First visit, one day at USF/IOA - Where to start?

We’re spending a day at Universal in April. It’s me, my husband, and two teen daughters. It will be our first time at Universal. I have two park/one day pass and will have express unlimited pass. We like thrill rides so want to focus on those and also explore HP areas, although I don’t think we’ll be doing any wand magic.

I’ve heard that it’s best to go to Diagon Alley in the morning when crowds are low. So wondering if we should head there first, and maybe try Hagrid’s late morning. We’re staying on site but checking in that morning we’re going to the parks, and realistically I don’t think our family will be there early enough to take part in the early morning hour, so that’s why I’m thinking of not starting at IOA.

Crowd levels are showing as 4/5 on the day we’ll be there. Any thoughts on a plan for hitting the highlights in one day?

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Welcome to the forum! :grin: If it’s only a 4/5 crowd level and you have Express Pass you should be able to hit pretty much everything in one day. Hagrid’s will likely be your only long wait unless there are ride closures.

We like to do everything we want in one park before Hogwarts Expressing over to the other. IOA always seems to take way less time for us. It just feels more compact. I would pick out your must dos and knock them out first then see how much time you have for other attractions.

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Yes, and it’s extra special for first timers. You can get family photos with not much interference, explore, and maybe get some Butterbeer/snack at Leaky Cauldron. Try to be at the USF gates by 8:30 for a 9:00am open.

You don’t have to target Hagrid’s for late morning. With moderate CL’s, actual waits are pretty consistently 45-60 minutes for the majority of the day. Afternoon seems to be as similar as late morning, as far as wait times go. Even when posted waits jump all around, actual waits do not change that much.

April hours will be released at the end of this month. If one park closes earlier than the other, you may have to adjust plans.

Suggested Plan
  1. Diagon Alley/Gingott’s/Knockturn Alley/shops/Knight Bus/etc.
  2. The Mummy
  3. Transformers
  4. Rip Ride Rockit

Leave USF, walk to IOA (option for a CityWalk lunch)

  1. Hulk
  2. Spider-man
  3. Kong
  4. JP River
  5. VelociCoaster
  6. Forbidden Journey
  7. Hagrid’s

Take the Hogwart’s Express back to USF

  1. Men in Black
  2. The Simpsons
  3. E.T.

Helpful locker info:

Locker Use at Attractions
  • If you have a bag, locker use is required at certain attractions. Small lockers are free but large lockers (regular size backpack) are not free.

  • These types of bags will fit into the small lockers: Mini backpack, drawstring bag, or sling bag.

  • Near an attraction entrance, find the locker bank, scan your ticket, and look for a locker to pop open.

  • These attractions you may not take any type of bag or purse on:

    • USF:Revenge of the Mummy, Escape from Gringotts, Men in Black Alien Attack
    • IOA: Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure
    • Cargo pants pockets that can be closed and fanny packs (3-prong closure) are permitted for holding items.
    • You may see a “No Loose Items” sign. It is not enforced, you can still take your phone, etc.
  • These attractions you may not take a bag or any loose items on:

    • USF: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
    • IOA: Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic World VelociCoaster* (*lockers are inside queue)
    • No phones, coins, wallets, etc. are allowed on (metal detectors used)
  • NOTE: You must take your ticket with you on the attraction, so you can retrieve your belongings afterward.