PotterWatch 2.0: Hogwarts Express testing begins at Universal Orlando

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Slow-speed Hogwarts Express testing has begun at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (photo by Seth Kubersky)

Exciting news, Harry Potter fans: Hogwarts Express testing has commenced at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort! The iconic Hogwarts Express trains, which were lifted onto their elevated rails in late October, began slow-speed movement tests over the weekend.

It will still be many months before guests get to ride the Hogwarts Express attraction, which is expected to officially debut in June 2014. When complete, the Hogwarts Express will provide transportation between the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley expansion in Universal Studios Florida, and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.

Ordinarily, the Touring Plans team would be the first to bring you footage of the Hogwarts Express testing, but this time our friends at Orlando Attractions Magazine have beat us to the punch (blame our post-Thanksgivukha turkey & latke hangovers). Check out their video below, which also includes some shots of the London Waterfront construction, and check back here often for further PotterWatch progress updates on Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Subscribe to our Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar to get the best Universal Orlando wait-time data and touring plans, and check back soon for the next Wizarding World of Harry Potter construction update!


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Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

10 thoughts on “PotterWatch 2.0: Hogwarts Express testing begins at Universal Orlando

  • December 5, 2013 at 12:44 am

    From the looks if it the windows seem to be tinted. Do you think they would show some type of video on the windows to give the effect that you are actually traveling to Hogwarts. Or will they just be regular glass windows? Because if that’s the case the guest will see a lot of backstage areas which takes away from the feel of bring on the train to Hogwarts.

    • December 5, 2013 at 10:44 am

      The windows you can see facing the park are tinted opaque. The windows on the opposite side are “magical” glasses-free 3D screens that will show a virtual journey to Hogwarts. Guests will never see the real backstage.

      • December 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

        Thanks Seth. I had a feeling they would add something magical to it.

  • December 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Sorry if this sounds naive but if you want to see all of Harry Potter World, once this expansion is complete, will you need to purchase tickets for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure?

    • December 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      That is correct, if you want to see both sides of the Wizarding World you will need tickets to both Universal parks. Just like if you want to see all of Finding Nemo at WDW you need tickets to both Epcot and Animal Kingdom, or if you want to see all of Toy Story you need tickets to both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. The difference is you will have complete themed environments with rides/shopping/food/atmosphere in each park, as opposed to just stand-alone attractions… (let the debates commence!)

      • December 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm

        Seth I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m a local (Tampa) and I alternate annual passes each year between Universal and Disney. I’m on Disney this year (last year Universal) and honestly I regret switching to Disney.

        There is very little love for AP holders. This whole fast pass+ is a disaster. I am looking forward to going back to Universal and this time I’m going with the premium passes.

        Seriously after years of construction the best Disney can come up with is a dark ride and a resteraunt?

      • December 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

        At the rate Disney is moving, you may do better sticking with Universal APs for 2 or 3 years. That way you get the renewal discount, and by 2017 WDW should finally have a new E-ticket.

      • December 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        Another thing that I have noticed is how often rides are “down” at WDW and how so much of Disney is just not being maintained the way it used to. Its a shame.

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