It’s been three years since the last movie and seven since the final book came out, but the magical spirit of Harry Potter has not diminished one bit among fans of both series.
Starting July 8, they’ll get to experience even more of the Potterverse in person when the Diagon Alley expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Orlando. On Wednesday, several cast members from the movie series stopped by for a special VIP and media preview, which also served as a reunion of sorts.
Though Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson (aka Harry, Ron, and Hermione) were not in attendance for the preview, several other cast members who brought some beloved characters to life appeared at Universal Orlando, including: Oliver and James Phelps (George and Fred Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley). Check out some photos of the cast members at the preview in the slideshow above.
"It's great seeing everyone again," Felton said about seeing his former co-stars, according to People. "We've all been catching up – I love it."
Felton also commented on the park itself, calling it “far more immersive” than the film sets themselves since there are no “movie magic” additions like scaffolding or green screens or crew members.
The opening of the expansion comes four years after ‘Wizarding World’ first opened in 2010, allowing guests to step into the world of Harry Potter and visit the village of Hogsmeade. The new Diagon Alley portion, meanwhile, will feature several locations that fans will remember from the stories, such as the Leaky Cauldron pub, Quality Quidditch Supplies, a second Ollivander’s wand shop location, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the delightful joke shop opened by the mischievous Fred and George Weasley.
The new park also includes “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts,” a multi-dimensional ride recreating a similar scene from the final book in which Harry escapes from the wizarding bank on a dragon.
Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are located in different parks at Universal but never fear; visitors who purchase the $136 two-park pass will be able to visit both areas and be whisked from one to the other on the Hogwarts Express itself. You’ll even get to board at Platform 9 ¾.
Book author J.K. Rowling was not in attendance at the preview either, but the latest book under her Robert Galbraith pseudonym, The Silkworm, was released on Thursday.