True Harry Potter fans have never quite come to terms with the fact that there are no more books to be written or movies to be made. No matter how many times we can burn through our eight-disc sets of DVDs, we can't quite grasp that the end came years ago. When Harry Potter world opened in Orlando in 2010 it was almost too good to be true for Potterheads. We could now venture into the world that before we could previously only picture while reading or watch on screen. And things are about to get even better for us when the newest addition to Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley, opens July 8.
On Monday night, NBC took us through the making of our favorite fictional street of magical shops in the Making of Diagon Alley special and let us in on some of the secrets that made Harry Potter come to life—because it's real for us. Here's what we learned.
They Kept Things Accurate—Down To The Hinges
Universal Studios' technical team followed J.K. Rowling's books and the movies to ensure that everything they made for the park was flawless. They constructed The Hogwarts Express perfectly, and then added a little tough love to make it look like it had made the trip between London and Hogwarts more than a few times. Not to mention, the train actually goes from Hogsmeade to "Kings Cross Station" so you can step out in "London" and find your way past the Knight Bus to Diagon Alley.
On your train ride from Hogsmeade and on the Gringotts ride, keep your eyes out for some of the film's real cast members. Ron, Fred, George, Hagrid, Bellatrix, and even Voldemort make appearances with original scenes while you explore the newest part of The Wizarding World. Some of the original crew and original orchestra also worked together to bring these new scenes into reality. One thing the geniuses behind the world won't reveal: the magic behind how exactly you get from Platform 9 3/4 to the muggle part of Kings Cross.
Creators at the park had to make elements real that even the films' sets didn't include, because unlike the film scenery, the park is a 360 degree experience. Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films, confirmed that Diagon Alley was "more detailed than on the set" when she had a private visit with her movie brothers James and Oliver Phelps, who played Fred and George. Thankfully, both are alive and well, and have both of their ears.
They Added Original Elements, But Kept It True To The Story
You don't need magic or Hagrid's mysterious pink umbrella to get through the brick wall behind the Leaky Cauldron. The creators left the asymmetrical arch in the wall for us muggles to ease on through. In Diagon Alley, they also brought to life some of the story's more subtle details. Molly Weasley's favorite witch singer, Celestina Warbeck, sings never-before heard songs with some banshee backup singers. Actors also bring some of the fairy tales Harry Potter readers were treated to in the seven books to a stage in the park.
Unfortunately, we won't get to have the Phelps brothers play tricks on us, like they did their fictional little sister in the real life version of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. That's okay, though, because every other detail is close enough to the realistic fiction we know, down to interactive wands that make magic happen in shop windows, and responsive goblins who greet you at Gringotts.
It's these details that should make visiting Diagon Alley an amazing experience for any Harry Potter fan, and after getting a look inside, I'm ready to claim my seat on the Hogwarts Express.