I remember the first time I looked at buying a Universal Studios Orlando ticket, confused by the different park options I didn’t know whether riding the Hogwarts Express would be a priority during our trip.
If you’re not a Harry Potter fan then the additional $60 of a park-to-park ticket (required to ride the Hogwarts Express) and the amount of time you’ll likely spend queuing (standby queues are often between 40 minutes and 60 minutes) won’t be worth it.
An while, we’re not huge Harry Potter fans, both Helen and I have read all the books and watched all the films more than once over the past ten years or so. We did appreciate the Hogwarts Express, however, it was easy to see why this additional cost and the additional time inline might not be worth it.
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How Much Does It Cost To Ride The Hogwarts Express?
While the Hogwarts Express ride is free you need a Universal Studios Resort park to park ticket to go on the ride as it takes you from one park to the other (either Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios or Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure).
The exact cost of a park to park ticket is roughly $60 per day, although this varies depending on the time of year and the number of days you’re visiting.
Of course, you get more than just the Hogwarts Express from a park-to-park ticket, you also get the opportunity to explore both of the parks in one day although this probably isn’t going to be a major factor if you’re visiting the park for two days or more as you’d likely just do one park on one day and one park on another.
If this is the case then the flexibility of being able to visit both parks in one day isn’t likely to matter as much and is solely going to come down to whether or not riding the Hogwarts Express is worth $60 per person, and in this case, I’d say probably not.
Where Can You Get The Hogwarts Express?
The Hogwarts Express departs and arrives at two stations at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The first is just outside of Diagon Alley inside the Universal Studios park and the second is just inside the entrance of Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.
Both locations are clearly signposted around the park and on the paper and digital maps should you struggle to locate them.
If you catch the Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios then you’ll be transported to Islands of Adventure and if you catch the Hogwarts Express at Islands of Adventure you’ll be transported to Universal Studios. This is where you would need a park to park ticket as this allows you to transfer from one park to the other within a day.
This is also the main connection between both the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter; Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
How Long Is The Queue For The Hogwarts Express?
The queue for the Hogwarts Express varies dramatically depending on the following factors;
- The time of day
- The time of year
- Which park you’re departing from
- Whether it’s raining (it’s generally quieter in the rain)
As a general rule, I’d estimate anything between 40 and 60 minutes although this can easily go up to 2 hours during the peak season.
You can reduce the amount of time you spend waiting for the Hogwarts Express and other rides during your visit to Universal Studios Resort by purchasing an Express Pass.
If you’re already planning on getting the park to park tickets, then the only thing stopping you from riding the Hogwarts Express is the time you’ll spend queuing for this ride. Some may argue that the time you spend in the queue here is actually more important and valuable than the cost of the park to park tickets especially if you’re not visiting the park for more than a day or two.
In this case, I’d pre-set an amount of time you’re willing to wait based on the other rides you want to go on. Massive Harry Potter fans will often wait in line, no matter what and that’s fine!
However, if you’re not a huge fan and could take or leave the experience then you may want to say “I’ll wait 40 minutes, but if the standby queue is longer than that I’m out”. In which case if you come to the ride’s entrance and see a wait time of 60 minutes, skip it but keep an eye on the wait times on the free to download Universal Studios app.
If you still want to go on the ride at the end of the day and still have time before the park closes then I’d suggest you check the app and see what the wait time is then. From experience, I’ve found the standby queue for any ride at Universal Studios Resort in Orlando is quieter at the start of the day and at the end of the day.
How Long Does The Hogwarts Express Ride Last?
The Hogwarts Express ride at Universal Studios Resort in Orlando Florida lasts 4 minutes and one second, although this doesn’t include boarding and de-boarding the passenger train.
The train projects images and sounds making you genuinely believe you’re on the Hogwarts Express, each leg of the journey is different (Universal to IOA is different to IOA to Universal) so you may want to consider riding both to find your favourite.
Can Anyone Go On The Hogwarts Express?
What I love about the Hogwarts Express ride is how it’s suitable for everyone, there are no minimum age requirements, it’s suitable for people in ECVS and wheelchairs and with minor health issues. In fact, it’s one of the only rides my elderly parents can go on safely at the park.
This certainly impacts the amount of time we’re willing to queue, as they otherwise spend the majority of their day watching the world go by with a cup of tea in hand (how very British ?) while Helen and I ride extreme rides such as Rip Ride Rockit.