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The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Location
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Restrictions and access
None; no Express Pass access.

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle at Universal's Islands of Adventure
The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

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 each of the school’s four houses get showcased: Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and, of course, Gryffindor. With narration by the Sorting Hat and the musical accompaniment of John Williams’s iconic score, this is a spectacle not to be missed – even if the line to see the six-minute show can be quite long.

Wait – aren’t there other light projection experiences, too?
Yes! The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is the second in a trio of projection-mapping shows 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, Nighttime is switched out with Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle during the fall, to help celebrate the Halloween season, and – quite possibly – at certain other points throughout the year (we’re still awaiting confirmation on this, although we’ve already seen this to be the case over at Universal Studios Hollywood).

Show schedule and other information
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, that is). However, that doesn’t stop us from providing you with some insider tips and tricks – please see that section below.

Dusk – Jan. 7-31, Feb. 1-28, Mar. 1-6, 8-26, 28-31, Apr. 1-4, 8, 11, 13-25, 28, 29, May 1, 2, 4-6, 8, 9, 11-15, 18-20, 22-31, Jun. 1-10, 12-30, Jul. 1-31, Aug. 1-31, Sept. 1-5, 7-12, Nov. 3-6
No shows – Mar. 7, 27, Apr. 7, Apr. 7, 9, 10, 12, 26, 27, 30, May 3, 7, 10, 16, 17, 21, Jun. 11, Sept. 6, 13-Nov. 2, 7-30, Dec. 1-31

OI fun fact
Nighttime Lights originally debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood in summer 2017, while The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle premiered in Orlando during that year’s holiday celebration. Each location eventually imported the other’s production. (Universal Studios Japan, meanwhile, has had its own exclusive shows during this same time period.)

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – tips and tricks

Nighttime Lights has nearly the same exact schedule and setup as its yuletide forebearer, so we’ve lifted some of the secrets from our Christmas page and inserted them here:

  • The Nighttime Lights shows 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 five minutes. The performances 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – photo gallery

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – real guest reviews

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