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Universal Orlando installs Hogwarts Express trains

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Published: October 24, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Universal Orlando today installed the Hogwarts Express train on its track.

Hogwarts Express
Photo courtesy Universal Orlando

The Hogwarts Express attraction will run between Universal's two Wizarding World of the Harry Potter lands, the original Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and the new Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, which will open in June or July of next year.

Hogwarts Express
Photo courtesy Universal Orlando

Video screens make to look like windows will give passengers the illusion of steaming through the English and Scottish countrysides as they ride between Kings Cross station in London (in USF) and the wizarding village of Hogsmeade (in IOA). Most of the ride will happen "backstage" between the two theme parks, so the lack of real windows also will prevent riders from seeing those "back of house" support facilities between the parks.

Readers' Opinions

From Paul Moreau on October 24, 2013 at 3:18 PM
I cannot wait to see how this will turn out.
From 190.192.134.64 on October 24, 2013 at 3:52 PM
Wouuuuu!!!!!
From N B on October 24, 2013 at 4:50 PM
Wow..... already plotting to book our vacation...
From 98.85.131.87 on October 24, 2013 at 7:14 PM
I wish Universal would let us look at the bleak back of the house areas and fences like the much more MAGICAL Animal Kingdom petting farm train at Disney.
From Tracy Bates on October 24, 2013 at 9:02 PM
That's funny. I was in the park tonight for HHN and was like "Hey! The Hogwarts Express train is on the tracks!" You can only see if from the exit lines for the Haunted Houses, for those live nearby and who want to go by and look at it.
From Annette Forrest on October 24, 2013 at 11:22 PM
I hope they sell chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts for munching on the train, like in the movie. I want to feel like I am really going to Hogwarts!
From David Brown on October 25, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Big kudos to Universal for pushing the boundaries and creating an attraction out of what is basically a shuttle tram. Very clever and no doubt it's going to be very well done.

One question keeps haunting me though.

The trains will shuttle back and forth along the track so obviously that means in one direction the train will have to reverse with the loco pushing the coaches backwards. The carriages won't have windows so the passengers won't see it happening from inside the train, but when they board it it's going to be pretty obvious the loco is at the wrong end...

How are Universal going to get round that problem?

Or is that just too geeky? :)

From tom cunningham on October 25, 2013 at 6:40 AM
Hi David

I dont think the seats will be a problem if you have seen the movies the guests are seated facing each other so one set of passengers will always travel backwards.

From Jacob Sundstrom on October 25, 2013 at 7:44 AM
@David That's actually a good question. My guess is that the track will be one big loop to avoid that problem. There could also be a turntable at each end of the track if it's truly a one-track train.

@Tom I think he means that it will be "bad show" to guests from the outside seeing the train travel backwards.

From David Brown on October 25, 2013 at 8:40 AM
@ Tom:
my question was not so much geared at when guests were inside the train as they won't be able to see even which way they are travelling from inside but more how it will work when they get out. Presumably the trains will arrive at a station platform but if the engine is parked up at the buffers when you are ready to depart it's going to be pretty obvious that it isn't going to be going forwards....

@Jacob:
We know the track isn't a loop as we saw pictures of it before they built the stations - it's just straight track that comes to and end - no turntable and no loop.

In terms of capacity there has to be a very fast turn around so there's no time for anything other than shuttle into the platform and shuttle out again. It's possible some guests wont' notice and if they do they won't care. I'm just intrigued as to whether Universal will have some clever wheeze to explain the engine being at the wrong end of the coaches...

From O T on October 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM
From what I have heard it's all done really clever.
When you enter the station in London (the huge covered one) you will see the train incl the locomotive standing ready to leave for Hogwart. Both train face that direction.

When you arrive at IOA the locomotive will slide into the long narrow part under the coasters and the last wagon does snug fit partially in the tunnel. When guest leaves and walk into hogmed they magically see the front of the train.
When the train leaves from ioa the station will be empty so no one will see the train going backwards.

Of course there will probably always be spots where you can see the train drive backwards (or forwards) from the parks as you also can see the flat back of the Yeti mountain in AK, The ride building for Splash mountain etc. As always in theme park you have to suspense some disbelieve and enjoy the fun.

From Anon Mouse on October 25, 2013 at 9:28 AM
If you're the spectator looking for the train from outside the station, you can see the train going backwards when returning to London. Did they block the view of the train tracks from IOA and US?
From Eric G on October 25, 2013 at 11:01 PM
So are you telling me this is a one-way journey? Universal to Islands of Adventure and no reverse.

That train is going to look so odd from Dragon Challenge. It certainly isn't going to be traveling through the English countryside unless the backstage support areas is Universal's definition of countryside.

From Melissa Donahue on October 26, 2013 at 9:34 AM
Knowing Universal's attention to detail and the fact that JK Rowling was undoubtedly involved in the decision-making process once again, I would be willing to bet that the absurdity of seeing the locomotive moving backwards will not even be an issue. I'm confident that Universal has thought through these complications... Probably the use of fake facades or covered panels will give the desired illusion to guests outside of the train itself. At least... This is what I'm hoping for.
From 98.85.131.87 on October 26, 2013 at 7:47 PM
Seeing a train go backwards is no big deal it is a magic train. Magic Kingdom did it for over a year while Splash was being built.

At Epcot you can see the Swan and Dolphin, at Magic Kingdom you can see Bay Lake Tower, at Hollywood its all a "hot set" with little theme, and at Animal Kingdom on your way in you can see a giant half mountain building and a fake pine tree cell phone tower.

Regular guests are not going to care. I'm impressed that Universal took the extra step of dressing up the outside of the simulator cars for a backstage ride.

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