Description And Comments
Part of the genius of creating Diagon Alley at USF is that it is connected to Hogsmeade at IOA by the Hogwarts Express, just as in the novels and films. The counterpart to Universal Studios' King's Cross is Hogsmeade Station, which lies within the footprint of the Dragon Challenge roller coaster and provides pedestrian access to Hogsmeade and IOA’s Lost Continent themed area. Hogsmeade Station also lacks other King's Cross amenities like air conditioning and an in-queue snack stand, though there is a moving carriage (drawn by an invisible thestral) at the exit.
Once on the platform, you'll be assigned to one of the 3 train cars' 7 compartments. The train itself looks exactingly authentic to the n-th degree from the billowing steam to the brass fixtures and upholstery in your 8-passenger private cabin. Along your one-way Hogwarts Express journey, you'll see moving images projected beyond the windows of the car rather than the park’s backstage ares, with the streets of London and Scottish countryside rolling past outside your window. The screen isn't 3-D, but it's slightly curved to conceal the edges and create a convincing illusion of depth. Even more impressive is the frosted glass doors you enter through, which turn out to be amazing screens that makes it seem like someone is standing on the other side. You experience a different presentation coming and going, and in addition to pastoral scenery there are surprises appearances by secondary characters (Fred and George Weasley, Hagrid), and threats en route (licorice spiders and a brief glimpse of Voldemort) augmented by temperature and sound effects in the cars.
[Note: Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson did not return to film new footage for the attraction. Harry and Hermione's stand-ins look okay, as they are never seen up close, but Hermione's voice double is dreadful.]
Hogwarts Express isn't an adrenaline rush in the same way that Gringotts is, but for those invested in the Potter lore it may be even more emotionally thrilling. And unlike most Potter attractions, it can be experienced by the whole family, regardless of size.
- Open for Early Park Admission.
Because the Hogsmeade Station doesn’t include the cool Plat- form 9 3⁄4 effect found at the King’s Cross end, expect waits for the one- way trip to be shorter here.
On days of low-to-average attendance, disembarking guests will be allowed directly into Hogsmeade, less than a minute’s walk away. On days of heavy attendance, they’ll be directed to the bridge between The Lost Continent and Jurassic Park, where they’ll have to either queue to enter Hogsmeade or obtain a free timed-entry ticket to visit The Wizarding World at a specified time.
Universal was somehow surprised by a survey that showed guests considered the Hogwarts Express an attraction rather than merely transportation connecting the two parks. This “revelation” threw the creative team into a tizzy about how they could increase the capacity of the train—a task made all the more difficult because the stations and track were already under construction.
There’s a capacity-versus-authenticity issue front and center with the Hogwarts Express—and if you know J. K. Rowling’s reputation for perfectionism where adaptations of her books are concerned, you know the sticky wicket this presented for Universal. The train cars from the films and novels are divided into private compartments that seat eight, but replicating those compartments means fewer seats and longer loading times (and longer queues, too).
As a result, not everyone in one or the other park may be able to experience the train, because its carrying capacity is relatively small and the track can accommodate only two trains, each moving in a different direction and passing one another in the middle of the journey. This leaves Universal with a few crowd-mitigating options.
- First, because using the train for a one-way trip involves park-hopping, one-way passengers will need a valid Park-to-Park ticket. Disembarking passengers must enter the second park and, if desired, queue again for their return trip. There are ticket booths to upgrade your one-park pass at the station entrance.
- Second, Universal Express is ironically unavailable for the Hogwarts Express, at least for the time being.
- Third, on peak attendance days you may only be permitted one ride per day on the Hogwarts Express. If you wish to take a same-day return trip, you may be relegated to a secondary queue that promises to be exponentially slower than the already glacial standby queue.
A Park-to-Park ticket is required to board, and all guests exit at Universal Studios Florida outside of the London Water- front, so the train isn’t a shortcut into Diagon Alley. Park-to-Park ticket-purchasing Potterphiles should make the train their first attraction of the day. If, for example, Diagon Alley is your top priority of the day, enter Islands of Adventure as early as possible and line up at the Hogsmeade Village station for the train to London King’s Cross. Then get a return ticket (if necessary) to reenter the London area. Remember that you may wait in a slow standby line to take a same-day return ride.
- We rate this attraction as Not To Be Missed.
Expect lengthy waits in line. A Park-to-Park ticket is required to experience this attraction.
Wheelchairs and ECVs can be driven onto the train; guests can transfer to a cabin bench seat, or remain in their chair.
Other Attractions in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade
- Dragon Challenge
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- Frog Choir
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Triwizard Spirit Rally
Touring Plans with Hogwarts Express - Hogsmeade Station
- Wizarding World One-Day/Two-Park Plan for Adults with Early Entry PART 2
- Wizarding World One-Day/Two-Park Plan for Adult Off-Site Guests PART 2
- Universal Orlando Two-Day/Two-Park Plan for Adults with Early Entry DAY 2/PART 1
- Universal Orlando Two-Day/Two-Park Plan for Adult Off-Site Guests DAY 2/PART 1
|Wait per 100 people ahead||7 minutes|
When to go
Immediately after park opening.
|Location||The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade|
|Opening Date||July 8, 2014|
|Scope and scale||Headliner|
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