5:27 pm EDT, October 24, 2013

Universal unveils first look at Wizarding World expansion’s Hogwarts Express

After sitting behind the scenes for several weeks, Universal Orlando has unveiled the first official look at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s working Hogwarts Express.

The first parts of the train began rising onto the track early Thursday morning, and the photos show the train being lowered onto the track. The real Hogwarts Express will transport guests to and from the existing Hogsmeade land at Islands of Adventure and the new Diagon Alley land at Universal Studios. A two-park ticket will be required to ride the train and experience both lands since they are in separate Universal parks.

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While guests are aboard the train, they won’t be able to see out real windows, so you won’t be looking at Universal’s backstage areas. Instead, riders will be looking at digital screens that make it look like you’re traveling through the English countryside.

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Rumors of a working Hogwarts Express first surfaced nearly two years ago when news of an expansion came to light. It was hard to believe that Universal would be able to pull off such an amazing feature, but today’s photo marks the exciting countdown to being able to ride the train ourselves.

A stationary Hogwarts Express currently sits at Hogsmeade Village at Wizarding World as a photo opp. The conductor stands out front of it and lets you take pictures with him and the train. It remains to be seen whether or not this area will remain after the Hogwarts Express opens next summer. Since it’s so popular to take pictures with, and it’s an now an iconic part of the land, our guess is that it will stay.

Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express will open summer 2014. Other features of Diagon Alley reportedly include a Gringotts Bank thrill ride, new shops, and The Leaky Cauldron restaurant. See the first concept art and recently-released promotional artwork for Diagon Alley.

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