Universal Orlando's Hogwarts Express has opened to guests for the first time - here's what we've learned from the ride's debut.
At 3pm on Tuesday, July 1, the gates in front of the King’s Cross train station at Universal Studios Florida as well as the Hogsmeade train station at Islands of Adventure came down, and Universal began a "technical rehearsal" of the Hogwarts Express train ride that allowed guests in the park to experience this attraction for the first time. This rehearsal is set to run from now up until The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley official's opening date on July 8.
During this technical rehearsal (which is essentially an expanded soft opening) the Hogwarts Express will run during intermittent periods throughout the day. Though there is a sign at the front of both the King’s Cross and Hogsmeade entrances warning guests that the ride could be halted at any time, the train ran for the remainder of its first day of operation from 3PM to park close without interruption.
1. The ride time and capacity
Reports are that cycle times during its innaugural day varied between 7-9 minutes (which is quite efficient) and the ride seems to be able to handle between 1200-1500 guests per hour, which should provide some relief when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley opens officially and attendance swells.
2. Wait times may not be too painful
In another encouraging sign, wait times did not exceed 50 minutes at their highest point, even after official Universal media channels shared news of the soft opening and guests started flooding the train stations. For most of the afternoon and into the evening, wait times hovered between 20 and 30 minutes, as eager guests boarded the Hogwarts Express in a timely and orderly fashion.