Orlando, Fl had all the aesthetics of London in a strip, just not the weather (as the stars commented). King's Cross entrance, Victorian buildings and Grimmauld Place stood as Diagon Alley's invisibility cloak. With the Knight Bus parked out front, the stars arrived.
What happened: Day 1
James and Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis and Evanna Lynch answer questions about the park and the difference between film sets and the real thing.
Rupert's co-stars Tom Felton, Helena Bonham Carter, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Domhnall Gleeson, Matthew Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps, Robbie Coltrane and Warwick Davis filled the red carpet on the London street. Since Rupert couldn't attend, we brought him along to meet up with the cast and enjoy the experience. We figured he'd appreciate a little quirkiness on the carpet while he's away.
There was an initial shock to seeing Rupert's face on a stick, which then lead to giggles. Domhnall (Bill Weasley) was the most frightened by the gesture, and Evanna (Luna) wanted a Ron head for herself. There were a few smiling family photos,and the cast of Harry Potter were able to spend some time together again.
Overall, Rupert was missed but accepted on the red carpet alongside his co-star family members and Harry Potter cast, and we got some pretty entertaining photos of the never-before-seen cut out Rupert head red carpet appearance.
What they said:
On the red carpet, the cast talks a bit more about the experience at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.
The Phelps twins spoke to how the new attraction is far better than the sets of the Harry Potter films. However, they didn't feel it insulted the movies because they were made by the same creative and production team. They welcomed muggles into the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes shop, which would certainly make Ron roll his eyes.
Matthew Lewis was excited to see Gringotts in its entirety because he had never been a part of any of those particular scenes in the film. Neville, as per usual, was a tad uneasy about Ron's head floating about.
Evanna Lynch continuously spoke about the immense imagination and detail put into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She was particularly thrilled about finding a crumple horned snorkack in the Magical Menagerie shop. There you can find furry rats like Scabbers, feathered friends like Pigwidgeon or scaly creatures like the dragons Ron's brother trains.
Tom Felton was impressed by the Hogwarts Express and the complete immersion of Diagon Alley. "There isn't a square inch that isn't covered in meticulous detail... It's quite nostalgic. I'm thrilled about [the Harry Potter legacy continuing for years]."
When asked who he'd go with to the park as a fan, he answered his mom, but we quickly reminded him (with Rupert's face) of how much more fun they'd have if they went together as Tupert. He caught on quick.
Helena Bonham Carter couldn't imagine what Bellatrix would do if she knew muggles were gallivanting about the wizarding world. She did love the chocolate chili ice cream though. We see Ron battle with a dragon and Bellatrix as they try to escape Gringotts Bank.
Warwick Davis was (obviously) most excited about the Gringotts Bank opening and the goblins inside. The adventure really speeds on the Escape from Gringotts where he (as Griphook) and Bill Weasley help muggles escape the danger of what lies among the vaults.
After the red carpet reveal, the cast and guests went inside Diagon Alley for food (undeniably Ron's favorite part of the night). Rupert, seeing as he loves all types of food would have gone mad with the variety of food stations: cheeses, lamb, English potatoes... and TONS of different, delicious desserts, which can be purchased around Diagon Alley at the Leaky Cauldron.
Rupert would enjoy the Leaky Cauldron, not only for it's authentic, elaborate design but for its vast selection of food. From fish and chips to fisherman's pie, bangers and mash, and sticky toffee pudding, the food has a tasty spell on it.
The press conference consisted of the previous night's stars further explaining their amusement and pleasure to be in the world once again and to go shopping!
Walking through Diagon Alley, Horizont Alley, Carkitt Market and the dark Knockturn Alley, you're surrounded by cheery witches and wizards and small magic-infused shops. Unlikely to enjoy shopping, Ron would likely be seen in Quality Quidditch Supplies trying on gear from his glory days or buying new Chudley Cannons merch or utterly consumed by Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlour (where there is an amazingly scrumptious Butterbeer ice cream. Rupert should look into getting the soft serve in his van).
Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes features all the Weasley magic you can imagine. Ron's brothers knew just how to create an atmosphere of mischief, wonder and color. It almost seems to have a charm on it because the stairs climb to high ceilings and a sky light revealing a constant Weasley firework show. Skiving snack boxes are stacked up the walls (but don't worry, they wont make your nose bleed), extendable ears hang about, sticky trainers climb the walls and pranks run rampant. Keeping the business running is a laugh away.
Not being the best at direct magic or keeping wands in tact, Ron might avoid the interactive wand spell casting, but Ron's particular wand (available for purchase) is a hot item in Ollivander's Wands. Rupert wanted to keep his wand from the sets, but now he, and you, can have Ron's weapon against the world.
Ron might longingly look into Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions at the impressively sharp ropes, never before worn by a sibling or great aunt Tessie. They do sell, happy for us, Ron's first Christmas jumper from his mom as well.
Ron would most certainly stay out of the dark, questionable Knockturn Alley where shrunken heads sing and Borgin and Burkes sells horcrux-able items like the necklace Ron destroyed.
We know where we can absolutely find Hermione (and an obligated Ron) along Diagon Alley: House Elf Placement Agency. Whether helping create equal rights, making clothes or posting SPEW ads along the walls.
Seeing as the majority of the Weasley siblings were in attendance, it's clear on their return that they would spoil it all for Ron, make him drool over descriptions of sweets, new Quidditch equipment and the excitement of muggles being introduced to the wizarding world. Ron would likely retort with a jab against the scorching hot weather
Where to find Ron:
The tall London-esque buildings hide you from the outside world and the outside world from the fire-breathing dragon atop Gringotts. In The Escape from Gringotts, is where we see brave Ron on the dragon's back once again. He comes to our muggle rescue (wearing his dark disguise) in this thrilling adventure much like in The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Gringotts was scary enough in the films, but Rupert would undoubtedly enjoy the ride. (No spiders.)
Riding the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade, through platform 9 3/4 to London, make sure to keep your eyes on the window as well as the inside door. Ron is likely to make an appearance with Harry and Hermione. He might even look in at you. You can hear the voices of your Hogwarts classmates walking by your seat and see other characters outside!
The Weasley twins give you a preview of the experience as well.
What we suggest:
Interactive wands to cast spells and perform magic has to be tried by any hopeful witch or wizard. Having a wand choose you is also an incredible experience mandatory for any serious magic casters. Looking into the windows of all the shops, you'll find small details and hints from the books and movies inside. The cobblestone streets are picturesque to the overall London experience, and the Hogwarts Express does not disappoint.
So even if you've been to Hogsmeade at Universal Studios or Leavesden Studios in London, you'll never experience anything as imaginative as Diagon Alley, and you'll likely never have a better dessert than butterbeer ice cream.
We had an enchantingly good time in Orlando at Universal Studios, and we recommend you ALL to explore the new Diagon Alley and its massive, magical entirety.
The new Diagon Alley opens to the public on July 8th!