Universal Orlando is gearing up to open not one, but two new venues this week as their huge CityWalk transition continues. The entertainment district has opened ColdStone Creamery, with an all new Starbucks ready to open at any given moment. While a lot of construction seems to be winding down within the theme parks themselves, there are tons of walls still up and lots of changes, almost on a daily basis. This is all in preparation for the all new Diagon Alley portion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and part of one the largest expansions in Universal Orlando history.
ColdStone Creamery opened it’s doors on Monday for eager fans, as part of the all new CityWalk. Eight new venues are on their way to the dining and entertainment district, including an all new Starbucks. Starbucks is expected to open at the end of the week, just in time for the huge crowds of Mardi Gras this weekend, and Spring Break season which is getting ready to blast into full speed.
Elsewhere in CityWalk, The Universal Store is continuing it’s overhaul as crews work tirelessly on the bigger and more up to date store. The Porch of Indecision at Margarittaville seems to also be getting a facelift, as huge walls around the outside of it are up. It appears the restaurant is getting more outdoor seating, which is always a great addition to any restaurant in CityWalk.
In Islands of Adventure, walls are up around the Lost Continent area, where the former carnival games were. No word on what is going in their place, but our guess is that it has something to do with the addition of Hogsmeade Station in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This area will be where the Hogwarts Express will empty out after it’s long journey from Diagon Alley.
Elsewhere at IOA, Jurassic Park remains closed for it’s annual rehab. The ride is expected to reopen very soon, as warmer weather will have Spring Break crowds ready for a good soak down. The area is also expected to get a new King Kong expansion as well, though it hasn’t been confirmed by Universal. Count it as just a rumor still at this point.
Over at Universal Studios Florida, walls were moved back earlier this week and the “sneak peek” holes were removed from the fences. Guests can no longer get a glimpse at what’s happening in the London area. Why? We happen to have the answer to that.
New walls have been added to the walkway in front of the London Facade. This now blocks the view of the water, and the other side of the park from the path in front of the all new Diagon Alley facade. This path was repaved, and a new bridge was put in last year as part of the expansion. It’s unknown exactly what will be installed, but we are fairly certain that it won’t last very long.
As far as Diagon Alley itself, guests will not be able to see it from the London area, they will have to pass behind The Leaky Cauldron and venture into the alley itself in order to see what the Wizarding World has in store. With that in mind, an all new structure has been erected close to what will be the entrance of Diagon Alley. It appears that it will be an arch of some sort, but nothing more is known at this time, as it appears that it’s fairly new, and not really listed in any concept art. Could this be the beginning of The Leaky Cauldron? It’s been vacant up until this point. We will have to see as new things start to apparate within the new realm.
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We will get more details on Friday about The Hogwarts Express, and as far as we know, Platform 9 3/4, which will also be part of Diagon Alley. It’s a tad too early to be talking about an opening date, though we are hearing that things should be ready for a mid June opening.
Stay tuned as we learn more, and be sure to follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for all the latest updates!