As almost life-long residents of the American Southeast we were never farther than a 9-hour drive to Orlando, Florida. Translation: we went to Disney World and Universal Studios a lot. Considering the amount of time we would visit these parks and the hefty cost of such a trip, there’s one thing we had never actually done: a park hopper pass for Universal Studios to ride the Hogwarts Express between Harry Potter parks. Each park hopper pass is an extra $50 per person, and it’s the only way a guest can ride the Hogwarts Express between parks. We were there frequently enough to do a single park on different days, so we weren’t sure the Universal Studios Hogwarts Express is worth it just for a train ride.
Well, call me a Dumbridge Muggle because I didn’t get it. But now I do. I promise.
Yes, essentially it is just a train ride. But it’s a really freakin’ cool train ride- especially if you’ve ever even heard of Harry Potter!
Here’s Why the Universal Studios Hogwarts Express is Worth It:
1. Get Away From the Harry Potter Crowds
My #1 reason why any Universal Studios Harry Potter park may not be worth it is the crowds. Potterheads be everywhere! Unfortunately, I get it. I loved Harry Potter (I even took a college course on Harry Potter, as taught by none else than my mother). I love being immersed in his world. The unfortunate part is not being a nerd, it’s the fact that each Harry Potter park is so incredibly crowded you can hardly see your hand in front of you, much less that super cool dragon on top of Gringott’s.
The entrance to the Universal Studios Hogwarts Express is a crowded mess, but once you pass the ticket counter you’re shown in to the train station in neat lines. Ahhhhhhh, order. The fact is that only a percentage of Harry Potter goers have the park hopper pass, so it’s bound to be the one attraction that’s less crowded than any other in either Harry Potter park.
2. Get Immersed in Harry Potter
This should go without saying, but I don’t know you so I’ll go ahead and say it: the Hogwarts Express waiting area and train ride really make you feel like you’re on your way to the famous wizarding school!
The details of each side of the train station are exact matches to those shown in the movie, including signs for Platform 9 3/4, suitcase carts, the decor of each train stall, and real life cloaked train conductors showing you the way!
To bring your childhood hero’s world to life is probably what brought you to Universal Studios to begin with, so you may as well pay up to make the experience even more mind blowing.
3. Once-in-a-lifetime Harry Potter Experiences
Your fandom can really shine as you appear to actually walk through the wall between platforms 9 & 10, thanks to a little-known muggle magic called reflecting glass and lights.
You’ll see Hedgwig all set in her cage, ready to follow Harry to Hogwarts, carefully eyeing and hooting at the other passengers.
While on the train you’ll come ear-to-ear with our 3 heroes, and shadow-to-shadow with some hungry dementors.
4. It’s a Really Cool Ride
Let’s pretend you’re not a die-hard Potterhead. That’s cool! Harry Potter taught us all to be a little more accepting of the filth– I mean, super cool Muggles! When it comes to the Universal Studios Hogwarts Express, the fact is it’s just a really cool ride. And that’s probably the other reason you came to Universal!
You’ll ride on a real train with amazing special effects playing all around you the entire time.
Universal Studios attractions are all about making the guest feel like they are part of the Hollywood movie experience, and, whether or not you’re familiar with the nuances of the Potterverse, the Hogwarts Express definitely delivers. State-of-the-art effects marry old school technology to make this an unforgettable experience for anyone!
5. Access Both Parks
Another that should probably go without saying, but, again, I don’t know you.
Depending on who you ask, the best feature of upgrading to the Universal Studios Hogwarts Express is being able to access both parks. And not just access them, but to sit down and take a really cool ride between them instead of walking back and forth like a chump.
To any Potterhead or theme park fan, this reason is enough to splurge for the upgrade. The fact is, each Universal Park is not quite enough on it’s own. The parks just aren’t as big or as full as Disney. They just aren’t. Each is really fun, but you’ll probably feel done by early dinner time. Getting the park hopper pass means one really full, really amazing day of experiencing the best from both parks and riding the Hogwarts Express to get between them.
Yes, it’s also one expensive day, but probably a better overall experience and cheaper than 2 individual park tickets to visit each park on different days.
Not sure if the Universal Studios Hogwarts Express is worth it? See for yourself!