Early entry strategy based on park-USF vs IOA?

We were at WWOHP early in May and loved it. We may be back in early fall.
When we were there, early entry for hotel guests was only at USF, but starting late summer, it seems like they are alternating.

  1. What would your touring strategy be for early entry in IOA (Hogsmeade) vs USF (Diagon Alley)?

When we were there, it was easy to prioritize Ollivander’s (my son got chosen!) and exploring/wands for a while, then ride Gringotts. (Thank you @rebeecky for your idea about this in previous posts!)
Now that Hogsmeade will have FJ, FoH and Hagrid’s ride, how would you prioritize your time during early entry? Just thinking about crowds in the area besides rides.

  1. What other rides are open during early entry?

WWOHP is basically the only thing open for whichever park has Early Park Admission

At USF they do open Despicable Me when it’s the early park.

At IOA, when it’s the early park, they’ll often have the Caro-Suess-el open - but not guaranteed.

So… if it’s early admission at IOA head to Hogsmeade and jump on Hagrid and as many of the rest as you can in that hour.

At USF, if you haven’t done DM - definitely check it out. It’s pretty fun. Also, it has a queue that never goes down. Hop on that and then go on down to WWHOP and get on Gringott’s and / or start doing wand spots before they get too busy.


I could be wrong, but I thought that Early Park Admission was usually only for one park or the other (usually Universal Studios)–meaning–you can’t get on the Hogwarts Express to IOA until 9 am. Is it presently running differently than that?

This is true. The OP was stating, I believe, that they’d seen a schedule where IOA would be the early park on some days and USF on others. I agree that USF is usually the early park, but without knowing the OP travel dates, I just answered their ride specific questions.

1 Like

I’m so glad that strategy worked for you! If IOA has early entry, I would definitely go directly to Hagrid’s first thing. I think I would have to play it by ear after that, because I don’t know what time you will ultimately be getting off the ride, as I imagine the wait for Hagrid will be pretty long initially.


You are correct! Hogwarts Express doesn’t open until both parks are open. There are days in September (I think) where USF has early entry at 7am, then IOA has it at 8am, so I wonder/hope/think that you could ride HE starting at 8am.

I was making my notes from my trip, and noticed that starting in August, both parks are open with early admission for the rest of 2019 (possibly further, just didn’t check. :grinning: )


I have two theories… #1 - With the opening of SWGE, maybe, USF is hoping to get some overflow attendance with a large number of ppl visiting Orlando. Plus, HHN starts Sept. 6th so the parks will be closing early. Maybe this is a way to accommodate a potential attendance increase.

#2 - (My personal theory) USF hasn’t decided which park will be the opening park and has tentative hours for both parks. I’ve seen this plenty of time. Often USF doesn’t finalize their hours until about 30 - 45 days out.


Thank you. That helps a lot! I am wondering how long until Hagrid’s ends up having express Pass. :slightly_smiling_face:

Those both make sense. I think you’re right.

1 Like

In regards to Hagrid’s new ride, is the conventional wisdom on rope-dropping in WWHOP at IOA, to do Early Entry at USF, be on the first Hogwarts Express at 9 a.m., and you will beat the regular rope-drop crowd at IOA? I thought I read that in the Unofficial Guide book re: Forbidden Journey, but can’t quite remember.

1 Like

Yes. You should get there about the same time as the IOA RD people. It will take those people about 10 minutes to walk to the back of the park – unless they are speed walking. At least you’ll be in the initial pack to get to HMCMA.

Here’s how it works:

If you are at USF for early admission try to queue at Kings Cross about as close to 8:45am as possible. This is because other ppl here will have the same idea about boarding HE and will be waiting to enter the station. They will hold you are the turnstiles until right at 9am. Once they let you in you’ll have to take the long walk to the Platform and then wait to load. If you are near the front of the queue this will take probably 5 minutes. Then HE takes about 4 - 5 minutes just for the train ride. If you aren’t on the first train – don’t panic. IMO – as long as you are on trian #2 you’ll be there as the same time as the majority of the IOA RD people.

It’s still easier than leaving USF and walking around to IOA. I’ve done this when the HE queue is crazy long – 40+ minutes.

It takes me about 15 – 20 minutes to “speed walk” all the way from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley – including going through the entry gates again. (As long there isn’t a queue at entry)



I will say that often if a park is supposed to open at a certain time, it may open up to 15 or 20 minutes earlier. In that instance, the people who are lined up at the front of the line at IOA would get to Hagrid’s before the people taking HE over from USF. If I were hoping to get on Hagrid’s first thing, I would be in line early at IOA regardless of which park had early entry.