Universal Orlando has revealed 10 new details of the soon-to-open Hogwarts Express, as well as releasing new images of the ride.
The Hogwarts Express will link the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure with the under-construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. It will recreate the journey taken by Potter and his friends at the start and finish of every year at Hogwarts.
Universal has kept details of the ride experience on the Hogwarts Express fairly close to its chest. But now we have some important new details, which we've summarised below.
10. You'll pass through a "brick wall" in Kings Cross Station
The Diagon Alley terminal for the Hogwarts Express will be a recreation of London's Kings Cross Station, complete with a facade facing onto the park's lagoon. In the movies, Harry Potter and his friends reach Platform 9 3/4 by walking directly through a brick wall. Universal has now confirmed that guests at Universal Studios Florida will go through the same transition - although it hasn't revealed exactly what combination of special effects it will use to achieve this illusion.
9. The train will billow steam
After they enter the station, guests will "watch in amazement as the Hogwarts Express pulls into the station - its billowing steam and authentic whistle beckoning you to hop aboard." The paint, materials and even the train's whistle are all faithful to those seen in the Harry Potter movies.
8. You'll be seated in cabins
As expected, guests will be seated in one of the Hogwarts Express cabins with their friends and family. You can see the cabin doors on either side of the photo above.
The cabins and hallways themselves will be exactly the same size as those seen in the movies. You can see one in the screen capture above. Each of the two trains will be able to hold 200 passengers. The cabins can hold 8 passengers each, suggesting that each train will have 25 cabins in total.
7. It'll use "glasses-free" 3-D
The Hogwarts Express will actually travel through a backstage area between the two parks, but multimedia technology will be used to convince guests that they are journeying between London and Hogsmeade. Guests will look out of the "windows" and see scenes play out - and depending on where they are seating on the train, and the angle they are looking at the window from, the scene will look different.
No glasses will be used to achieve the 3-D effects. This means the scenes probably won't have the same depth as a traditional 3-D movie, but will not look flat either.
6. It'll be a lengthy experience
Most theme park rides are over in two or three minutes. Not so with the Hogwarts Express, which Universal promises will last for a full seven minutes.
It's not clear if that figure includes boarding and disembarking. If it did, the ride would have a healthy theoretical capacity of around 3,500 riders per hour. If we assume it doesn't, and that boarding will take another 5 minutes or so, the figure will be more like 2,000 - not a bad number, but one that will ensure lengthy queues at all times.