Brad and I spent a day at Universal Studios (and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) a couple years ago. Last month when I flew into Orlando for a conference, I had a few hours to kill before picking up other people from the airport (yay redeye flights). My friend Rachel and I headed to Universal Studios with the goal of checking out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Since we only had part of a day to experience both parks, I knew that we needed a plan of attack. Fortunately, I thrive off of coming up with these start of plans. I started at Undercover Tourist to check out the expected crowds.
If you go to the “Things to Do” pages for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure you can see the current wait time for each of the rides. On a day that had similar crowd expectations as the day I was planning on going, I checked these pages throughout the day to see how the crowds changed and when they peaked.
If there are certain rides that are on your “must do” list, put a priority of getting those rides done first. If you are staying off-site, I recommend starting at the park that doesn’t have early entry. We definitely saw a crowd increase at Islands of Adventure when we took the Hogwarts Express over from Universal Studios.
We started the day at Universal Studios and headed straight to Diagon Alley. It was pretty empty when we first got there which was great for wandering around and taking in all the sights. There was only a 10 minute wait for the Escape from Gingrotts ride; even with a short line we took some time to walk slowly through the queue to see all the details from the book that they included into the ride.
After checking out the shops and visiting Olivander’s Wand Shop, we headed to King’s Cross Station to take the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade. There are quite a few more rides to do on that side of the park. Again we didn’t have much wait, but if you are there during a busy time, make sure to prioritize and use the App for up to date information.
There are multiple places to get butterbeer around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There was a long line to pick some up at The Three Broomsticks, but the drink cart just outside didn’t have a very long wait. It was the perfect afternoon snack (I recommend the frozen one, it is quite yummy).
Since the Hogwarts Express is a different ride depending on the direction you are going, I recommend using it to park hop (the other option is to walk through the front doors of the park, but where is the fun in that).
So the rides. If you get motion sickness, be careful. A majority of the rides aren’t 100% roller coasters, but also use 3D video and motion to add to the experience. I generally don’t get motion sick; however, even the castle ride got to me a bit (the lack of sleep and heat might have also added to that).
If you have some time in Orlando, make sure to spend a day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. With a plan of attack, you are sure to make the most of your day. Also, before you head out for your trip, pick up some pretty awesome essentials from Amazon and start the trip off right.