A Complete Tour Of The Interior of the Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando

When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure  in 2010, the land was a smash hit in every sense of the word.

Hogsmeade in Universal Orlando

The land was a small hit commercially and critically, and changed theme parks forever in ways that are only becoming clear over a decade later. However, if there was one complaint amongst many Potter fans, it was the fact that the Hogwarts Express — the train that travels between the wizard and muggle worlds — was but a mere photo-op.

That would all change when the second Potter land — Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley — opened at Universal Studios Florida in 2014. That addition introduced a Hogwart’s Express attraction that would allow guests to do something no ride had ever done before: Travel between two theme parks, with screens masking the actual backstage journey, instead of windows on the train. So take the journey with us as we explore everything any rider needs to know about the Hogwarts Express.

Hogwarts Express

Guests begin their journey on the Hogwarts express by boarding at either Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida. At Islands of Adventure, there’s a station outside the land now known as Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, while at Universal Studios Floida, visitors pass through a full replica of London’s King’s Cross Station before “magically” crossing onto Platform 9 3/4 to board.

Both stations require park guests to scan their park tickets prior to entering the queue to ensure they have the necessary two-park passes that allow them to travel between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.

Once guests board the train, which from the outside looks like a screen-accurate version of the Hogwarts Express as seen in the film series, they’re created by a detailed near-scale replica of the vehicle’s interior. Once guests are directed to their train car, they enter to find four individual closed-off seating areas.

Hogwarts Express Cabin

Inside the seating area, riders will come upon a cabin that features two benches sitting across from each other, with upholstery, and luggage racks that all look completely screen-accurate to the Potter film series. One side of the cabin features “windows” — actually screens — and the other features the door that closed behind them as they entered.

Once secured in the cabin, the journey begins. Now, you will see different things depending which way you’re  going, so we’re going to take a look at both routes.

King’s Cross to Hogsmeade

For guests traveling from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade (AKA Universal Studios Florida to Islands of Adventure), the trip begins by seeing images of the outskirts of London flying by, including a cameo from Hedwig the Owl. At the same time, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger “pass by” the cabin — an effect achieved through the use of projections and audio — with the three searching for a snack cart.

The train then “passes” by a rainy Malfoy Manor projected on the screen, before the lights go out and the train passengers are accosted by a Dementor who’s defeated in the nick-of-time by Harry Potter.

Following their rescue from the Dementor, guests will next see Hagrid appear next to the train on his flying motorbike as they approach Hogwarts. Finally, the guests encounter Weasley family’s flying Ford Angila before arriving at the station and disembarking.

Hogwarts Express Entrance

Hogsmeade to King’s Cross

Passengers traveling the opposite route, AKA heading from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios Florida, are first shown images of the train pulling away from Hogsmeade and through the Forbidden Forest while the Harry, Ron, and Hermione projections once again “walk” by the cabin looking for an empty car. Fred and George Weasley fly past the train on the screens, flashing fireworks, before the Hogwarts Express enters a tunnel. When it emerges on the other side, guests encounter Malfoy Manor once again with another storm ranging, this time with Lord Voldemort himself briefly visible.

Look who it is!

The train then enters through another tunnel, with the Harry, Ron, and Hermione projections appearing outside the car once again, this time for a comical bit involving a licorice spider candy. From there, guests see London out the “windows” again, this time whizzing passed the Knight Bus before arriving at King’s Cross Station and being greeted by Alastor Moody.

Thanks for joining us on our tour for the Hogwarts Express! How do you feel about it? Is the screen-accuracy as well as the revolutionary method of park to park transport enough for you to list the experience highly, or do you find it pales in compassion compared to Universal’s other Potter attractions? Let us know in the comments below.

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