Potter fans, prepare for the next phase of Harry Potter wonder at Universal Orlando Resort. The Hogwarts Express – a detailed replica of the train that set J.K. Rowling’s beloved characters on the rail to both friendship and adventure – is nearing completion. Soon, guests will be able to ride it for themselves.
Guests entering Hogsmeade will be greeted by the smoke-billowing steam engine of the Hogwarts Express. — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort
“It was always part of the plan,” remembers Dale Mason, vice president and executive art director with Universal Creative.
After the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade opened in 2010, the Universal team knew they wanted to create two of the most magical places in the Potter series, says Mason. Diagon Alley was a natural fit.
“We had to connect them, and there was never any question in our minds how we’d do it. We wanted to allow our guests to take the journey that Harry, Ron and Hermione took on the day they first met – on the Hogwarts Express,” Mason says.
The entire adventure, right from where the Muggle world turns magic, will be part of the fun.
“Just like in the books and films, our guests will pass through the iconic brick wall at King’s Cross Station to find themselves on Platform 9 ¾.”
There, the Hogwarts Express waits, as does the amazing journey through the British countryside to Hogsmeade. How?
“It’s magic! That’s all I’ll tell you,” says Mason.
Fans will be glad to know that Universal Creative's team has worked closely with Warner Bros. and Harry Potter Production Designer Stuart Craig – going to great lengths to create an accurate experience for guests to enjoy. The paint, the materials – even the train’s whistle – are genuine. And to top it off, the Hogwarts Express offers two rides in one.
Hagrid is among the cast of beloved characters Universal guests will encounter on their enchanted journey. — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort
Passengers will have two completely different experiences depending on whether they are traveling to Hogsmeade or London. From the windows, scenes from the books and films unfold: authentic landscapes, memorable events and much-loved characters explode into life.
The journey itself lasts seven minutes.
“We wanted our guests to visit iconic locations in the stories and meet some of the beloved characters like the Weasley twins and Hagrid,” says Mason. “You’ll also encounter creatures like Buckbeak the Hippogriff and even the Dementors.”
Diagon Alley, featured here in a rendering, will be located inside Universal Studios Florida and include a ride based on Gringott's Bank. — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort
Park-to-park admission will be required for guests to ride the Hogwarts Express; the train will connect the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (at Universal’s Islands of Adventure) with new addition Diagon Alley (inside Universal Studios Florida).
All is expected to open this summer. Supreme Potter fans, of course, likely look forward to the double immersion and continued dissection of Universal’s expert recreations.