The Hogwarts Express is a major attraction at the Universal Orlando Resort. This train connects the two theme parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
As a Universal Orlando annual pass holder, I have been on the Hogwarts Express several times. As such, I feel qualified to share my opinions and experience on the topic to help you decide.
There are two things you’ll need to consider when deciding if the Hogwarts Express is worth it:
Upgrading to a Park-To-Park Ticket
The Hogwarts Express takes you between the two theme parks at Universal Orlando. As such, you can not ride the Hogwarts Express with a single-park ticket.
Instead, you will need a park-to-park ticket to go on the Hogwarts Express. A park-to-park ticket allows you to enter both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day.
Upgrading from a single park ticket to a park-to-park ticket costs around $60 per person per day. The exact cost varies depending on the time of year and number of days you’re visiting.
If you have one day at Universal Orlando, the Hogwarts Express is worth it.
To go on the Hogwarts Express, you must upgrade your one-day ticket to a park-to-park ticket. This upgrade will cost around $60 per person.
However, the park-to-park ticket will give you more than just the Hogwarts Express. With just one day at Universal Orlando, a park-to-park ticket will also allow you to explore the second theme park.
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If you have two days at Universal Orlando, the Hogwarts Express isn’t worth it.
With a two-day ticket, you will spend one day at each theme park. On day one, you might visit Universal Studios, and on day two, Islands of Adventure or vice-versa.
As a result, the upgrade to a Universal Orlando park-to-park ticket only gives you two things:
- The ability to move between parks on the same day.
- The ability to go on the Hogwarts Express
You can’t upgrade just one day of a multi-day ticket to Universal Orlando. As a result, upgrading to a park-to-park ticket for a two-day visit will cost around $100 per person. So unless you really value the ability to move between theme parks, this upgrade is not worth it.
Waiting In Line for the Hogwarts Express
If you have a park-to-park ticket, you must decide if the Hogwarts Express is worth waiting in line for. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. However, I still believe the Hogwarts Express is worth up to a 50-minute wait.
Big fans of the Harry Potter franchise may want to wait in line longer for the ride. However, there are two ways you can ensure you don’t have to do that:
- Buy a Universal Express Pass
- Ride the Hogwarts Express first
The easiest way to avoid waiting in line for the Hogwarts Express is to buy a Universal Express Pass. A Universal Express Pass allows you to cut to the front of the ride on most rides at Universal Orlando.
Universal Express Passes costs upwards of $180 each, on top of your standard theme park ticket. However, Express Passes are free for guests staying at a Universal Premier Resort.
If you don’t have the budget for a Universal Express Pass, there is a free way to ‘cut the queue’ for the Hogwarts Express.
Most guests go on the Hogwarts Express after exploring the first theme park. As such, peak times for the Hogwarts Express are between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
However, if you go on the Hogwarts Express as the theme park opens, wait times are often 10 minutes or less. Just remember that you’ll be travelling to another theme park. So you’ll either need to:
- Travel to the theme park you want to explore on that day
- Re-queue and return to your ‘original’ theme park on the Hogwarts Express.
The story on the Hogwarts Express from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure differs from that on the return journey. Going on the Hogwarts Express twice as the theme park opens is the best way to experience both.
Download the Universal FL mobile app if you can’t go on the Hogwarts Express first and don’t want to wait in line. This app allows you to check wait times and set alerts for all rides at Universal, including the Hogwarts Express.
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🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Orlando?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Orlando tickets. Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Orlando theme park tickets from AttractionTix. I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing Orlando theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
If you’re travelling to Universal Orlando for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Orlando, as the resort has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points. However, if Universal Orlando makes up the majority of your vacation, then you may want to stay on-site.
Staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort comes with several perks. Including complimentary transport from the hotel to the Universal Orlando theme parks. In some cases, you can even walk from your hotel straight to the theme park gates.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Orlando.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando?
If you’re spending the majority of your vacation at Universal Orlando, it’s a good idea to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel. Staying onsite at Universal Orlando comes with several perks, including;
- Early park admission
- Complimentary transport
- Complimentary Universal Express Passes (selected hotels only)
- Walking distance of the Universal theme parks (selected hotels only)
While staying onsite at Universal Orlando is great value for money, it can still be out of budget for many. Thankfully, there are several budget-friendly hotels close to Universal Orlando to choose from.
Meanwhile, if Universal Orlando only makes up part of your Orlando vacation, then you may want to stay elsewhere. Kissimmee, International Drive and Lake Buena Vista are all within a 40-minute drive of Universal Orlando.