Potterwatch: There be dragon at Universal

Things are falling into place for Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- Diagon Alley, and in some cases, they're being lifted into place. Over the weekend, a crane put a 60-foot dragon atop the area's centerpiece attraction, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts.

The figure was soon surrounded by scaffolding and material that keeps folks from getting a clear view. It can be seen from a handful of vantage points within the park although it cannot be seen from the contruction area directly in front of the London landscape.

There's still no official opening date for the attraction from the Universal Orlando camp. But it feels like a good time to review what we do know.

+ That dragon is a Ukrainian Ironbelly, and it's designed to breath fire at random intervals. 

+ Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts is a "multi-dimensional, mulit-sensory attraction," according to Universal press releases. And it's not a roller coaster. It's 3-D. Expect to see Harry and friends, goblins, the Gringotts vaults, the Death Eater and He Who Must Not Be Named.

+ Inside Diagon Alley, aside from the Gringotts ride, will be the Leaky Cauldron restaurant, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes store, Borgin and Burkes (at Knockturn Alley), Magical Menagerie, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment and another Ollivaders wand shop.

+ The Hogwarts Express train will carry paying customers -- those with two-park tickets -- between the original Wizarding World at Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios' new Diagon Alley. On Sunday, we saw the train move, with steam coming out and a whistle blowing. My question: How will Universal get people to leave the train, which is said to be a replica of the vehicle seen in the "Potter" films.

+ Universal has long said that Diagon Alley will open in "summer," not giving a specific date. Related dates have been shared, including a media preview June 17-20 and a visit from Jimmy Fallon, who will tape four episodes of "The Tonight Show" June 16-June 19 on the Universal Studios back lot. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on June 18, 2010.


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