For fans of the Harry Potter books and movies, Universal Orlando’s detail-rich announcement Thursday on how it will double the size of its spectacular Potterverse was cause for great amounts of reminiscing.
Florean Fortescue’s ice cream shop? Who was that again? Wasn’t there a big chase scene in Gringotts bank? And wasn’t Borgin and Burkes that little dark magic shop that sold dangerous magical artifacts like cursed necklaces?
The last of the seven Potter books came out in 2007, and the eighth and final movie came out in 2011, so Potter fans can be forgiven if they’ve forgotten some details.
No memory charms or Remembralls needed. Here is our geeky guide to the back stories of the new features that will be coming this summer to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
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Escape From Gringotts: Probably the most anticipated part of the most anticipated theme park addition of 2014, this ride comes from the award-winning creative team behind the immersive Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Transformers and Spider-Man rides all found at Universal. Gringotts Wizarding Bank is the only bank of the wizarding world. Located in London’s wizard shopping district – that is, Diagon Alley – it is owned and operated by goblins. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry and his friends enact a thrilling break-in of the bank and escape on the back of a dragon.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour: Muggles at Universal can get strawberry-and-peanut butter ice cream and other flavors. The ice cream shop gets its name from a character in the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry Potter stayed at the Leaky Cauldron for a couple of weeks. Florean Fortescue gave Harry free ice cream sundaes and helped him complete his History of Magic homework on the medieval witch-burnings.
Borgin and Burkes: To be located in Knockturn Alley, the darkest of side trips from Diagon Alley, this shop specializes in dark magical objects. In Chamber of Secrets, just before Harry starts his second year at Hogwarts, he accidentally takes a wrong turn in the Floo Network and finds himself in the shop where he first spots Tom Riddle’s Diary in a shop lined with an assortment of human bones, a pack of bloody cards and an array of leering masks on the walls. The theme park version will offer Death Eater masks, skulls and other sinister items.
Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions: This is one of Harry’s first stops in the first book and is the scene in many of the books where characters reunite or bicker with bullies like Draco Malfoy before school begins. Theme park visitors will find a variety of wizard wear, from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes. Now if only these robes could match the book version, where all robes are self-ironing and self-repairing.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes: This was the name of the joke shop on Diagon Alley founded by Fred and George Weasley. They sold practical joke objects, such as extendable ears for eavesdropping, love potions and Fanged Frisbees. The theme park version is absorbing Zonko’s toy shop already at Islands of Adventure (allowing the Honeydukes candy store next door to take the extra space). In Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George talked about buying Zonko’s in Hogsmeade before opening their Diagon Alley store, so this move makes sense.
Hogwart’s Express: One of the most talked-about features of the new expansion is the iconic train that will usher visitors between both Universal theme parks. The park designers worked closely with Stuart Craig and the production team from the Harry Potter films to make an almost-replica of the train that will allow guests to board at King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade, passing through London – but that means you need a two-park pass to ride it.