Hogsmeade Station at Islands of Adventure: Construction coverage

 

You are in the OI Universal Center ARCHIVE

This page is retired. To view our active pages, please visit the OI Universal Center.

 

Is Harry Potter really taking over all of Universal Orlando? Well, perhaps not all of it, but with expansion projects currently in progress at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, you could get that feeling.

Hogsmeade Station construction at Islands of Adventure.

Hogsmeade Station construction at Islands of Adventure.

Keep reading to learn all about the expansion project at Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade Station). Or, if you’ve visited this article before, you can skip down to our latest update posted May 1, 2014.


Would you like to discuss this amazing development with your fellow fans, or do you have questions about planning your visit to Hogsmeade? We invite you to join us in the OI Forums.


 

Hogsmeade Station for the Hogwarts Express

On December 6, 2011, Universal held an event at Universal Studios Hollywood to announce that the boy who lived was going to have a brand new home in California. During the press event Universal also stated that Harry’s original home in Orlando would undergo a “significant expansion”.

That’s all executives said about Orlando back in 2011, giving no other details whatsoever. But throughout 2012 an incredible amount of construction launched, first at Universal Studios Florida, then at Islands of Adventure – and during practically the whole time theme park enthusiasts and industry experts agreed that the work must all be tied to a two-park expansion of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

Finally the speculation was confirmed on May 8, 2013, when Universal made the official announcement:

Scheduled to open in 2014, the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience expands The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both Universal Orlando theme parks and allows Universal’s creative team to bring an unparalleled vision to this unique project.

Diagon Alley concept art - closeup of the Hogwarts Express.

Diagon Alley concept art – closeup of the Hogwarts Express.

The largest work area for the Potter expansion project is happening at Universal Studios Florida, in the location formerly occupied by JAWS and the Amity backlot. You can learn more about the construction over there, see the full Harry Potter announcement press release, and view our huge photo gallery going back to the final day when JAWS was open by clicking here.

At Islands of Adventure, where work did not start until September 2012, the construction space started off quite a bit smaller than what you see at Universal Studios. Indeed, from the guests’ perspective, all that could be seen was a tan wall with an encouraging sign. Even taking a quick peek over the wall did not reveal much at all…

Harry Potter expansion at IOA - November 13, 2012.

Harry Potter expansion at IOA – November 13, 2012.

Harry Potter expansion at IOA - November 13, 2012.

Harry Potter expansion at IOA – November 13, 2012.

Harry Potter expansion at IOA - November 13, 2012.

Harry Potter expansion at IOA – November 13, 2012.

Despite not being able to identify any structures until the spring months of 2013, fans all along were certain that this construction area – between the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter and The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show – would one day be home to the Hogsmeade Station loading platform for the Hogwarts Express. Yes, you read correctly. By summer 2014, Universal guests will be able to ride a real train between the two Harry Potter lands inside Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade).

In other words, you will be able to take the same journey as Harry did from London to Hogwarts Castle and back.

About the same time that Universal made the initial Harry Potter announcement – May 8, 2013 – that the visual beginnings of Hogsmeade Station started to tower in the distance behind the tan construction walls. In addition, many photos surfaced of the actual train tracks that now connect the two Universal theme parks…

Hogsmeade Station construction at Islands of Adventure - May 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction at Islands of Adventure – May 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction at Islands of Adventure - May 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction at Islands of Adventure – May 2013.

As we move through 2013 and into 2014, we expect to see a lot more progress in this area, and we’re particularly interested to see exactly how Universal ties in the new Hogsmeade Station with the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. After all, as of right now, a “life-size” version of the Hogwarts Express is parked just inside the Hogsmeade front archway! (UPDATE: Rumors say the Hogwarts Express photo op is staying in Hogsmeade.)

 

When will this project be completed?

To view all our information about the soft opening schedule and grand opening date, skip over to our main Diagon Alley article.

 

If guests can travel between USF and IOA on a train, how will admission work?

We touched on this briefly in the question above, now we’ll take a slightly closer look.

If you are at all familiar with Universal’s theme parks, you know that you must pay one price for admission to visit one park and a second, higher price for admission to visit both parks on the same day. Does this mean only guests with Park-to-Park tickets will be able to ride the Hogwarts Express? Will you be able to upgrade at the station? Will there be a way to pay just to go on the train attraction?

What we know for certain is that, yes, a Park-to-Park admission ticket will be required for any guest who wants to ride the Hogwarts Express. Unless Universal releases contradictory details, there is no reason to believe there will be a separate “Hogwarts Express ticket” if a guest only has single-park admission and just wants to ride the train to the other park and back. On the other hand, we’re confident Universal will have ticket booths at both train platforms – Hogsmeade Station in IOA and King’s Cross Station in USF – for guests to pay for a Park-to-Park ticket upgrade.

This strategy is in perfect alignment with Universal’s longtime goal (and also Disney’s goal) to have guests buy Park-to-Park tickets (in Disney’s case, these are called Park Hopper tickets). And, honestly, what Potter fan isn’t going to pay the premium for Park-to-Park access when they see this running on the tracks?

Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando - October 24, 2013.

Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando – October 24, 2013.

 

I don’t see anywhere for the trains to turn around. What gives?

That’s correct. The track laid out between Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade) does not allow for the trains to turn around. Instead, they will always face toward Islands of Adventure and operate in reverse as they return to Universal Studios Florida.

This is not without precedent in the real world, as one of our fans from Scotland explained: “With regard to the Hogwarts Express engines being in the rear when returning to Universal Studios – a few years ago my family and I took a journey on the Fort William to Mallaig line in Scotland. This is the line used in the Harry Potter films, and it has the viaduct that is prominently featured in scenes from “Chamber of Secrets” (known as the Glen Finnan Viaduct). On our return journey the engine was at the back, as there is no turning facility at Mallaig, so you could say that the new Universal ride is very realistic. Also, if you look at the scenes of Hogsmeade Station in the films, there doesn’t appear to be a turning point there either. I’m sure that’s just a happy coincidence though!”

A related query asks, if there are two trains, how do they pass? This is accomplished at a point between the parks where, for a few hundred feet, the track splits in two:

Hogwarts Express tracks.

Hogwarts Express tracks via Attractions Magazine.

Now that we’ve covered the basics about what’s happening with the Potter expansion project inside Islands of Adventure, let’s check on the construction progress…

 

Construction update – May 1, 2014

Welcome to our final construction update covering Hogsmeade Station at Islands of Adventure. We’ve got quite a bit to cover, so let’s jump right in!

As we expected, work on the Hogsmeade Station site has picked up tremendously in the last six weeks. For most of 2013 and the first part of 2014, it felt like this project was moving at a snail’s pace, making many of us wonder if something was wrong. Nothing ever was (that we know of) – it just seems like the Hogsmeade Station construction schedule was set up to move slowly until the very end.

Here is the difference in just the last two month (look at the dates in the photo captions):

Hogsmeade Station construction - February 3, 2014.

February: Lost Continent carnival games closed but still there.

Hogsmeade Station construction - April 24, 2014.

April: carnival games are gone and a new structure rises.

Hogsmeade Station construction - February 3, 2014.

February: Facing toward Hogsmeade Station in the distance.

Hogsmeade Station construction - April 24, 2014.

April: Facing toward Hogsmeade Station in the distance.

Like I said, it’s taken some time, but now that we are getting so close to the grand opening, construction is moving at a fevered pace.

To see where we’ve come from over the last year, this set of photos presents a time lapse effect:

Harry Potter expansion at IOA - March 20, 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction – March 20, 2013.

Harry Potter expansion at IOA - June 11, 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction – June 11, 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction - October 18, 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction – October 18, 2013.

Hogsmeade Station construction - February 3, 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction – February 3, 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction - April 24, 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction – April 24, 2014.

Remember, you can click on any photo to view it full-screen. And don’t miss our complete photo gallery with images dating all the way back to September 2012 at the bottom of the page.

Want to get a sense of exactly how all of this is laid out at the entrance to Hogsmeade? In our latest construction video, you can. The video starts near the Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show stadium and the Mystic Fountain, then we walk up to the entrance to Hogsmeade, and finally the last few seconds show the new Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop storefront in Hogsmeade.

We’ve got even more to show you!

For our April 2014 IOA trip report, OI contributor Maureen was able to get some great shots of the Hogsmeade Station site as viewed from Dragon Challenge. These photos are particularly interesting because we’re able to see, for the first time, the new pathways that will lead arriving guests from Hogsmeade Station down to the village of Hogsmeade. Note that the second photo is a “zoom in” on the first photo:

Hogsmeade Station construction - April 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction – April 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction "zoom in" - April 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction “zoom in” – April 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction - April 2014.

Hogsmeade Station construction – April 2014.

By the way, the structure you see in the second photo will be home to the ticketing booths for Hogsmeade Station. Why are those necessary? Because guests will need a Park-to-Park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express. We have more information about this mid-way up this page.

Considering all that has happened, most of our attention during the last two year’s has been focused on Universal Studios Florida and the building of Diagon Alley. But given the way Hogsmeade’s expansion is looking lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being one of the most impressive aspects of the entire project.

I bet the view stepping out of Hogsmeade Station and looking down the hill at Hogsmeade village and onto Hogwarts Castle is going to be absolutely breathtaking.

 

Why is this likely to be the last construction update?

Our coverage of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Station is ready to take its next step. With as much information as is now available, it’s the right time to move past speculation and construction updates and move into the real work of developing our full-fledged vacation planning guide for Diagon Alley. This will take a tremendous amount of work on our part – after all, Diagon Alley is the most amazing theme park project in existence, which means that matching its intensity with world-class vacation planning with be a challenge.

So, going forward, we’re pulling our resources from construction updates and moving them into vacation planning. Don’t worry – we’ll still provide photos and video of construction developments each week, you just won’t necessarily see them in this article. Instead, we ask that you follow us on Twitter or bookmark our Flickr page to view the very latest photos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our latest videos.

 

When will this project be completed?

To view all our information about the soft opening schedule and grand opening date, skip over to our main Diagon Alley article.

 

Will Orlando Informer provide touring plans for all of the Wizarding World?

Now that we’re so close to the opening, this question is coming up quite a bit, and this seems like a good place to address it.

The answer is yes, we will provide our readers with handcrafted touring plans for just the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (covering both USF’s Diagon Alley and IOA’s Hogsmeade), and we will also be incorporating the Wizarding World expansion in our existing touring plans, including our 1-day USF & IOA plan and our 3-day plan for on-site guests.

To get a jump start on the action, you can view all of our free touring plans right now.

 

Can I see more?

Yes! Keep scrolling down to see our complete photo gallery. And, when you’re done with this page, don’t forget to check out our main Diagon Alley article.


Would you like to discuss this amazing development with your fellow fans, or do you have questions about planning your visit to Hogsmeade? We invite you to join us in the OI Forums.


Hogsmeade Station construction – photo gallery

Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery.


April 24, 2014


February 3, 2014


October 18, 2013


June 11, 2013


March 20, 2013


January 8, 2013


November 29, 2012


November 13, 2012


September 12, 2012


Harry Potter expansion at IOA – map

Click any marker to display the attraction or venue name. To scroll or zoom, use the controls on the top-left of the map. You may also switch to different map views by using the buttons on the top-right of the map.

 

Support us by sharing this page!



Home » Insider’s guide to WWoHP
Print This Page