As a huge Harry Potter fan, I visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley a lot. And not just because I work here. I visit on my days off too, just to get my fix of Butterbeer or goblins or whatever awesome Harry Potter experience I’m craving. (Needless to say, I recognize how lucky I am!)
As many times as I’ve strolled the streets of Diagon Alley, the authenticity in every detail still amazes me – from the magical items that come to life in the windows of the shops to the scars on the wings of the Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon atop Gringotts bank.
Recently, I got the scoop on all of Diagon Alley’s authentic props and set dressings from Eric Baker, Senior Props Manager with Universal Creative.
Eric and his team spent three years searching the world for the unique elements found in Diagon Alley. They even had the opportunity to comb through Warner Bros.’ warehouses for props and set dressings used in the Harry Potter films.
And when they couldn’t find something, they built it from scratch using molds of props from the Harry Potter films to recreate exact replicas.
“We were able to take things from the movies and make them live on forever for everyone that visits the park,” Eric said.
Check out some of the coolest stories that Eric shared with me:
1. Vanishing Cabinet
Eric and his team recreated the Vanishing Cabinet that was first featured in the film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This piece took six months to make and stands about twelve feet tall inside Borgin and Burkes.
2. Borgin and Burkes
On the second level of Borgin and Burkes, 90 percent of the props and set dressings are straight from the Harry Potter films. Anything look familiar, fans?
3. Gigantic Hand in Borgin and Burkes
Eric and his team found this gigantic hand stored in pieces at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden (U.K.), where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. They used the pieces as molds to recreate it for one of the windows in Borgin and Burkes.
4. Dark Window of Dystyl Phaeleanges
In Knockturn Alley, guests will find the dark window of Dystyl Phaeleanges, Purveyor of Fine Bones and Tusks. The window showcases the skulls of a pixie, house elf, goblin and giant (from left to right). Over the course of three weeks, Eric’s team created them using a 3-D printer.
5. Gringotts Bank Cart
In the queue of Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, guests may spot a Gringotts bank cart that’s awaiting repair. Eric and his team built this cart according to the blueprints of the real cart that Harry, Ron and Hermione rode in the films. The cart weighs 3,500 pounds and is constructed from steel, fiberglass and resin.
6. Broomsticks at Quality Quidditch Supplies
The broomsticks found at Quality Quidditch Supplies were created by Pierre Bohanna, the head props designer for the Harry Potter films, who designed all the broomsticks for the movies. Bonus cool fact—these fierce wizard robes were first seen in one of the moving portraits found in the Gryffindor Common Room of Universal Orlando’s Hogwarts castle.
7. Troll Armor
The troll armor that hangs in an alcove beside the Hopping Pot was forged by a real blacksmith and took eight months to create. To make it look like the armor was used in battle, Eric Baker and Alan Gilmore, the art director for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Harry Potter films, took a sword and went to battle with it.
8. Barometer from Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
At the right of this image, you can see a barometer from Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. This barometer was used twice in the Harry Potter films: in Dumbledore’s office (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and in the Room of Requirement (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).
Next time you’re in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, keep your eyes peeled for all these incredible props that were brought to life by Eric and his team!