Universal Orlando Resort teased a bit more about its Hogwarts Express ride that will connect the two Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands at the resort — the existing Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and the upcoming Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
We've profiled the Hogwarts Express on "The Road to Diagon Alley" before, and now Universal's offering its own description of the adventure visitors with Park-to-Park tickets will experience on the train.
To board the Hogwarts™ Express at King's Cross Station, you'll walk straight through a solid brick wall onto Platform 9 ¾™ where a Hogwarts™ Prefect will be waiting to lead you to your passenger compartment.
As you wind your way through the British countryside, keep watch outside your window. You never know who — or what — you might see flying, swooping or lurking just outside the train. You might encounter an adventure or two along the way as well, before alighting at Hogsmeade™ Station in Islands of Adventure.
Visitors also will be able to board the Express at a new Hogsmeade station for the trip over to Diagon Alley in USF.
Only one alarm bell rang for me. TPR said the following: "The Hogwarts Express will pull into the station billowing steam and smoke, before welcoming guests aboard. The train itself sits about 200 guests at a time, and is made to the exact size of the cabins and hallways of the train in the movies. The paint, materials, and even the whistle are all movie accurate". The trains have got to shuttle each way, allow time for guests to de-train and board, plus travel slowly enough for there to be time for the adventure to happen. That suggests that we aren't going to see departures any more regularly than every ten minutes or so giving an hourly capacity of 1200. Is that going to be enough to satisfy the demand?
There is a famous cliche that states a sucker is born every minute, and Universal is aggressively testing that cliche with this nefarious, price-gouging scheme.
I honestly think Universal is counting on folks not being smart enough or patient enough to do the math. Imagine a sign at a grocery store announcing: "Apples - three for a quarter, or a nickle a piece." How many folks buy three apples thinking they are getting a good deal?
So it's an expensive ticket for just a train ride, yeah, but it's not just a train ride. It includes an additional section of the Wizarding World.
I also see James's point of view that he would never buy a park to park ticket because they spend all day in one park and could save money not buying park to park tickets. But look at it this way James, a 2 day base ticket to Disney is $188 and a 2 day park to park ticket to Universal is $177. So if you were going to go 2 days to Disney and Universal then Universal is still cheaper than Disney even having to buy the park to park tickets.
And the logistics argument...heck, Universal has some brilliant folks and they need to figure that stuff out. How hard can it be to have a round trip ride? And who wouldn't want that extra leg of the trip for a little more immersion?
As for all the comments about Disney pricing vs Universal pricing, the fact is that people would be livid if Disney pulled an up-charge stunt like Universal is doing with their new train ride. However, because it is Universal we seem to want to cut them some slack. We have such a double standard some times just cause Universal was down and out for so many years and is finally emerging as a solid number two option. If Universal wants to play with the Big Boy, then Universal needs to be held just as accountable for their questionable actions.
They are a business and their goal is to extract funds from your wallet. This will do just that. :)
I wonder if Robert can clarify this and share with us anything he knows about what Potter would have been like if Disney got it.
To me, Disney would have just built one ride, not a whole land. I bet they would have built a simulator like Star Tours, but themed to Potter. Maybe put it where Be Our Guest is now and Mermaid is, on what was the 20k lagoon. I bet they would not have built Hogwarts and instead would have just had that in the Star Tours-style ride. I bet the outside of the show building would have just been London facades, maybe a Leaky Cauldron restaurant and then the entrance to the ride. That's it. Very minimal.
It was best for everyone (even Disney) that Universal got to build Potter.
You do realize that Hogsmeade has one new ride (a moving simulator), one new show, one new counter service restaurant, and a few cramped shops, right? And that Diagon Alley has one new ride (a family coaster), one conveyer attraction, one new restaurant, a copy of the show at Hogsmeade, and shops.
"Minimal" doesn't matter if it is done right. Right?
@Anon Poster 22.214.171.124, Not my wallet, pal. No train ride is worth $40. Unless it is Amtrak and it is taking me to Orlando.
But I do agree with most folks.... Universal would be dead in the water without HP, so I am glad they got the shot in the arm they needed. Now Universal is doing well, and Disney continues to roll, so out of the deal, we as fans get the best of both worlds: two great themed entertainment destinations (although, as a long time fan of Universal I think their Orlando parks have been pretty solid since about 2004, long before the boy wizard came to town).
Sadly, despite Universal's success of late, they are still a greedy corporation and won't hesitate to gouge fans with a $40 up-charge to ride a train.
But even having said that the vast majority of visitors to either Universal or Disney are visiting as part of or as the whole point of a vacation. If my wife and I travel from the UK we spend two weeks and buy the best value advance multi-park tickets which all have park-hopper facilities anyway. I suspect the number of guests that will NOT have park hopper tickets is a very small percentage and so this is not so much a question of Universal charging you $40 to ride one attraction as them offering a unique and amazing way to move from park to park for free, (it's in effect a posh version of Disney's monorail or transportation buses).
And incidentally, one does not need a park ticket to ride Disney's monorail or bus services. Furthermore, if your idea of "posh" is a short ride on a large, slow moving vehicle with video screens instead of windows, I have a ten year old Toyota Sienna with leather seats, tinted windows, and a DVD player that might be of interest to you. No fair offer will be refused. If I sell my van I might be able to afford the ridiculous up-charge on Universal's posh train ride. ;)
The second reason is logistics. It would be a nightmare letting people with only a single park ticket ride the train. Which by all understanding from the technology, design, movie tie-in, and hype the train is going to be an E ticket attraction. The wait for this attraction is going to be off the charts and you said why can't they just let you ride it twice with only buying a single ticket? Wait time would be longer by you robbing that seat from someone who purchased a multi park ticket essentially making the single park ticket better than a multi park ticket. Lets say UO would not do that but make you wait in another line to go back on the ride. How would they see who is one park and multi park ticket holders? OI would have to fence off whole areas for single park riders with restroom facilities because waiting for an hour getting on a train and then waiting for another hour to get back on the train to ride it again because that's your only option because you bought a one park ticket and no one is going to let you go into a second park for free.
That leads into the third point amusement parks are a business. You don't really believe that parks building multi million dollar expansions just for everyone's pleasure? Universal is a business, Disney is a business, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Sea World, Busch Gardens are all businesses that are trying their hardest for you to buy their tickets, merchandise, and food. Is food more expensive at a theme park than in your local sit down restaurant?.....You bet it is. Is the admittance at a theme park more than a metro park? Ah yeah seeing how the metro parks around here where I reside are free. Is the entertainment cost more at or near a theme park than my local karaoke bar? You know by golly it does. It's because corporations found out investing in something that meets or exceeds expectations in anything demands a higher price and people will pay it. Yes sure I could ride the swing set at my local metro park but I'm not going to get the same reaction, thrill, eye candy effect as I do riding the Spider-Man ride at IOA.
You are an economy person in that you like to get everything out of your dollar and I think nothing is wrong with that. Most things though you are going to not be able to have your cake and eat it too and this is one of them. You'll have to pay that extra money to ride the train whether you like it or not because popular demand dictates that they will pay it. Proof is in how long the wait will be this summer in multi park pass holders. A few people can see your point but even fewer will agree with you on this argument because everything I said dictates the contrary.
As for your other comments, I never compared Disney's park hopping to Universal's except to say that Disney does not force you to purchase a hopper to ride any of their attractions. And the fact that WDW is significantly larger than Universal Orlando is a moot point.
Your "logistics" argument does not sit well with me because (as I wrote before) Universal has a lot of smart folks who can figure this stuff out - if they want to please ALL their customers. "Logistics" is a fancy way of saying, "I don't want to do it because it's too hard!" Something I hear quite a bit as a father of three kids who whine incessantly when asked to do their chores.
Obviously I agree with your comment that Universal is a business and this tactic is an obvious money grab. However, the popularity of the train ride is yet to be determined. If there are enough people unwilling to frivolously toss their cash into Universal's up-charge coffers, the park hopper requirement will change quickly.
And lastly, as long as I don't blow $200 on a train ride, I will have plenty of money left over to both buy and eat loads of cake. Perhaps that is what I will do while the frivolous masses spend $10 a minute for a train ride.
I should note, Apple, that if you have money to burn I will gladly accept a donation of $200 so my impoverished family can ride the train too.
Also, Universal will get my $200, make no mistake, I would just rather spend it on something other than a train ride.
Appreciate your insight as always, sir!
No one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to ride it or pay the additional fee. It is a choice, plain and simple. Do you honestly think Universal didn't plan this to entice people to make it a destination vacation vs a one day visit?
Who goes to Disney World and just visits the MK?
Also, I have not written the same thing 50 different ways, I have been consistent in every post to the point of redundancy. The horse is dead, but some folks are so blinded by their "Universal Can Do No Wrong" attitude that they can't move on.
And while Universal is not pointing a gun to my head, they definitely have set their sights squarely and, to use your word, unfairly on my wallet.
it may be different in the UK but when we visit Florida we buy the 5 Park Universal/Seaworld/Busch Gardens/Wet and Wild Ticket. It gives us 14 consecutive days access to al 5 parks, including park hopper facilities. 18 months ago it was around £235 per person.
My maths ain't that bad mate...... :)
The Flex ticket sounds like a good deal for your length of stay. Enjoy. And Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens looks like it will be a real winner. Good thing you don't have to pay a $40 up-charge to ride it!
Yep, if you choose to buy only one day tickets you will pay through the nose, but as has been pointed out there are other options that most people seem happy to take.
Ultimately you have to make your own choice. I am sure your kids will understand your noble stance and be totally cool about it..... ;)
And my stance isn't noble, just fiscally responsible. I gotta fund the Disney part of the vacation too... and that ain't cheap either, bro!
As for paying through the nose in purchasing one day tickets, I buy MULTI-DAY, one park tickets, and they are only expensive when you make them two park tickets. Without the park hopper option, I get the cheapest ticket possible!
I often find that having the option to park hop changes the sort of choices you make in a day. You may not need them. Then again you might find that if you traded up you'd find all sorts of other benefits, in addition to the $40 dollar train ride, that you and your family would enjoy and that therefore change the perceived value of that higher expense.
I guess we'll never know!
If Universal wants to charge Disney prices then they need to add at least two more parks and another water park. And about 20 more hotels. But I am game if they are!
Bed time. Later, Brent!
Do you sound happy? Actually yes you do. Your posts have gone way beyond merely stating something you don't like and have become almost Karmic in their dogged refusal to accept that the rest of us are not that wound up by this...You have stated many many times that you do not wish to buy park hopper tickets because this is not what you have traditionally done and therefore will not ride the Express. You have also stated that your kids don't care for Harry Potter so what's the big deal?
As I say,the rest of us will just get on and buy park hoppers because we find the benefits of so doing well worth the extra. I too wouldn't buy it 'just' to ride one attraction, but since we have never found either Universal Park to be a full day park out of season, which is when we visit, we wouldn't consider buying anything other than park hopper tickets.
We all get that you don't like it. We just wish that you'd accept that most of the rest of us are quite content...
In case it needs stating again this attraction is not located within a single park. It starts in one park and ends in another park. Why on earth would anyone ever consider that you wouldn't need tickets for both parks to ride it? It's not an 'up charge'. Surely it's just basic common sense? :)
Now from your perspective, and the perspective of many others who are used to paying the up-charge related to park to park touring, this requirement is no big deal. I get that you are not "wound up" and I am not trying in any way to change your touring habits. You do what is best for you. However, for the segment of the population that already viewed Universal Orlando as a mutli day destination with enough experiences in either park to occupy a full day of exploration, this $40 up-charge is a completely unnecessary expense that does NOT fit into their touring habits. As one anonymous poster already noted in this thread, he or she will go ahead and pay the up-charge to ride the train on one visit, and then never again. Is that what Universal wants? If so, their business model is flawed for the long term.
Again, it is your choice to do what you will, but I am extremely unhappy about this decision by Universal, because it is a decision that specifically targets my vacation budget for $200 ($40 X 5 people). And it is a decision I believe Universal did not have to make. Ultimately, a few years from now when the Harry Potter junkies go back to their own wizarding world basements, and back to their LARPing conventions, and defense against the dark arts training, when the crowds have died down sufficiently and the train is mostly empty even on busy days, you will find that Universal will make changes to their policy. And suddenly, the round trip ride on the Hogwarts Express that folks are saying is a logistical nightmare, will become a day to day reality. I am patient and I can wait them out. But I am definitely NOT happy about having to wait.
In the meantime, I will continue to express my disappointment about this horrid (yes, HORRID) decision in every thread in which folks want to speak glowingly about a $40 up-charge attraction.
And don't worry, I have expressed my disappointment directly to Universal as well. Customer feedback is what drives companies like Universal and Disney, and it won't take many folks who feel the same way as I do to get Universal to make a change. That ground swell of support is not coming from folks in this discussion, but there are other fiscally responsible, budget minded people out there like me, and eventually the dam will break.
As for my kids and their general disinterest of Harry Potter, they are not the ones paying for the vacation - I am. And while the HP movies are among my least favorite book-to-movie translations, I found the novels to be extremely entertaining. And as a fan of those novels (and, I confess, an adult who reads kids books, as my kids put it), why wouldn't I want to experience a round trip ride on the Hogwarts Express as part of my Universal visit?
So it is with great misgiving that I take my stance. And while it is unpopular among annual pass holders, flex pass buyers, many of the folks on this site, and Universal groupies, that extra $200 in my pocket will come in real handy when one of my kids asks for a photo with Spider-Man, or another round of dessert sushi at Mythos, or when I am paying the $18 per night self parking fee at the Royal Pacific. $200 may not seem like a lot of dough to people with large disposable incomes, but to me, it is a few days of incidentals that help make a theme park visit a success that fits within my vacation budget. And that success is much more valuable to me than a train ride.
Still, it stinks I have to make this decision. And as a long time fan and defender of Universal Orlando, I am not happy about it, to be sure.
Are we at the 'Nuff Said point of this discussion yet? N B would say we are long past it. And I would tend to agree. Enjoy the day, fellow Theme Park Insiders, I'll catch you in another discussion thread!
But, I have to say, because of the Hogwart's Express my family will never NOT buy a parkhopper at Universal. They got us, hook line and sinker. Before Harry Potter, I would have probably not even taken free tickets to Universal because those parks were, in my eyes, a waste of a day in Orlando. But Harry Potter is worth a day over at Universal, for sure. It just wasn't a full day with only Hogsmeade. My family would go, and have a wonderful time all morning and into maybe 3 or 4 in the afternoon...and then we'd have enough Potter and maybe go over to Jurassic Park for a minute...and then go back to the hotel and crash.
Now, when Diagon Alley opens, I see us spending a whole day going back and forth a few times on the train. I see us getting there at rope drop and staying until close, easily.
I kind of see Universal getting the following spending increases from my family because of Diagon Alley/Hogwarts Express:
* We will be buying the parkhopper (so that's 4 of us, now spending around an extra $160 on tickets for the day)
* Instead of having dinner back at the hotel or downtown Disney, we will be staying all day in the Potter areas and eating dinner there too. That's probably another $100 right there that we never spent in the Universal parks before.
* No doubt, if it's true all the unique merchandise they are going to sell, I better budget to spend something on souvenirs in Diagon Alley. I have to say that we have not bought much more than magnets and pencils/erasers at Disney parks in years just because the items for sale seemed so generic and junky. Conservatively, I think we might be spending $100 on souvenirs at Diagon Alley.
* Butterbeer and other snacks, especially if they have the candies and things for the train. I bet we'll spend $60 on snacks.
So, I bet that this addition to Universal is going to get somewhere between $400 and $500 more out of my family than we would have spent otherwise there. At least for the first time we do it, as I just know we are going to want to do everything and go wild.
I am not a big spender, so this will be a big splurge for us. I can't even remember the last time I splurged like this at Disney. The only thing they have there now that I will splurge on will be Be Our Guest for dinner. I really want to do that. But I don't see any souvenirs we would want and I don't see anything they've built making us stay longer than we would have otherwise, but MK was always a full day for us, as with all the other Disney parks.
Universal really needed to build this addition to create a full day experience for people like my family, who weren't much interested in Universal before.
James has been saying that Universal is charging "$40 for a train ride" because he's choosing not to see anything beyond the train that's connecting the two parks.
To me, that's like saying that Disney charges $40 for the monorail ride between MK and EPCOT or $40 for the boat ride between DHS and EPCOT.
In reality, the $40 extra is to go into both parks...and the Hogwarts Express is just a really, really plussed "monorail" or "bus" or whatever you want to call it as a mode of transportation to get you into the other park.
If the train was not there, James would be complaining there was no train, and that he'd have to buy a parkhopper to visit both sets of Potter attractions in two different parks.
So, the complaint would be that Universal was "greedy" by building Potter attractions in two different parks, instead of one, so he either had to go to two parks over two days or buy a one day parkhopper.
If Universal built all the attractions in one park, James would complain that Universal made things lopsided and should have spread the attractions over two different parks. For balance.
So, James seems to be someone who will find a complaint no matter what, just because there is a lot of attention that comes with complaining.
I have two little boys, and I can anticipate when they do things like this. James reminds me of my younger son (aged 7). He has a very "James" take on life that I hope he grows out of.
Thank you for giving me one more reason to avoid Hogwarts Express: you might be on it.
But I am way more mature than a seven year old! Gosh, I gotta be like 13 or 14 at least! Jeez....
Secondly, and more on topic, the hogwarts express. While James I do see your points, the park to park tickets are for much more than just that. Beyond being able to enjoy both parks in the same day(for te same reason I said to anette), this allows guests to get the authentic Harry potter experience, shopping in diagon, then taking the express to hogsmeade and seeing the castle. You said that you read and enjoyed the Harry potter books, universal is bringing that experience to life, so the value added in the extra 40 bucks IMO surpasses just the additional train ride. Then again, I also like several other attractions in both the studios and ioa.
The final reasoning is that at the end of the day it's a business, and people will be chomping at the bit to get on this train, so the extra 40 dollars will add up quickly for comcast. At that point I can't really blame them. It isn't like they have eliminated the base ticket option, they are just enticing you to spend more. Business 101.
Anon poster 126.96.36.199 You get it too, and I totally understand your point. However, I do not see the $40 value add of actually getting off the train in a different park. Riding the train does indeed add value to my park ticket, but I could take a round trip and be quite satisfied with the experience. Maybe even more satisfied since I get the longer ride and the more complete experience. And I do understand Comcast wants to make money. There's nothing wrong with them wanting to make money. And they will get my $40 one way or another. I would just rather they get it in a way that does not single out the non-park hopping crowd.
And to no one in particular:
On the other hand, I hear the Elmer's Glue-All folks want their dead horse back.
I'm not asking for the source to be revealed, but what makes Robert's source more credible from all the other "insider" sources? I apologize if I sound rude, not intended. The majority of the Orlando based sites(Orlando Informer, Orlando United and others) are saying the Diagon Alley opening seems to be pushed back to July/August. Don't get me wrong, I want May softs! Sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.
Thanks in advance for any additional info.
But from a marketing standpoint, you have to admit that splitting up the WWOHP between two parks and turning the transportation that connects the two parks into an actual ride is bloody brilliant. Especially given Universal's limited space, dividing up WWOHP between parks results in higher revenues and more guest distribution. And as crazy as the crowds are going to be for the first few years, a more evenly distributed crowd is reason enough for me to shell out those additional bucks.
But if you want to talk about being really inconvenienced, having to pay for airplane tickets for my entire family is way more costly that the additional price bump for park to park tickets. So unfair! Why doesn't Universal build a WWOHP in all the states to appease all its customers?! (I can dream, can't I?) But actually, the guys who should be really mad are the Brits. They have to cross the pond to visit the fantasy world dreamt up by one of their own. (At least you chaps have the WB studio tour.)
You do make a great point about crowd dispersal, anon poster 188.8.131.52, one I had not previously realized. While all the Potter lovers and park-to-park ticket conformers are taking "multiple opportunities" to ride HE, thereby "guaranteeing an immersive experience" (and justifying their up-charge), the lines for the Forbidden Journey and the Gringott's family coaster will be less by about 2,000 people an hour!!! I won't have to wait as long for the really good stuff! Not buying a park hopper will make my day so much more relaxing and enjoyable, and I'll still have money in my pocket to spend on things like Butterbeer and Spider-Man T-shirts!!! Wow, there is a silver lining to this debacle!!!
@anon poster 184.108.40.206, I have no idea about Robert's sources. However, when it comes to theme park "secrets", he is right far more often than he is wrong.
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