For those of you that don’t know (like I didn’t) Universal Studio’s is broken into two parks. Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. To ride The Hogwarts Express, you need a park to park ticket. That way you can visit both parks in the same day and ride between them as the experience is different each time. Firstly to go from Diagon Alley to Hogsmead, you need to head to King’s Cross Station where you will pass through the magic wall onto platform 9 3/4. (sorry my phone was not co-operating and was a bit fuzzy for the start of the video). The affects they have used here are really cool as from our side, it really looks like the kids are disappearing into the wall! From the other side (as you can see in the video) it looks normal so I really wish they video’d everyone walking through so you could buy it.
Once you step through, you arrive at the platform. They have even nailed the details here with suitcases and Hedwig waiting on the slide for collection.
You sit on the train and they close your cabin. Your window then comes to life with scenes of hagrid, countryside and finally Hogwarts. The door freezes when the Dementors turn up and when you come back the other way, the shadows of chocolate frogs, Harry, Hermonie and Ron appear. Again, it’s done perfectly. At Hogsmeade you are greeted with snow capped buildings and the smell of Butterbear. This you can have hot or cold but since it was still a coolish day, we opted for the hot version. It is amazing! All butterscotchy with a cold marshmallowy foam on top, super moreish and I could have had 4 on the spot.
After working our way around, completing spells we were lucky enough to be able to head inside the castle for a self guided tour. It was officially closed for maintenance, so we couldn’t do the ride but as it was a bit quiet they were letting a few people in. We were surprised at how big it is inside! I was thinking the size was more for show but it actually too 20 min to walk through and we were being rushed by the crowd. Again, the detail is amazing. My favourite was definitely the rooms with the moving and talking paintings. I really couldn’t tell you how they have done this! It fully looks just like any other painting, and then it moves, talks and people even walk out of frame. The projections of Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione and Ron in the hall are great and the kids were thrilled to actually see them, as if they were really alive and talking to them.
After the tour we hit Flight of the Hippogriff, a roller coaster aimed more at the little ones. This was a big hit so we lined up and did it again…. and again, just for good measure. It’s a great way to see Hagrid’s house and of course the Hippogriff.
After watching the frog choir and chatting with the hanging head on the night bus our day was done. Tomorrow, maybe we will see something other than Harry Potter… but I’m not holding my breath 🙂