3 days at Universal, park hop or not?

Spending 3 days out of 8 (5 at Disney) at Universal two park tix. One day will be dedicated to Potter-mania using the one day nothing but Wizards TP. Am I better to do the other two days as single park days using using the individual 1 day/1 park TP’s for each park or park hop both days using the 2 day/2 park plan? No early entry and no Express. All days are crowd size 5 or less.

Or does it really not matter and I’m over thinking/planning it. :slight_smile:


I am learning this myself. But i see unless you have a park hopper you cannot take the hogwarts express. Or at least that is what i am seeing.

That’s correct. You need the Park to Park ticket (Universal’s version of park hopper) to ride the Hogwarts Express. We have that. Just trying to figure out the best way to use it.

Yeah. Have not been. My girlfriend wants to go. Mostly Harry Potter. So i need to learn more myself. Good luck.

Yes get the hopper. It makes touring so much easier plus its a must for wwohp hogwarts exp The parks are less than 5 minutes walk apart. If it rains you can jump to IOA as it has more indoor rides. If one park gets super busy just walk to the other. Suggest 2day 2park plans but be flexible The wait times are being underestimated at present so add buffers. Most liners use exp pass so there is very little data being to the app. Universal have their own app with wait times and show times etc that we found quite good for use beforehand to get a realistic idea of waits and while in park to help us with queues. Single rider is awesome at uni so make use of it if possible.

Do you NEED to park hop - NO but to do the Hogwards Express as others have noted you do need it. Undercover Tourist has great ticket prices and the upgrade for hoping is minimal. Plus the parks are connected so it is much more convenient to do so.

Here is my suggestion
Stay at a deluxe and get Express Pass free (SO SO WORTH IT) even at low crowd days
Do HP FIRST THING one morning and do that park and take Hogwards to other side ASAP and do HP over there before it gets crowded. Then do one of the general areas of a park. Next 2 days do the same. We must have ridden Hogwards 5 or 6 times at least.

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My family is a bunch of potterheads (I’m the muggle planner) so we were primarily there for wizarding world but enjoyed the flexibility of visiting the two different sites how we wanted to. Day one started at hogsmeade/IOA (early entry) did all the rides we wanted (plus some with no wait) then off to diagon for lunch, gringots, exploring, regular park rides, then back to IOA for dinner and more rides. Day two we started at Universal (at opening) and hit all the rides that had long lines the day before ( like minions), rides we liked, then more diagon/gringots and then back to hogsmeade and more rides at IOA. Did not need express pass for time of year we visited and I think we would have left early if we had to stay only at one park.


Personally, I Iike the convenience of the park-to-park. As mentioned above, the parks are very close together and easy to go between. At Disney, I don’t need to have the hopper because it’s too much of a hassle to get from one park to the other. At Universal, I feel it is invaluable. And then you can also ride the Hogwarts Express every day if you want!

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Must do park hopper IMO

And would strongly advise express pass for everyone

And as advised above even better stay in one of the deluxe hotels for the free express pass. Early start and then relax round the pool in the afternoons to recharge for the next day

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We’ve stayed in royal pacific twice now. But we’ve eaten in hard rock at the palms which was great. Think I would stay there next time.

But all 3 of the deluxe hotels have the express pass, early entry and great pools so they are all great

In City walk our favourite meals were Bob Marleys and Cowfish

Someone just posted to this thread and it was a reminder that I should post an update on what we did and how the trip went.

In the end I did get Park to Park tickets, mainly so we could ride the Hogwarts Express. It was the right decision and everything worked out great. We only rode Hogwarts Express once in each direction (was down the third day we were there) and just walked between the parks when we wanted to swap. We did NOT get Disney park hopper and it was also the right decision.

We stayed off site at a rental by owner property and it worked perfectly. We were closer to Disney which was fine because 5 of 8 days were at Disney but even with the drive we were able to get to Universal pretty early (hard to motivate all 4 kids ages 9 - 17 to go to bed early and get up early) and really had minimal waits in either park.

Probably the biggest factor was picking the right days for each park. Low crowd predictions from Touring Plans was the number 1 criteria I used with park closing times (especially for Disney with the early Halloween event closings) being the second factor. (Yes, I’m a planning maniac. It’s my job.)

We rode the Harry Potter rides multiple times with relatively minimal waits (one back to back trip at a time through the Dragon Challenge was all I could handle) and we even did multiple walk off/walk on trips through The Mummy (like 3 or 4 trips in a row). The Saturday had heavy crowds most everywhere so we used it for our second day at Magic Kingdom and with some strategic use of Fast Passes it wasn’t bad. We also picked MK that day to see the fireworks because other nights MK closed early for the Halloween event. MK fireworks and laser light display that Saturday night was out of this world, well worth the crowds. Biggest negative was the crowds at Epcot because of the Food & Wine festival, especially the night we stayed for the Epcot fireworks (in the end we decided it was too long a day and the fireworks didn’t live up to the wait and the Magic Kingdom fireworks we saw later in the trip were far better). The crowds didn’t really impact ride waits (again, strategic Fast Pass deployment was critical) but walking around was painful at times.

Thanks again to everyone for your advice and recommendations!


Its so funny. I used to believe that anyone who went to US should be shunned (just kidding). However after going to US - I was COMPLETELY impressed. I even loved how “tricky” they are in making it justifiable to get the park to park.

I do NOT get the Park Hopper at WDW as I don’t feel that there is any real reason and there is a detrimental “time” cost to doing so (with exception). However US did it right for a few reasons

1- There is a COOL attraction involved
2 - The fact that Volcano Bay is included makes it a “different” type of park experience as compared to having to buy water park tickets at WDW
3 - The parks are close together so there is MINIMAL time spent going from park to park

To a certain degree I really see US Themeparks as one BIG park and although there is a bit of a difference between the two - it isn’t the huge difference that the various WDW theme parks are.


So how was your experience with your plans? Would you try anything differently? We are going to US and IOA next summer for 3 days and will also be staying offsite, so no Express Pass. My initial thought is to do our first day doing nothing but Harry Potter stuff in both parks using the touring plan listed here, then seeing the rest of the parks the other two days using those plans (which will mix in the best HP stuff for a second go-round).

@TwoBits, I think your plan sounds like a good one, and that is how I do my trips as well. As a huge HP fan, I need a full HP day!

Our last trip down, we only did two days, so we mixed in a bit of both parks each day to hit all of the highlights. In January, we’ll do three days, so I’m thinking we’ll do a park each day and then hit our favorites on the third day.