Monday, March 8, 2021


Hogwarts Express

If you've read the Harry Potter novels or seen the movies, you must have dreamed of taking a ride for yourself on the Hogwarts Express to get to the fabled school of witchcraft and wizardry that these stories revolve around. My kids were so geeked to be able to ride this steam engine during a visit to the theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort. All aboard for a Harry Potter themed train ride!

Universal Orlando Resort has created a trolley that replicates the Hogwarts Express from J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While it looks like a great big locomotive this is actually an electric powered cable car that transports riders between two of the resort's theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure). Thanks to the magic of special effects though riders are provided with the look and feel of going on a train ride across the English countryside. 

Your ticket to riding the Hogwarts Express is purchasing multi-park passes so you can visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks in Orlando, Florida on the same day. Without the multi-park pass you can visit either Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) or Hogwarts Castle (Islands of Adventure) in the theme park you have passes for but you can't traverse between the two via a Harry Potter train ride. So if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express be prepared to visit both Universal Orlando Resort theme parks in the same day.

You can hop on the train from either King Cross Station or the Hogsmeade Station located in the village at the base of Hogwarts Castle. I recommend starting off in Universal Studios because it provides the most immersive experience to make Harry Potter fans feel as if they are part of the Wizarding World and replicates the pattern of events from the stories. Pay a visit to Diagon Alley to get your school supplies and some delicious snacks. Then disappear into Platform 9 ¾ to catch a ride on the Hogwarts Express.

Harry Potter train ride

A lot of people miss this special effect but you can actually take pictures and videos of walking through a brick wall to catch the train. For those not paying attention it appears you are just walking through a hallway on your way to the train platform. But between markers for Platform 9 and 10 is a nook off to the side of the ride queue line that provides a view of people walking through a brick wall to get to Platform  9 ¾. If you snooze you lose so don't miss out on this magical photo op available at the Kings Cross Station. Remember if you only have time to ride the train once during your visit and depart from Islands of Adventure going to Universal Studios there won't be a chance to have your own Platform  9 ¾ moment.

Here are a few other interesting tidbits about the Kings Cross Station at Universal Studios theme park in Orlando. Pre-pandemic there would be street musicians entertaining folks in the queue lines just like you might come across in a real London train station. Hopefully they will return when things get back to normal. Plus the train schedule posted at Kings Cross Station with actual scheduled travel routes taking place that day in England. Oh and keep an eye out for an animatronic Hedwig while waiting to board the train to Hogwarts.

hogwarts express secrets
secrets of hogwarts express

Once you are on the Hogwarts Express you can look at the window to view a fantasy landscape go by. The windows are actually video screens that make it seem as if you are a part of a Harry Potter story. Pulling out from the urban train station Hedwig the Owl soars down to fly next to the train as it rumbles through neighborhoods of London townhouses. 

As the owl flies off, Dementors begin chasing the train for a scary experience. Passengers dodge them though as the train goes through a tunnel. Then comes some comic relief when Arthur Weasley’s car, the Flying Ford Anglia, crashes in front of your eyes. Finally Hagrid zooms in on his motorbike to escort you into the train station as you are provided a view of Hogwarts Castle in the distance. Exit the train for fun experiences at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry including what has become my favorite ride at these theme parks Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure roller coaster.

harry potter train ride
harry potter train ride

Guess what?! If you head back on the train to Kings Cross Station there is different imagery to take in through your passenger cabin windows. As you depart Hogsmeade Station, Hagrid is on the platform waving goodbye and then Buckbeak flies by the train.  The Weasley twins escort you for awhile and provide a fireworks show. Then the Knight Bus whizzes about the train to guide you into the London station. 

Don't just look out the windows during the entire ride though. Because if you look at the door to your train compartment during your trip it is likely you will see the shadows of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they walk by. Listen closely and you can even eavesdrop on their conversation. Harry Potter fans are sure to appreciate this close encounter with these characters as if they were really right next to you.


Yes it cost some extra money to take a Harry Potter train ride but the smiles and sounds of delight from my children made it absolutely worthwhile. They were ecstatic about our Hogwarts Express experience. It really made them feel like they were part of the Wizarding World as they sat with their wands out ready to ward off any Dementors or Death Eaters that might slip onto the train. If you have friends or family who are big Harry Potter fans like my kids are they will be geeked to take part in this train ride.

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