Hogwarts Express (Universal Orlando Resort)

Hogwarts Express
A funicular railway vehicle disguised as a red-colored steam locomotive pulling into an old-fashioned railroad station building.
A Hogwarts Express train arriving at Hogsmeade station in Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando Resort
AreaThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Coordinates
StatusOperating
Soft opening dateJuly 1, 2014
Opening dateJuly 8, 2014
General statistics
Attraction typeFunicular attraction
ManufacturerDoppelmayr Garaventa Group
DesignerCWA Constructions and Universal Creative
ThemeHogwarts Express (Harry Potter)
MusicLondon Symphony Orchestra
Length676 m (2,218 ft)
Speed12.2 km/h (7.6 mph)
Vehicle typeCable car (railway)
Vehicles
Riders per vehicle168 + 3 attendants[1]
DurationAbout 4:00
Height restrictionNone[2]
Supervising companion required if under 48 inches (120 cm)[3]
No. of TracksSingle (with passing loop)
Track gauge1,800 mm (5 ft 10 78 in)
Universal Express available

The Hogwarts Express is an 1,800 mm (5 ft 10 78 in) broad gauge funicular railway, people mover, and attraction within the Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, United States. The route runs 676 meters (2,218 ft) between Hogsmeade station in the Islands of Adventure theme park and King's Cross station in the London area of the Universal Studios Florida theme park. It provides a connection between the Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade areas which, together, form the Harry Potter-themed Wizarding World area, based on the Harry Potter film series.

The system, which was manufactured by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, is operated with two replicas of the Hogwarts Express. The two directions of travel show two different videos. Because the trains transport guests between stations in two separate theme parks, riders must have an admission pass valid for both theme parks, with ticket inspectors checking prior to boarding.

The Hogwarts Express soft-opened to the public on July 1, 2014, before officially opening seven days later along with the rest of the Diagon Alley expansion. The service was immediately popular and within one month of opening, one million journeys had been made.

History

On the left is a red steam locomotive and three carriages, with steam drifting out above.  On the right passengers queue behind barriers and signs that say "Hogwarts Express" and "Platform 9¾".  Over both of these is a large cylindrical glass and steel roof.
Platform 9¾ at King's Cross station next to Diagon Alley has a large roof based on London King's Cross railway station.

The idea of creating a Hogwarts Express-related element came from Mark Woodbury, the president of Universal Creative.[2][4] After the opening of the Hogsmeade attraction at the Islands of Adventure theme park in 2010, Universal began considering how to keep attendance balanced between the adjacent parks.[5] At first, the creative team considered putting Diagon Alley within Islands of Adventure. Eventually they decided that the London and Hogsmeade environments should not be visible from each other. As a result, Woodbury proposed building Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and then connecting the two Harry Potter-themed lands.[2] Several means of transport were proposed for the connector, before settling on the idea of the Hogwarts Express train.[2][1]

In early 2011, construction surveying was spotted in the Lost Continent section of Islands of Adventure, and the resort had begun surveying visitors about a possible expansion. This led to rumors that Universal Orlando was planning to expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.[6] At the end of the year, the resort announced the Jaws: The Ride would close on January 2, 2012, to make way for a future development.[7] Almost two and a half years later, WESH-TV, the local NBC affiliate for the Orlando/Central Florida area, reported that an elevated track system had been installed at Universal Orlando and that the track ran between Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and a construction area in Universal Studios Florida.[4]

In May 2013, Universal Orlando announced the expansion of Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley, along with the Hogwarts Express train, to be located on the former site of the Jaws attraction.[8][9][10] By the end of August 2013, all six passenger cars and both tenders were ready to be assembled on the track.[11] The first of the two trains was installed on the track on October 24, 2013.[12] The second train was placed on the track in early December 2013.[13] On December 2, 2013, Orlando Attractions Magazine, an amusement park website, spotted one of the trains being tested.[14]

The resort previewed the interior of the Hogwarts Express in January 2014 through a live cast.[15][16] In mid-March 2014, Universal Orlando Resort released further information about the ride, including concept animations.[17] The resort announced in June 2014 that the Diagon Alley expansion, including the Hogwarts Express, would officially open to the public on July 8, 2014.[18] A week later, Universal Orlando soft-opened the Hogwarts Express, without any announcement.[19][20] Within a month of the Hogwarts Express' opening, one million riders had ridden the Hogwarts Express.[21] It had taken approximately two and a half years to develop[22] by a team of 150 people.[1]