“Alohomora” – The spell to open locks. For me, it was the opening of a Harry Potter book to being transported into this mystical world of magic and charm, of love and everlasting friendship, of Quidditch and tournaments, of good and evil, and of joy never ending. To date, it never bores me to read or watch a Harry Potter movie. It’s my happy place and it always will be!
Now, imagine my delight when my husband says we’re going to be spending my birthday in Harry Potter and the Wizarding World in Universal Studios and Universal’s Island of Adventure, Orlando! I was on top of the world! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Considering everything Florda had to offer, we were able to spend only one day in Universal Studios and wanted to make the most of our day there. My love for the Harry Potter series made it a mandate for us to visit both worlds which could’ve been quite a task had we not planned everything out in advance! Read all about how we enjoyed both Theme Parks of “Harry Potter and the Wizarding World” and more in just one day with careful planning! 🙂
If you’re planning to visit Universal Studios, Orlando with flexible dates, it is advisable to book on dates with moderate to low crowd traffic which will result in fewer wait times and shorter lines to get on a ride.Remember that some popular rides like “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” can have wait times of upto 90 minutes! With some planning you can bring down the wait times or avoid them altogether! You can view the crowd calender provided by Orlando Informer here. The day we went, the website showed “moderate” crowd and it seemed just about right.
Park to Park Tickets
The Wizarding World is split into two parts: Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade in Universal’s Island of Adventure both of which are connected by catching the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Platform 9 3/4 in Universal Studios to the Hogsmeade Station in Island of Adventure or vice versa depending on where you are. In order to be able to ride the Hogwart’s Express and visit both parks, you will need to buy a park to park ticket. It costed us $155 (without tax) per person to visit both parks for one day only. Depending on your budget, you can also add on Express passes at an additional charge that will help you skip certain lines but not inclusive of all rides. We did not purchase Express passes and did not regret it either.
The answer to help solve parking woes is to get here early! That should always be your mantra while visiting both theme parks! It can save you time as well as rid you of the frustration of having to wait in lines. Both parks have soo much to offer to all members of the family that people visit here all day every year and considering the number of people, there are bound to be some amount of issues in terms of parking and lines. We reached the entrance to the parking at 8:30am and opted for regular parking which was $20. There was another option to park closer to the park which was around $35 if my memory serves me right. Considering we got there early, we got a spot which was fairly close to the park. 🙂
Sometimes, the closing hours of Universal Studios and Island of Adventure differ. On the day we visited, Island of Adventure closed an hour prior to Universal Studios. Knowing this information in advance helped us plan our way around such that we finish everything we wanted to do and see in Island of Adventure and then leaving ample time to spend in Universal Studios. The parks generally open at 9:00am for regular admission. As far as we know, if you’re planning your stay with Universal Studios, then you will be allowed to enter and start your rides one hour prior to when the park opens for regular admission. Getting to the entrance by 8:30am will help you get through the ticket check early and they let us in to start the rides by 8:50am! 🙂 Yay for all the early birds that were there! 🙂
Let the RIDES begin
We entered through Universal Studios and went straight to meet Stan Shunpike! If you want, you can take a picture with him when there is no wait time as opposed to later when we saw a line. You can also see the red telephone booth too! 🙂 Don’t forget to see Kreacher peek through 12 Grimmauld Place! That was something I didn’t expect! 😉 When you step into Diagon Alley, take a minute to imbibe everything you see but don’t take too long! You will have enough time for it later! Get straight to riding “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts“. We had no wait time here and went straight in. The ride was soo good, we went a second round when we saw no wait times again. This is one of the most popular rides and were glad to have experienced no wait time. 🙂
Post which we headed straight to King’s Cross to ride the Hogwart’s Express! We were on our ride in the next five minutes! I highly recommend getting park to park ticket to ride the Hogwart’s Express! It’s a wonderful experience! Don’t forget to ride it back as well! The rides are slightly different on both journeys! We reached Hogsmeade by 10:05am and immediately went to ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” at Hogwarts. We faced less than 5 minutes wait time here! The ride was soo amusing we went ahead and rode it once more! This was when the lines were slowly starting to build. By 11:05am, we were done riding two of the most popular times with the longest wait times! Now, we had the rest of the day to finish the Wizarding World and more. So far so good! Phew! ☺️
For us “grown ups”, the “Flight of the Hippogriff” seems like a ride you want to skip, but please don’t! 😬 You can see Buckbeak and Hagrid’s house which is a must see! The ride in itself is pleasant too! Although, the “Dragon Challenge” is not for the faint hearted! This is one of those rides you do before you have too much food in your stomach! 😋 By 11:15am, we were done with all the rides in IoA’s(Island of Adventure) portion of the Wizarding World.
It’s a good idea to have an early lunch because the wait lines got pretty long pretty fast during lunch! There were pretty long lines between 12pm – 2:30pm. Lunch can be had at The Three Broomsticks! The fish and chips were delicious ! Now, about the quick service meal plan pass. Some say it’s a good deal, some don’t think much of it. We could’ve done without it. The quick service meal pass includes 1 quick service meal (1 entree + 1 non-alcoholic beverage), 1 snack and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. FYI, butterbeer can be bought as a snack as part of the meal pass. It didn’t help us out much but hey, to each his own! The quick service meal pass is about $22(not including tax) per person.
At 12, we were done with all the Harry Potter rides in IOA and lunch. We had ample time to look around Hogsmeade. Don’t forget to watch the shows in Hogsmeade as well as the one in Ollivander’s. You can ask someone who works there for the show timings.
Considering we were done well ahead of time, these were the additional rides we did in Island of Adventure:
- Jurassic Park : Lost River Ride (water ride)
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (we rode this 2 times! 🙂 )
Our Hogwart’s Express ride back to Universal Studios took a about 45 because of the long wait time! 😦 This was our first ride with a long wait time.
In Universal Studios, we explored Diagon Alley with ample time to spare. Don’t forget to watch the dragon above Gringott’s blow fire. 🙂 We rode “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” one more time. 🙂 Our snacks had kept us comfortable and we decided to skip eating dinner at Leaky Cauldron and decided to do more rides outside the Wizarding World! 🙂
- Transformers : The Ride -3D (we had a wait time of about 20 minutes)
- Revenge of the Mummy (a must ride for thrill seekers!!!!) + (we had a wait time of about 10 minutes)
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (we had a wait time of about 15 minutes)
Having done ten rides (some multiple times!), we thought our day went better than expected and it was well worth the money spent! 🙂 ! For some,the experience is sour because they end up waiting in long lines just to get to a ride and this, after having spent over $150 for a day! A little bit of planning and timing can make all the difference in the world! I’ve gone on long enough so to make a long story short:
- Plan your trip based on the crowd calender available here.
- Get there early. Will help with parking and avoiding long lines.
- Eat early. (especially if you’re spending time in the Wizarding World)
- Know what rides you want to do. Planning ahead will help immensely.
The whole experience is unforgettable! It’s something one must experience atleast once in a lifetime! I hope this post helped! Have the best time! 🙂
Trupti | Novembrella ❤️
P.S : All rides are in bold! 😊