Hogwarts Express is a broad gauge cable railway inside Universal Studios Orlando.
It moves people from ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley’ in Universal Florida to ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (London)’ in the Islands of Adventure.
It runs on a route between King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station. Since both the parks feature the Harry Potter themed area, this train is a convenient way to explore the entire area.
It is hugely popular, especially among Harry Potter/Hogwarts enthusiasts.
Make the trip like Harry Potter and friends with Universal Studios Hogwarts Express.
Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade
The Universal Orlando Hogwarts Express operates within the Harry Potter zone of the park. It takes guests between the two parts of the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ area.
The area was first opened in the Islands of Adventure and was a huge success. It saw a 36% increase in attendance at Islands of Adventure.
This motivated the park to expand the area into Universal Studios Florida.
Not just that, it is also expected to be a part of the Universal Epic Universe, a fourth theme park under construction in Universal Orlando.
Besides the Hogwarts Express, this area has many other themed rides such as roller coasters, dark rides and more.
Visitors can also enjoy shows, restaurants and merchandise shops in addition to the famous rides.
Everything here, from its names to its design and presentation is based on the popular novels and movies’ characters.
This is one of the busiest and most sought-after areas in both the amusement parks.
The visitors can travel both ways through Hogwarts Express.
King’s Cross Station
The King’s Cross Station is built as a quarter replica of London King’s Cross Railway Station. It is situated in the Diagon Alley region.
Visitors enter the station building and proceed to the departure board past stacked suitcases and a shop selling British food and drinks.
The whole setting is as seen in Harry Potter movies. The passengers then arrive at the signs of Platform 9 and Platform 10.
Visitors walk through a wall to Platform 93⁄4.
The park uses ‘ghost pepper’ illusion to achieve this. After arriving at the Platform, visitors wait for the train to return to King’s Cross and for the passengers to get off before they board the Universal Studios Orlando Hogwarts Express.
Visitors can see many familiar sights while on the train if they’ve watched the films.
Hedwig the owl follows the train for a while, the spooky dementors make an appearance, Harry and friends are seen looking for food in the video playing on the train.
The train enters a tunnel and at the exit is Malfoy Manor. Upon entering another tunnel, the lights go out and a dementor appears inside the train.
It runs into Harry who defeats it. As the second tunnel is exited, visitors can see Hagrid on his motorbike outside the train, Hogwarts in the background.
The famous Ford Anglia car used by Harry and Ron in one of the films to reach the school appears next and drives through a forest. It crashes as the train exits the forest.
The journey concludes at Hogsmeade station as visitors are greeted by Hagrid.
While mainly used for transportation, the special effects and video story that goes on through the train make it feel like a ride itself.
The Hogwarts Express Universal Studios experience is different when returning or going to King’s Cross from Hogsmeade.
Ticket inspectors check your tickets and you go through a forest-like area to the station building. Upon reaching the platform, you wait for the train to arrive and empty out before hopping on.
The Hogwarts Express then departs to King’s Cross and the video story inside the compartment begins with Hagrid waving farewell from the outside.
You see Harry, Ron and Hermione looking for an empty compartment. Buckbeak is seen flying outside as Hogwarts fades to the background.
The train goes through a forest area where centaurs can be seen from the windows. Also, catch a glimpse of Hogwarts one final time.
Fred and George Weasley then appear on broomsticks bursting crackers. The train enters a tunnel and the end of it is a storm and Malfoy Manor.
Lightning strikes a tree and a quick glimpse of Voldemort can be seen.
As the train passes through a second tunnel, Harry, Ron and Hermione appear in the train corridor once again.
A licorice spider crawls up a door and Harry eats it, much to Ron’s disgust as they continue down the corridor.
The train passes a factory and a few houses and the Knight Bus makes an appearance struggling through tight gaps between buildings and shrinking to pass a bridge.
The train then arrives at King’s Cross Station where you are greeted by Alastor Moody.
You get off the train and proceed to the London waterfront adjacent to Diagon Alley after exiting Platform 93⁄4.
How does the train work?
With Hogwarts Express, Orlando Universal not just found a way to link the two ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ areas but also provided entertainment to those on board this 4 minute and one second long ride.
To ride Hogwarts Express, you need a dual park ticket that allows admission to the parks on the same day.
Almost 30,000 people take the train every day.
The train runs on a single track. It is an elevated cable railway that is 676 m long with a track gauge of 1800 mm (5 ft 10 7⁄8 in ).
The cable winding motor at King’s Cross has a 215 kilowatts rated load with maximum rating of 636 kilowatts.
The Hogwarts Express is made up of two train cars that seat 168 passengers and 3 attendants each. Thus, 336 visitors and 342 total people make a trip in one cycle.
The train has a replica steam locomotive and three sets of passenger coaches that feature seven compartments.
The seating is eight passengers per compartment.
The ‘windows’ of the train are actually curved screens with a projection system fitted.
The wizard train moves at a speed of 12 kmh (7.6 mph). Since both train cars face Hogsmeade, they go straight to Islands of Adventure but must come back in reverse.
The trains are only designed on one side and the platforms are located to the left. There is no design on the other side as it isn’t seen by people.
Two different videos play on the ‘windows’ of the train. One while going to Hogsmeade and the other while heading to King’s Cross. There is also background music in those videos.
The interior of the trains was previewed by the park before the opening of Hogwarts Express to build anticipation.
No one is restricted from getting on board (with a ticket obviously) and the ride is kid and family-friendly, but those under 48 inches in height need to be accompanied by a guardian.
Get a two-park Universal Pass to hop on board the train and get skip-the-line access across parks.
The Hogwarts Express opened up to massive crowds and received great acclaim, with guests and critics praising the special effects, the designs and the fact that the train itself feels like an attraction and not just a transportation service.
A little bit of criticism was drawn over the train only running backwards from Hogsmeade and the capitalistic 2-ticket requirement.
Overall, it was a success and saw an increase of over a million visitors annually at Universal Studios Florida.
How long is the Hogwarts Express ride?
The Hogwarts Express ride is short and sweet. It lasts for 4 minutes and a second.
The passengers are kept busy through a story that plays out in the train through projections.
Is the Hogwarts Express worth it?
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