With the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando did not set out to create just a ride or two, but, instead, insert guests into a living, breathing, working community of wizards plucked from J.K. Rowling’s imagination. The shows and character interaction are crucial to achieving that vision, and Universal surpassed the high standard of Hogsmeade with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley entertainment. Rich, varied, and multi-layered, Diagon Alley entertainment runs the gamut from sinister wizards haunting Knockturn Alley, a chummy Knight Bus Conductor cracking jokes with a shrunken head, cabaret performance by a singing sorceress, to an elaborate full-fledged stage show. Continue reading for photos, video, and reviews of Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley entertainment offerings.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Greed… Power… Death… heady themes for a theme park show, but The Tale of the Three Brothers takes on all three themes – and delivers a powerful performance that stands up to the striking animation in the Harry Potter film and stays faithful to the fable that explains and ties the Deathly Hallows. The show is performed by a troupe of four actors from the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts, and uses theatrical puppets created by award-winning designer Michael Curry (Tony award for The Lion King and designer of the Maleficent steampunk dragon float in Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade).
During your visit to Diagon Alley, note of the time of this performance, find a seat, and enjoy the short but powerful show.
The troupe also performs The Fountain of Fair Fortune where three witches and a knight meet during their attempt to reach the Fountain in an enchanted garden.
Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
Diagon Alley entertainment is not all moral tales, and witches and wizards let their hair down when Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees take the stage. The “singing sensation of the wizarding world” performs a jazzy set of magically inspired numbers such as “A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love,” “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart” and “You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me.” All titles were created by J.K. Rowling herself; listen closely to the lyrics for information about Celestina’s wand from Pottermore.
Toes will tap, fingers will wave, and audience members will get swept up into the show – grab a Butterbeer or a Dragon Scale brew and enjoy the musical stylings of Celestina and her backup singers.
The Knight Bus
Another fantastic piece of character interaction occurs outside Diagon Alley in London. The Knight Bus Conductor and a Rastafarian Shrunken Head offer an improvisational routine that will delight and surprise. The technologically advanced act is spontaneous with the Shrunken Head responding directly to guests using their names and other personal information throughout the show. I’m still wondering how they pulled it off. If you figure it out, leave a comment below and let me know.
Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC
Ollivanders wand shop has returned to its rightful place in Diagon Alley with a greatly expanded presence. Now, three times as many guests can experience the wand keeper’s show and have a chance to witness “a wand choosing a wizard” first hand. Click here for our full video of the Diagon Alley Ollivanders wand experience. Hopefully, the greatly increased capacity of the wand experience will decrease the wait time for this must-see experience.
While the Ollivanders wand experience may not have changed, the wands themselves are certainly different. Special interactive wands are available for purchase in Ollivanders’ or Gregorovitch’s wand shops that will allow guests to cast spells throughout the Wizarding World. Wands currently cost $44.95, and will cause various props and set pieces to spin, dance, and levitate in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. It was a real treat to wander through Knockturn Alley with a wand at the ready to fend off any dark magic.
Gringotts Money Exchange
Like “cosplay for your wallet,” why not exchange your boring old greenbacks for Gringotts Notes – the official currency of the Wizarding World. Interact directly with the Gringotts bank teller to switch dollars for notes that can be used for purchases throughout Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and the rest of Universal Orlando Resort.
Streetmosphere Wizards and Witches
Diagon Alley entertainment is not all high-tech gadgets, effects laden shows, and wizardry (errr, strike that, it is all wizardry), hundreds of citizens stroll the streets of Diagon Alley bringing this Wizarding World to life. Ask them for photos, and hear them marvel at a Muggle cell phone. Discuss the latest fashion trends with shopkeepers as you try on robes. Receive a full adoption ceremony when you purchase a magical creature from the menagerie. It’s these performers, in this setting, that fully immerse you, your family and friends in Harry Potter’s world.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley entertainment offerings serve to deepen your involvement in J.K. Rowling’s stories. Don’t just rush from attraction to attraction, take time to savor the people and environs that make up Diagon Alley, and you will have a richer experience within the Wizarding World.
Excited to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley yourself? Just click on the Universal Orlando image above to contact our friends at Destinations in Florida Travel and start planning your visit to Universal Orlando Resort. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.