What is Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle?
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 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, and one that’s not to be missed.
Where is Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle located?
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle – height restrictions and other factors
None; no Express Pass access.
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle – fear factor
3.5 out of 5 Dementors. Although the show’s theme is all things dark and evil, the action is projected away on the castle, with nothing to jump out and scare you – it’s more of a spooky, eerie vibe that ends with good triumphing over evil.
Death Eaters Attack
NOTE: due to COVID-19, Death Eaters Attack won’t return in 2020.
Typically on the nights that Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle plays, there is something of a preshow located down the street, within the heart of Hogsmeade Village: Death Eaters emerge from the corner of Honeydukes and The Three Broomsticks to make a grand entrance, replete with sinister green lighting and a small pyrotechnic display (the baddies shooting off a spell from their wands). Voldemort’s minions then proceed to menacingly prowl Hogsmeade, occasionally setting off spell effects (such as making the lights flicker or a big fireball erupt from above the entrance to Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure) and stopping for those all-important muggle selfies. Then, once they’ve sufficiently made their scene, they escape back from whence they came, sometimes with a hapless wizarding world citizen in their vile clutches.
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. While The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is, of course, shown only during November and December, when the Holidays celebration is held, Dark Arts is switched out with The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle during certain parts of the year.
When does The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle take place?
Show times aren’t published in Universal’s in-park guide map, and the company only announces when the first performance of the evening will be on its website. However, that doesn’t stop us from providing you with some insider tips and tricks – see below!
For 2020, Universal has only confirmed that Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle will return on “select nights”; last year, it ran from September to November. Here’s a snippet of 2019’s schedule just to give you an idea of show times:
Nov. 8-11, 2019 – 6:15 pm
Nov. 12, 2019 – no shows
Nov. 13-15, 2019 – 6:00 pm
Note: Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle is a seasonal production and has no scheduled showings (as of right now) past Nov. 15, 2019.
What was Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle’s premiere date?
September 14, 2019
What you wish you knew before you experienced it
If you’re new to the Harry Potter franchise, it would behoove you to know that Harry’s mortal enemy is the evil wizard Voldemort, whose main goals are to enslave non-magical humans, maintain the integrity of “pure-blood” wizarding lineages, and (last, but not least) become immortal at any cost. The dark beings of the wizarding world have joined forces with Voldemort to help him achieve these ends and get a little cut of the action for themselves.
OI fun fact
Dark Arts (and the attached Death Eaters Attack) may represent the first time the Wizarding World here in America has walked on the dark side, but Universal Studios Japan’s Hogsmeade was engaged in similar experiences for a few years previously: both the 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
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle has nearly the same exact schedule and setup as its summer and yuletide forebearers, so we’ve lifted some of the secrets from our other projection pages and inserted them here:
- 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.
- Sometimes, you’ll find that either stanchions have been set up or tape has been laid out all throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. The main pathway running straight through the village and up to Hogwarts Castle has two lanes: on the right is generally up, towards Hogwarts (you can try to walk the other way, but you’ll be fighting an incessant wave of people), and the left is down only, toward the land’s main entrance. And lest you think you can bypass this congestion by taking the back alleyway that sneaks behind Dervish and Banges and leads to the Frog Choir stage, think again – Universal closes this off come nightfall.
- 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, but 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 recommend the bridge that leads from Hogsmeade to Jurassic Park, if you get there early enough to nab a spot.
- Both Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and (usually) Flight of the Hippogriff are still operational during a Nighttime Lights showing, and their wait times are 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.
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle – photo gallery
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle – real guest reviews
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- Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Honeydukes at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Ollivanders Wand Shop in Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Triwizard Spirit Rally & Frog Choir at Universal’s Islands of Adventure