After a year of construction, Universal Orlando has finally admitted that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will expand in 2014 with a detailed re-creation of London's Diagon Alley from the wildly popular series of books and movies.
The highly anticipated expansion of the Wizarding World themed land at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Fla., will see the introduction of a Gringotts Bank attraction in a second land at the adjacent Universal Studios Florida theme park.
A Hogwarts Express train will transport visitors between the existing Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure and the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
The second Harry Potter land will be built on the location of the former Jaws attraction, which was demolished more than a year ago.
Of course, as with all things related to Wizarding World, we've known most of this for months if not years. Only now it's finally official.
Which leaves us with what we still don't know - and that's plenty. As you might expect, Internet sleuths have been busy digging for details on Diagon Alley and the new land's planned attractions, restaurants and shops ever since the launch of Project 772 (the codename for the expansion).
Keeping in mind that much of what follows is informed conjecture and speculation, let's take a look at what might be in store for Potter 2.0 at Universal Orlando.
Gringotts Bank coaster
The Gringotts Bank attraction is widely expected to be a first-of-its-kind indoor attraction that combines roller coaster elements with a dark ride experience.
The 3D dark ride will combine a Premier Rides roller coaster track with motion-based ride vehicles, according to Theme Park Insider, according to Theme Park Insider. An elaborate queue will take visitors through a banker's hall, vault display, reading room and Bill Weasley's office.
Expect an appearance by villainess Bellatrix Lestrange as well. The London press reported that Helena Bonham Carter, who played the pure-blood witch in the movies, returned to the Warner Bros. Leavesden studios to film scenes for the Gringotts attraction.
Visitors will enter the ride under a fire-breathing dragon perilously perched atop the Gringotts bank tower, according to an artist rendering.
After passing through the extensive queue, visitors will be transported via elevator into the Gringotts vault. The special effects journey into the underground bank vault is expected to be part of the attraction experience, with the elevator ride simulating both vertical and horizontal movements.
Riders will then board a 24-seat vehicle that features a motion-based platform on top of a roller coaster track. The special effects-laden ride begins with a free-fall drop track section before traveling through scenes with names like Thief's Downfall and Sirius Black's Vault, according to Theme Park Insider.
Hogwarts Express attraction
From the outside, the Hogwarts Express attraction will look like a locomotive with a coal car and three passenger cars, according to Screamscape. Once inside, visitors will sit in individual compartments just like Harry, Ron and Hermione did in the movies.
But rather than windows, the interior of the train will be outfitted with 3-D video screens that create the illusion of passing through the English countryside between Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley.
In reality, two identical trains will each simultaneously depart from their respective stations and travel through a backstage area between the two parks along an elevated track. Unbeknown to the riders inside, the two trains will pass at the midpoint along parallel tracks much like a funicular.
The virtual journey is expected to employ multiple storylines based on the direction riders are traveling, according to Spins the World. The cabins will be equipped with special effects such as heat blasts, flickering lights and leg ticklers. One storyline is expected to include a Dementor attack on the train.