The Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Details revealed!

Back in January, during the Celebration of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, Harry Potter fans were promised more information “soon” regarding the Diagon Alley expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Tonight, MuggleNet was present in New York City with Tom Schroder, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Universal, and Michael DoQui, Senior Show Producer at Universal Creative, plus Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), as new information about the Hogwarts Express was revealed.

First off, like all of the locations in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Express is going to be a very authentic, immersive journey. A team, in an effort to be sure that the details were replicated as closely as possible, traveled to the UK and rode on trains and worked very closely with the Warner Bros. creative team from the films. Everything will be exactly as you see it in the films, from the fabric used on the cushions, to the curtains, and even the individual cabins off the main hallway. Speaking of cabins… we weren’t told how many passengers would fit in each cabin, but there are approximately 200 seats per train, each of which has three cars. We also found out that the journey will be approximately seven minutes long! How fitting – the most magical number for a very magical journey.

The seven-minute “ride experiences are unique to both destinations. They’re not seasonal, although there are environmental changes that you see, as well as characters.” The scripts and copy for each has been personally approved by Jo, who has been “a guiding force and an influence throughout the whole process.”

So what exactly will riders see while on the train? There will be several scenes on each journey as well as “more sensory and physical effects that draw you into the story experience.” Your favorite characters will be seen as well, from Hagrid, to Buckbeak, and even the Weasley twins. Oliver & James even filmed bits for the journey, complete with ginger wigs.

The Hogwarts Express journey will not be like anything created before at Universal. When asked if it compared to the King Kong Experience, DoQui replied, “No. This is very unique technology. Imagine looking out a window and being able to look to the edges of the window, up and down, and get all of that story information. This is unique to each cabin – they’re getting the same journey and story experience but from the point of view of looking out the actual window and getting that actual detail.”

From the official press release:

“One of the most memorable and exciting experiences from the Harry Potter series will come to life at Universal Orlando Resort this summer. Imagine:

  • Being transported from the Muggle world to the wizarding world as you pass through the brick wall at King’s Cross station to arrive at Platform 9 3⁄4
  • Watching in amazement as the Hogwarts Express pulls into the station – its billowing steam and authentic whistle beckoning you to hop aboard
  • Sitting in one of the train’s cabins with your family and friends and actually riding the Hogwarts Express – just as your favorite characters did in the Harry Potter films
  • Looking outside your cabin window and enjoying a scenic, breathtaking journey through the British countryside as you encounter magical creatures, some of your favorite Harry Potter characters…and even Dementors…

“Since the very first Harry Potter film, every fan has dreamed of taking the same classic journey Harry Potter did aboard the Hogwarts Express. And this summer – they will get to live it.

“Today, Universal Orlando revealed never-before-released details about the Hogwarts Express experience that will debut as part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – the all-new, magnificently themed land opening this summer. The train will connect the new land in Universal Studios Florida with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure – allowing guests with park-to-park admission to enjoy a real journey aboard the iconic locomotive.

“Never before has this been done – creating an actual train ride experience to connect two spectacularly themed environments. The Hogwarts Express experience combines powerful storytelling, live special effects, lifelike animation and state-of-the-art technology to take riders on the journey of a lifetime. Guests will enjoy two completely different experiences depending on whether they’re traveling to Hogsmeade or London.

“Once seated in the cabin, guests will be able to look out their windows as an incredibly authentic and magical adventure unfolds before them. They’ll see Hagrid come alongside the train on his flying motorbike, Buckbeak the hippogriff swoop gracefully over the Black Lake, the Weasley twins on brooms and up to their usual antics, the Knight Bus swerving through London traffic – and other special moments and surprises.

“Universal’s creative team has been working closely with Warner Bros., Stuart Craig and the production team from the Harry Potter films to create a sensational Hogwarts Express experience that the entire family can enjoy. The creative team has gone to great lengths to ensure the experience is true to the books and films. Everything about the train is authentic – from the paint and the materials used to build it….all the way down to the whistle.”

Still no official word as to when the expansion will open.

Are you excited to ride the Hogwarts Express? Any thoughts on how the “immersive experience” will work? Tell us what you’re most looking forward to in the comments below!