Once we finally made it to the correct park and had our tickets scanned, we scurried over to Diagon Alley. We saw the Knight Bus by a fountain and a white building with pillars. The entrance to Diagon Alley is through the white building! It was hidden and it was really neat to “find” the entrance.
Our first stop was the Gringotts Bank to ride Escape From Gringotts. The dragon on top of the building was amazing and shoots fire every 10 minutes.
Click to play
Even the ride’s queue lines were spectacular. We walked right through the
middle of the bank, with goblin tellers on either side. They moved, blinked,
and occasionally spoke. The line wrapped around to the back and traveled past bank vaults, offices, and record books. There were paintings and newspapers that spoke and moved.
The ride was a 3D adventure. There was a hill/drop towards the beginning, but it wasn’t too far. (If you know me, I hate rollercoasters but this one was ok as far as the drop went. It was totally worth it.) The graphics and interaction with the riders’ cars were impressive. Everyone agreed that it was our favorite ride of the day.
We stopped by Ollivanders to get a wand. We picked out our own wand, we did not do the experience/show. We bought one interactive wand for all of us to share. I picked a Willow Wand. There are spots around Diagon Alley that are for use with the interactive wands. (Think of Magi Quest if you have been to Great Wolf Lodge.) There are spots marked on the map you receive in your wand box and also by gold spots on the ground. We found that if you could find the sensors (black circle with red lights) it worked better. We explored the area and used our wand for a little bit.
We had not eaten yet, so we stopped at the Leaky Cauldron. We ordered a
butterbeer, a frozen butterbeer, sticky toffee pudding, and a scotch egg. The
butterbeer tastes like butterscotch. The frozen butterbeer was similar to a slushy. We liked the frozen butterbeer the best.
We also stopped at the Gringotts Money Exchange. We only exchanged $10. The Gringotts money could be used in the Harry Potter area, changed back to US currency, or I think it would make a cute souvenir (if it was like $1).
We stopped at a souvenir store outside of Universal on our way back to the campground to get Nick a wand. It was about a huge difference in cost ($8.99+tax) compared to the non-interactive wands in the park ($49+tax) and was still labeled “Harry Potter”. The wands in Universal are made from resin. Nick’s wand seemed to be made of lighter weight plastic (it also was a pen and had a light at the tip). For smaller kids who don’t know the difference and will quickly loose interest, or even older kids who just wants it as a souvenir, it might be a good way to go.