I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to continue sharing about our trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but as I mentioned last week, some pretty crazy things happened in life and everything else had to take a back seat. But, I’m excited to revisit my memories from this trip and share all my tips/tricks for visiting Diagon Alley so that anyone else who is planning on going has an idea of what to expect and what to look for!
In case you missed it, you can read Part One of the Ultimate Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: When to Go & Where to Stay and Part Two: Guide to Hogsmeade and get all the details for your future trip!
Welcome to Diagon Alley!
Diagon Alley was opened a few years after Hogsmeade and it’s about twice the size. It has a COMPLETELY different feel and atmosphere than Hogsmeade, which makes it even more exciting. You don’t feel like you are seeing the same things in Diagon Alley that you saw in Hogsmeade. You would actually never know that Diagon Alley was in the park if you weren’t looking for it. Nestled in between San Francisco and the Men in Black attraction is a row of brick houses, a giant archway into Kings Cross Station and a street cart with British Merchandise. If you look closely at the row of houses, you may see some movement behind a curtain…because it’s not an ordinary row of houses! It’s Number 12 Grimmauld Place and Kreacher is peaking out at all the people below!
You have to actually walk into the brick building and (with the sounds of bricks moving as you pass through an arch and turn the corner) you walk into Diagon Alley. It’s COMPLETELY hidden from the rest of the park, which makes it feel so authentic to the Harry Potter World. And, at the end of the crooked cobblestone street is Gringotts with the dragon towering over ahead and blowing fire. It literally took my breath away the first time we walked into it.
There is only one main ride in Diagon Alley, besides the train ride to get there if you are coming from Hogsmeade. Although I was initially disappointed about this, I was so blown away by the size and detail in Diagon Alley that it didn’t bother me at all by the end of the day.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts 5/5 Stars: I’m not even kidding when I say that I burst into tears half-way through this ride from sheer joy. I felt totally and completely emerged in the Harry Potter world and on a real adventure with Harry and his friends.
Like the rides in Hogsmeade, this isn’t just a ride; it’s a complete experience that starts the second you get into line. You first wind your way through the top of Gringotts, which is built to full scale with the marble pillars and perfectly detailed goblins weighing gold coins and exchanging money. Once again, the attention to detail was amazing and I had to REALLY study the goblins to make sure they were, in fact, animatronics.
Once you were through the main part of the bank, you wound your way down to the bank offices, where your photo was taken for your “visitor pass.” The offices all had names on the doors and once in a while, a light would turn on in the office and you could see the silhouette of a goblin walking around or working at his desk.
After getting through the offices, small groups were brought into a room where your adventure officially started. In front of the room was a comfortable looking office and a 3D Bill Weasley and Griphook were projected into the office, walking around and talking about having to go to the bank. They invite you along for a tour, so you move into an “elevator” to get down to the mine cars. It’s not really an elevator, but it feels SO real. The floor and sides of the wall move up and down in bumpy motions, so it feels like you are descending down a deep shaft into the depths below Gringotts. Once your elevator ride is finished, you exit into a cavern that leads you up to the mine carts that take you on the ride.
I won’t spoil the plot of the ride, but just know that your tour of the bank vaults goes wrong very quickly. It’s exciting, it’s fast-paced, and it’s a complete experience, filled with heat and water 4D effects. And, for someone who gets VERY motion sick, I rode this ride three times and barely felt woozy. It wasn’t bad at all!
The longest we ever waited in line for this ride was 20 minutes, tops. It moved really fast and there were so many parts to getting to the ride that you didn’t feel like you were waiting at all. And, because of how the line is set up, once you get to the mine carts, you basically walk right on. I seriously would have ridden this ride all day long if there wasn’t other things to see and experience and it was by far my favorite ride out of all the Harry Potter world attractions.