Day 1 - We're Off to See the Wizards

Okay, our first day in the parks. Family consists of me, DH, DD14 and DD11. We have been to Universal before but only for one day drop ins and only to IOA. This is our first time staying onsite (Hard Rock) and first time with Express Pass.

Got up at 6 am. The beds at the Hard Rock are super comfortable but I was still awake a couple of hours before the alarm. I have trouble sleeping when I am excited and of course I was excited to get started. Actually managed to get the whole family up and ready to head out before 7:30, quite the feat with DD14 who will happily sleep till noon every day!

We walked to USF from the hotel, a really pretty path. Arrived at the front gate about 7:40 and were let in a few minutes before 8 am. Walked at a leisurely pace to Diagon Alley and went straight to Escape from Gringott’s. Pretty much walked right on after dropping our backpack in a locker. We all enjoyed the ride though we agreed that it wasn’t quite as good as Forbidden Journey.

After Gringott’s we spent some time exploring Diagon Alley and casting spells with our wands. Thanks to whoever it was that let me know about “wand repair” we were able to get DD14’s wand replaced at Ollivander’s with no problems.

Next we went to breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron. Really good food and lots of it. Apparently I have more of a sweet tooth than either daughter because I was the only one able to finish my pumpkin juice!

It was now about 10 am and we left Diagon Alley, checked out the Knight Bus and spotted Kreacher at 12 Grimmauld Place before catching the Hogwarts Express to IOA.

In Hogsmead we rode FJ twice using the Express Pass and also did Flight of the Hippogriff and bought butterbeers, then took Hogwarts Express back to USF. It is great to have a ride connecting the two parts of the Wizarding World.

Next we hit Fast and Furious. Not really worth the wait in our opinions. We much preferred Revenge of the Mummy, although if they are going to insist that you use a locker they should really make them big enough to hold a backpack with stuff in it. We had to empty most of our pack into one locker and use a second locker for the bag itself!

Continued on to Jimmy Fallon. This was another ride that was only okay. I sent DH and DD14 off to do RIP Ride Rocket while DD11 and I browsed the Universal store. They were done in under 15 minutes and thought it was a great coaster.

We headed back for another ride on Mummy but first grabbed some pretzels from Auntie Anne’s since we hadn’t had lunch. We finished with Minion Mayhem and left USF a little before 3 pm.

Had a nice swim at the hotel and will head back out shortly for dinner, hopefully at Cowfish. We plan to return to USF this evening and hit a few more rides.

It has been a great first day. We loved Diagon Alley. The Express Pass is awesome. Very little waiting in line at all although the park in general wasn’t too busy. Only a few rides had long lines.

I’ll continue this later. Off to dinner!


Hope you enjoy Cowfish. We really like it.

Ate dinner at Cowfish. Definitely recommend the bento boxes.

Unfortunately by the time we finished eating the sky was looking pretty grim. We decided it was safest to head back to our room. Good choice since we are now experiencing a thunderstorm! Hopefully all will be clear by morning.


Looking forward to hearing all about your holiday, hope day 2 is even better

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This was a great tip. I just need to remember where I put our wands. They moved from the top of my son’s wardrobe to a safe place. Hmmmm.
Thank you for sharing your day. I look forward to the next episode.

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Great report!


It was a great tip! There were a ton of people in Ollivander’s and a long line, but the cast member told us to go right to the front and they took care of it right away. In and out in under five minutes!

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