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Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Opening date
Sometime in 2019

Restrictions and access
None; no Express Pass access.

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle

Two-sentence insider summary
Hogwarts Castle (home of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) is transformed into the canvas for a magical projection-mapping show that sees the building be swarmed by Lord Voldemort’s “cruel legions,” including Death Eaters, Dementors, mountain trolls, Inferi, and Aragog the Acromantula. “Dark” isn’t just in the name – this is a more intense Harry Potter experience, though one that’s still not to be missed.

Wait – aren’t there other light projection experiences, too?
Yes! Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle is actually the third in the projection-mapping series at Universal Orlando. Although there have been no specifics announced on this front yet, this is how we guess Universal will handle balancing the shows: The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle will more than likely be switched out with this new production at certain points throughout the year, while The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, of course, will be reserved for November and December, when the Holidays celebration is held.

Show schedule and other information
No schedule has been published yet; however, we fully expect Dark Arts to run just like its two Hogwarts predecessors – which is to say, show times won’t be published in Universal’s in-park guide map, and the company will probably only announce when the first performance of the evening will be (on its website, that is). Since Nighttime Lights (and, sometimes, Magic of Christmas, as well) typically begins running at dusk on show nights, we suspect this will also be the same for Dark Arts.

OI fun fact
Dark Arts may represent the first time the Wizarding World here in America has walked on the dark side, but Universal Studios Japan’s Hogsmeade has been engaged in similar experiences for the past few years: both a Death Eaters-centric Halloween show and Dementors Attack projection-mapping production have been routinely trotted out since the fall of 2016. (You can read all about both of them in our in-depth feature).

Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle – tips and tricks

Continuing our assumption that Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle will have nearly the same exact schedule and setup as its summer and yuletide forbearers, we’ve lifted some of the secrets from our other projection pages and inserted them here:

  • Dark Arts shows will probably typically start around 7:15 pm (8:15 after the Daylight Savings change), though this can be bumped up to as early as 6:45, and last for approximately eight minutes. The performances will probably tend to occur every 20 minutes, with a final showing at park close and, if you’re really lucky, a no-we-really-mean-it final showing at 20 minutes after park close.
  • Traffic flow in and around Hogsmeade is a big deal. Once dusk falls, the entranceway from The Lost Continent is made into the land’s only entrance (though, once inside, you can still leave through this gate), while the doorway with Jurassic Park is a one-way-only exit. If you have absolutely no interest in dealing with the wizarding crowds but you still want to stroll around the park, you’ll need to take the bypass bridge that links Lost Continent directly with Jurassic Park – when it’s open, that is; right now, it’s under maintenance/construction and has been shut down. It’s currently believed, however, that the bridge will reopen at some point later this year.
  • The best viewing area is in front of the Frog Choir/Triwizard Spirit Rally stage. Not surprisingly, this is also the most-crowded area, as well. If you want to minimize the throngs of people around you as much as possible, try going on a less-crowded day (see our FREE crowd calendar for help with that) or, barring that, shoot for the last few showings of the night; not only do you have much more breathing room, Universal recommends these as being the optimum performances, anyway.
  • If you have no choice but to visit on a busy (or busier) day, then we have two recommendations for less-populated-but-still-good vantage spots: the back porch of The Three Broomsticks has a few trees that partially obstruct the view of the castle, but it still provides a good perspective overall; and the bridge that leads from Hogsmeade to Jurassic Park, if you get there early enough to nab a spot (and if it’s not under construction, that is).
  • Both Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and (usually) Flight of the Hippogriff will still be operational during a Dark Arts showing, and their wait times should be lessened while everyone else is busy looking at the castle. Take advantage of that either before or after you’ve had your nighttime projection-mapping fill.

We have an entire community of Universal fans discussing the show right now! When you’re done here, join us for vacation planning and more in our OI Community Facebook group.