The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley opened officially on July 8, 2014 and features a variety of carefully recreated shops, restaurants and entertainment situated throughout Diagon Alley and the adjacent areas of Horizont Alley, Carkitt Market and Knockturn Alley. The featured attraction is Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts – a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional journey that combines an indoor roller-coaster with a 3D dark ride themed around an incredible adventure where riders navigate their way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults and encounter many familiar friends and foes. This familiar story is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where Harry, Ron, and Hermione con their way into Gringotts Bank to steal (and, ultimately, destroy) the Horcrux in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault that holds one-eighth of evil Lord Voldemort’s soul.
SPOILERS AHEAD: After walking through Diagon Alley, you’ll witness an escaped Ukranian Ironbelly dragon perched atop Gringotts Bank exterior, which growls and snarls every 15-20 minutes before emitting a huge burst of flames from which the heat can be felt on the ground below. The ride queue is an immersive visit to the infamous Wizarding Bank that takes you through the main lobby which is adorned with marble columns, glittering crystal chandeliers, domed atrium ceilings and features animatronic goblin tellers hard at work that interact with visitors while writing on parchment.
After passing the bank manager goblin, which also speaks to you directly and encourages you proceed, you arrive in a corridor of bank offices where an attendant takes your photo for your bank record (also used as a ride souvenir). Then you head down the corridor to Bill Weasley’s office – Ron’s older brother – with whom visitors have an appointment to open a new account. The pre-show scene inside Bill’s office features practical sets in front of a screen that creates a three-dimensional feel. Domhnall Gleeson reprises his role as Bill, welcoming guests to Gringotts and setting up their tour of the vaults below.
After leaving Weasley’s office, guests board one of a pair of lifts for a 10 mile trip down into the Gringotts vaults. The elevators feature shaking floors and guests witness the plummet through the glass ceiling (achieved by perfectly timed video effects). When the doors open, you walk down a hallway to retrieve your cart goggles and then up a spiral staircase to the loading platform to board the the twin, 12-person roller coaster trains.
SPOILERS AHEAD: As you begin your tour, the thieves stealing the Horcrux have been detected and Gringotts’ security defenses are coming to life. Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) appears to curse the visitors as potential accomplices to the theft of her vault. Bill is near, and saves the visitors with an “arresto momentum” spell that angles the track downward and releases the carts into a spiral through the vaults.
Then, the Gringott’s trolls attack, thinking you are the intruder, and they hurl your cart away and plunging down hundreds of feet on a waterfall toward the rapids at the very bottom of the caverns. Bill casts a levitation spell to save you and then sends you off the the vault for safety. Just then, the walls of the vault explode toward you, and the hissing of the snake Nagini warns the arrival of Bellatrix and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
Bellatrix curses the visitors away, careening into the next cavern. But they arrive again, riding plumes of black smoke, to torture you to a fiery death. Harry, Ron and Hermoine arrive atop thew Ukranian Ironbelly dragon which is directed to fend off Voldemort’s fireball. Hermoine throws a chain which is magically hitched to our carts, and the dragon flies the visitors up and out of the cavern to safety. Bill greets you with his congratulations and another encouragement to open your account at Gringott’s – “The safest place on earth!”
Below, is our comprehensive photo gallery for Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts including 70 photos with detailed captions of the exterior approach through Diagon Alley, through the ride queue, into the ride vehicles, official Universal screenshots of the ride experience and the exit through Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment: