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Hogwarts Express runs between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando

The Hogwarts Express runs between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
The Hogwarts Express runs between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
Barb Nefer

The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Islands of Adventure in 2010. It was such a smash hit that Diagon Alley has now sprung up next door at Universal Studios Florida, with an official opening date of July 8. And how will Harry Potter fans get between those two iconic places? Why, on the Hogwarts Express, of course!

Sure, you can walk between the two theme parks, but it's a lot more fun to travel like wizards and witches do. You'll need a two park ticket, and you can hop aboard the Hogwarts Express at a station on either side.

I had the opportunity to board at Kings Cross Station in London for a rare round trip (normally, you'll have to get off and get back in line if you want to return to the park where you started your journey). Click the slideshow accompanying this article to see the train and station, which is obviously set up to handle immense crowds. There's even a snack shop set up inside the queue.

And how exactly do you get onto a platform to the Wizarding World that's normally hidden from muggles? You go through the wall, of course. You literally will see people doing it while you wait, and you'll have an opportunity to do it for yourself.

The ride itself is four minutes, and you travel on a trestle backstage between the two parks. You'll never know it, though, as the scenery outside your window is straight out of the movies. It's different for each of the two trips, and my favorite is the return from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley, as I love seeing Buckbeak and the Weasley fireworks.

Not all the action is outside your window. You'll also see shadows and hear from various other familiar passengers walking past your coach.

While the Hogwarts Express is sure to be a big hit, the major attraction in Diagon Alley is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. I was able to tour the queue line and experience the elevator ride that takes you to the ride itself. Jump to this article for a slideshow of scenes from the exquisitely detailed bank.

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