Some lucky families had the chance to actually go into Diagon Alley, where the scaffolding has been down for a while now, and view the presentation live in Gringotts. For everyone else, the half-hour webcast was streamed live online.
The webcast featured Mark Woodbury of Universal Creative, Matthew Lewis (Neville), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood). You can see some stills from the presentation in the slideshow accompanying this article, including a peek on to Hogwarts Express.
Woodbury said, "We knew we had created something spectacular (with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and revolutionized the entertainment experience. We knew there were more stories to tell."
Diagon Alley is bringing those stories to life this summer, and it was built at Universal Studios Florida rather than Islands of Adventure to separate the two areas just as they're separate in the movie. If you have a two-park ticket, you'll be able to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two parks.
Universal's Thierry Coup was on the train, which he says will offer a seamless adventure between the two worlds, along with Lynch. She declared it even more realistic than the films. See some of the concept art in this article.
The new area will feature a wide variety of stores, including places to buy Quidditch supplies, costumes, and caldrouns. That means a change for the original Wizarding World, where Honeydukes will be expanded at the expense of Zonkos. The Zonkos merchandise will move to the new Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes store. Of course, there will be a second Ollivanders Wand Shop, too.
Dining will include Harry's favorite ice cream shop, plus Three Broomsticks and more. But of course the most eagerly awaited part of the ride will be Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, which Woodbury calls a "multi-sensory, multi-diminsional adventure." He says the ride will be suitable for families, and of course the Hogwarts Express is for all ages.
Fear fans will be able to navigate Knocturn Alley, which the actors got to preview and which they universally characterized as terrifying.
Lynch summed up their feelings by pointing out that they never got to experience the world of Harry Potter as a whole, since they were working on sets and shooting out of sequence. That won't be a problem in Diagon Alley, which creates another part of Harry's world in painstaking detail.
This weekend's Harry Potter Celebration is open to everyone with park tickets. It runs Friday through Sunday at both parks, with an expo, panel discussions, meet and greats with cast members, and more. Come out between Jan. 24 and 26 to see it for yourself, and watch for the Diagon Alley opening date, which will be announced soon.