Cauldron restaurant.
Watch a video from the makers of the ride HERE. You can find more details on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter by visiting the Universal Orlando website.
Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Photo: Booking.com)
If you are planning an exquisite family vacation with The Wizarding World as a checkpoint, Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a place to spend a time to remember. One hour prior to park opening, Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort provides Early Park Admission to both Volcano Bay and The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM. (Selected attractions; valid theme parking admission required.)
Between Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the resort offers a complimentary shuttle service. A fire pit, gaming area, and fitness center are among the many on-site amenities.
The resort is 8 minutes’ drive from Orlando Premium Outlets – International Drive and 10 minutes’ drive from SeaWorld Orlando. The distance to Orlando International Airport by car is 17 minutes.
Best Western Orlando Gateway Hotel (Photo: Booking.com)
A more budget-friendly, but very decent place to stay with a family or your Potterhead friend is Best Western Orlando Gateway Hotel – and it offers discounted prices for rooms at this time of the year!
This hotel is situated in Orlando, Florida, and provides complimentary shuttle service to nearby attractions including SeaWorld and Universal Studios. The hotel offers on-site dining, and each room has a flat-screen TV. Walt Disney World is 22 miles away from the property.
Traditional American fare is served in the on-site Sharky & Jack’s Restaurant, which is open for breakfast and supper and has a full bar. The hotel’s Shades Deli serves sandwiches, pizza, pastries, and a range of drinks throughout the day.
The Premier Outlet Mall is 3.2 kilometers away from the Best Western Orlando Gateway. 23 kilometres separate you from Orlando International Airport.
Dave Parfitt of Adventures by Daddy contributed this to www.MiniTime.com.