Muggles Welcomed

Colleen Rock, Staff Writer

While standing outside in Florida’s humid heat, I wait to make my way into Universal Studios newest expansion- Diagon Alley- where you can fully emerge yourself into the world of the widely known book series Harry Potter. From the oddly shaped buildings with a variety of colors, to the food and drinks; you are now in the Harry Potter universe.

In the expansion, there is a new 3D ride called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts that takes you into the depths of the grand marble bank with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  The trio help you escape from Voldemort and Bellatrix, as well as trolls and other creatures. The line to get on the ride is horrendous if you don’t have early park admission. However, if you’re staying in a on-site hotel, you’ll be able to get into Diagon Alley before the park officially opens. For me, with the early park admission, I waited in line for 75 minutes instead of the normal wait time of 210 minutes. If waiting in a long line isn’t your forte, the stores will make up for it.

The park holds the famous stores you’ve read about in the book. Like Ollivanders, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions, Borgin and Burkes, and many others. While looking around at the different shops there will be live performances by Celestina Warbeck and a story telling from the book Beedle the Bard.

After shopping you can go eat at The Leaky Cauldron, where the menu holds popular British food like Fish & Chips, Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Fisherman’s Pie, and Ploughman’s Lunch. The restaurant also has the famous drink Butter beer- I recommend Frozen Butter beer- and other drinks such as Pumpkin Juice.

Then, if you want to go over to Hogsmeade you can take the Hogwarts Express. While passing through London you will find Kings Cross station, where you can go through platforms 9 and 10 to get to 9 3/4. In the train you’ll be able to see many beloved characters on the “window” and on the doors that let you into your compartment. It holds about eight people in a compartment, and moves like you’re on an actual train. However, in order to go over to Hogsmeade you need a two-park pass, that will get you into both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Universal Studios really outdid themselves by putting in this expansion that’s so close to the real thing. As a Harry Potter fan, I was very impressed by how well they did, and I’m already planning my next trip.