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Review: The Hogwarts Express at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter



By Dave Shute

THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS AT THE WIZARDING WORLDS OF HARRY POTTER

Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter from yourfirstvisit.netThe Hogwarts Express is a train between the two parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley in Universal Orlando’s Universal Studios theme park and Hogsmeade in its Island of Adventure theme park.

Being eligible to ride it requires a more-expensive “Park-to-Park” ticket. The Hogwarts Express has its charms but there’s not a lot to it—except for Harry Potter nuts (you know who you are), who kinda must ride it.

But you can use it and a room in a Universal hotel, which I wildly recommend, to get a somewhat easy day at the Wizarding World’s Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. More on this below.

The Hogwarts Express combines transport between the two Wizarding Worlds at Universal Orlando—Hogsmeade in the back right of Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley in the back right of Universal Studios (otherwise a really long walk) with some moderately cool visual and aural effects.

Plus with great visual authenticity it mimics Harry’s journeys from London to Hogsmeade and back, causing true Harry Potter fans to swoon.

There’s stations at each of the Wizarding Worlds.

King's Cross Station Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley from yourfirstvisit.net

In Universal Studios, King’s Cross station is just outside Diagon Alley, in the “regular” London area.

Hedwig Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley from yourfirstvisit.net

After your tickets are checked to make sure you have park-to-park privileges, you enter a queue, and are greeted by Hedwig to the platform.

The Hogwarts Express really looks like that in the films…

Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

…both outside…

Corridor Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley from yourfirstvisit.net

…and inside.

Window Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley from yourfirstvisit.net

Your compartment will seat eight. Most—but not all!!—of the action is at the window. The seats closest to and furthest from the window have the worst views, and those in the middle of the compartment the best.

Window Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

Stuff happens in the window…and also elsewhere, so don’t focus solely on the window. No more spoilers—just enjoy the journey!

Hogsmeade Station Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

The Hogsmeade station is darker than King’s Cross…

Hogsmeade Station Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter from yourfirstvisit.net

…and of course different outside.

There’s not a lot of capacity to the Hogwarts Express, so lines can quickly get long. On busy days, you may get a “return later” ticket, or may even be allowed only to take it one way.

My suggestions:

  • Don’t go on a busy day.
  • Stay (even for just a night) in a Universal hotel, so that you get early entry privileges
  • Get in line for the Hogwarts Express as soon as you’ve seen one of the headliners rides and done Ollivander’s.

Here’s the details:

BUILDING HOGWARTS EXPRESS INTO A TOURING PLAN OF THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER

Hogsmeade Station Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

If you go to Universal one of the weeks I recommend, and stay at a Universal hotel, then your day can flow like this:

  1. Be at the turnstiles for whichever park has early open by 45 minutes before early open is expected to start (if both are open early, which will be uncommon my recommended weeks, then pick Universal Studios/Diagon Alley.)
  2. At open, get back to the Wizarding World and ride (depending on which park you are in) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
  3. See the Wand choosing the Wizard at Ollivanders
  4. Get in line for the Hogwarts Express, and ride it to the other park. You’ll get there just about when day guests do. See whichever of Forbidden Journey or Gringotts you missed first thing

Relax, and see all the other wonderful detailing in both Wizarding Worlds.

Note that this assumes only one park is open to Universal hotel guests, and that the Hogwarts Express starts on time.

Window Hogwarts Express Wizarding World of Harry Potter from yourfirstvisit.net

If both parks are open, divide the two headliners over two early mornings (you get early entry on both the day of check-in and day of check-out, and can check in at 7a) but still get in line for the Hogwarts Express as soon as you are out of Ollivanders.

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4 comments

1 Nickey { 03.10.15 at 10:37 am }

Dave, we are interested in going to MGM for Star Wars weekend. Are the crowds typically too unbearable that it won’t be enjoyable? Is most of the crowd action at the Star Wars attractions meaning are the other attractions (i.e. Toy Story Mania) less crowded? We would be traveling with our 6yr old son and don’t want to waste our entire day fighting crowds and standing in line. Is the Friday of the weekend typically the best day to go? Thoughts? Also, we are interested in spending a day @ Universal; is there plenty to do for our son there too?

2 Dave { 03.10.15 at 3:40 pm }

Nickey, it will be pretty miserable. Crowds are best on Sundays except Memorial Day weekend, when Friday is best. For more see my friend Josh’s post here (from 2014, but the basics should be about the same).

There’s not a lot at Universal for a 6 year old…

3 June Alexander { 10.06.15 at 7:12 am }

Hi, our family will be coming to see Harry Potter World & Magic Kingdom in the same week .late October 2016. How long will it take to see all Harry Potter park to park things? One whole day? Should we plan two days for Magic Kingdom or two days for Harry Potter world?

4 Dave { 10.06.15 at 10:40 am }

June, if you are not staying at a Universal Resort (which would give you early entry privileges) it’ll be hard to see everything in a day, because of the waits you will run into. The choice between Harry Potter and the Magic Kingdom depends a bit on how old your kids are–and how huge fans of Harry Potter they are.

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