Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure vs Early Park Admission


We are planning our first Universal vacation for December, We will be staying on Hard Rock Hotel or Royal Pacific Resort. We already purchased a 5 days park to park tickets and will start using them on Monday 16 to Friday 20, in what should be a very busy time. We don’t mind showing up at 6:00 am to beat the crowds.

We want to do Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure at least one time per day during those 5 days, So what should the strategy be?

1- Ignore our early park admission hour that comes by staying at the hotel, since we have the unlimited express pass, and try to be the first every morning at the gates of Island of Adventure, so we can ride the Hagrid and start our day that way?

2- Do early park admission at Universal Studios and wait till the queue are lower during the day or night and try to do the Hagrid?

We were told that Universal could change the early park admission at any point to Island of Adventure. So we booked both hotels and are planning to keep them both until we are around a month away, in case we decide to go with strategy number two, we can be staying at the hotel that is closer to the park with the early park admission at that time.

We are discarding using the boats to arrive at the parks because we want to beat the crowds. So walking will be our approach.

So far this is what we know. So please correct me if I got something wrong.

There are 3 security checkpoints that start letting people through at 6:30 am:

  • City walk for the people that are driving in, or are being driven on a bus from the other hotels.
  • The bridge right before island of adventure, where the walking path ends for the guests at the Royal Pacific Resort and other guests from the other Universal’s hotels that shared the same walking path.
  • Right beside the entrance of Universal Studios for guests from the Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay.

So in case we go for strategy number one. We will be staying at the Royal Pacific Resort, because even though RPR and HRH are about the same distance to IOA, RPR security checkpoint is right beside IOA and therefore should be the first crowds to arrive at IOA.

Maybe there is a 3rd strategy I haven’t thought of.

Sorry for the long post but I’m so confused with all of these and I hope you guys can help me come up with the best strategy.

Thanks a lot


Have you checked out this thread?:

@dunegirl has been doing a weekly analysis identifying the best times to get in the queue. Based on that, I’d do a mix of 1 and 2, but it’s probably too early to say what it’ll be like in December. If the rope drop melee has calmed down by December then going first thing in the morning is probably your safest bet. But maybe by then there will be some consistent times in the afternoon/evening with shorter waits and the second approach will work.

I’m guessing that they won’t change the park with early entry until they’ve worked out the technical difficulties more, or if they did you might not be able to count on the ride being available when the park opens. If daily Hagrid rides are your priority, though, staying at RPR seems like it would be a bit easier.


I’d very much agree with @Steenaca on this. A lot of the afternoon downtime the ride has been seeing so far is weather-related. Which means that the pattern in wait times could well shift once we get out of the summer/early fall storm season in Orlando.

For now, I would probably switch between your strategies 1 & 2 on different days. If you’re here for Hagrid’s I’d guess you are HP fans—in which case you will want some EE time in Diagon Alley for spells or just looking in the shops before it gets crazy.


For what it’s worth, my family also has 5 days planned starting this Sunday (first and last day are part days) and we’re definitely using at least 1 day of early admission at USF for the Diagon Alley stuff. We’re not counting on riding Hagrid’s at all, but I’m watching the weather forecasts already and keeping various options in mind.

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Thanks Steenaca,

So ignore the early park admission and just try to be one of the first at the IOA every day? If this is the case I was planning that after Hagrid, do as many rides in the morning using the unlimited express pass at both parks, then around lunch time go back to the hotel with the family, take a nap and go back on the afternoon to do the more rides, that should guarantee that the kids are rested enough to go back to the park do some more ride and maybe see the nighttime lights shows.

Our kids are 8 and 11 but we do all the big rollercoasters at Canada’s Wonderland, so I don’t think they will have any issues with what Universal has to offer.

That’s roughly our plan too – I don’t think anyone will nap but having some chill out time in the afternoons to allow us to keep going in the evening. Your weather in December should be a lot better, too, so the afternoon break might not be necessary.

My 7yo is too short (52 inches) for some of Canada’s Wonderland rides and has no interest in going upside down, backwards, or on steep drops, so we’ll definitely be using the child swap at some of Universal. My 11yo will do anything (he happily did the Bat through the single rider line on our first CW visit) though.

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Thanks dunegirl,

I’m not a harry potter fun, and my kids are barely into it. I just heard so much about this coaster that we don’t want to pass the chance to do all the rides we like at least once a day. Otherwise I feel we are not taking advantage of what the park has to offer.

But I agree with what you and Steenaca are saying. Do Hagrid in the morning, maybe skip one of the 5 days and do Diagon Alley stuff, so there are less people on those tiny stores and then when the crowds come in go back to the rides.

I guess if this is the case we will be statying at RPR, the only reason I guess it will be worth it staying at the HRH is that if they add by december express pass for Hagrid and then I could do the magic hour every morning at Universal and take the train at 9 am to do Hagrid with the express pass.

What are the chances of Hagrid having express pass by December?

Ha, ha, ha we are on the same boat, my daughter is not 54" yet, but we discovered two weeks ago that if she wears some shoes she has called wheelies, she can reach 54" ;). She is so happy now because she is riding all the tall rollercoasters and she is the one that enjoy it the most from all of us lol. There is not a safety issues because she is pretty close.

Once we discovered the wheelies shoes trick, we booked Universal because we know that even if she doesn’t reach 54" by December the wheelies will come to the rescue, she only needs it to reach the HULK’s height limitation.

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It took over a year for the other Potter rides to get express pass, so I’d be surprised if Hagrid’s has it by December. Especially given the operational issues it’s had thus far.

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dunegirl I just took a look at your graph and is amazing that you collected so much data! Thanks for such a great work!

Can you please verify that this is how the crowds enter the park?

There are 3 security checkpoints that start letting people through at 6:30 am:

  • City walk for the people that are driving in, or are being driven on a bus from the other hotels.
  • The bridge right before island of adventure, where the walking path ends for the guests at the Royal Pacific Resort and other guests from the other Universal’s hotels that shared the same walking path.
  • Right beside the entrance of Universal Studios for guests from the Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay.

So since the security checkpoint for RPR is right beside the bridge before IOA, guests standing at that checkpoint should be able to reach IOA before any other crowd, right?.

Thank you, but all the data is courtesy of our friends at Touring Plans here! So it’s really all credit to them!

And my upcoming trip is December will be my first time staying on-site at Universal so sadly I can’t answer your security question. Hopefully someone with more experience can help out!


If no one else chimes in, I’ll be there in less than a week (exactly a week from now we’ll be moving from Cabana Bay to RPR, we have2 nights at each) and will let you know what we see for the security process on our early mornings.

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Thanks a lot Steenaca, I’ll truly appreciate that. Btw my boy is 11 as well and as yours he loves rollercoasters, so yours probably is going to have a lot of fun.

About the security checkpoints, when you come back I have two questions.

A what time do they let people through?

And do every security checkpoint let people through at the same time, therefore people waiting at the end of the RPR’s path right before the bridge, will always get to the IOA before anyone else?

Enjoy your vacation!

I might be misunderstanding your question, and I apologize if I am, but I don’t feel that there is going to be that significant of a difference between people entering via the HRH checkpoint and people entering via the RPR checkpoint. The two parks themselves are a five-minute walk between them, shorter if you’re walking quickly. The HRH checkpoint drops you right by the entrance to USF, whereas the RPR checkpoint drops you further back in City Walk. You might want to try to look at a map for a better visual understanding. At this point, I would pick the hotel that you like best and stay there regardless. I don’t think that there will be much of a difference at all for arrival times at IOA from one checkpoint to the other.


Thanks for the reply rebeecky,

I agree we are talking about only 5 minutes away between crowds. I have been looking at the area through Google map for a while.

Unless I’m used to the Disney’s crowds from last Christmas, which may be more dense than the universal’s equivalent. But my goal is to be around the first people to do the Hagrids so I don’t have to waste my vacation waiting in a queue, so my calculations are that if my crowd can be just a few minutes ahead to the gates than the other crowds, that could translate from half a hour to an hour less wait time in the actual ride queue.

We went to our first Disney trip last year during Christmas week, and we didn’t wait in line for more than 20 minutes, and did our favourites rides at least twice, including flight of passage.

We accomplished this with the strategy of virtually being the first at every park we went to (I got pictures to prove it) and going to each park based on them having an early magic hour that day plus our fast passes. We were staying at a Disney’s hotel with free transportation to the parks but we took Uber to every park and were there before the hotel busses, so we virtually did a one long early queue outside of the park, and that opened every ride for us without waiting lines. So even during extra magic hour we were ahead of the crowds going from ride to ride. The kids loved it!.

At Disney we did two days for magic kingdom, two for Epcot and one for the others.

Sorry for the long reply but that is what I’m trying to accomplish at these two Universal’s parks, I know early extra hour is pretty limited at universal, because there is only one park open at the time and barely any ride is open, plus we will have Express Pass Unlimited and 5 days to do it all, but this Hagrids ride is a puzzle I need solve before getting on with the day at the parks.

If it wasn’t for Hagrids I think we may wake up a bit early for the early park entry once or twice, but sleep in every other day.

Actually, I’m wondering if you will arrive at essentially the same time whether you enter through the RPR walkway or the HRH walkway. In the case of RPR, your walking will be done through City Walk to the IOA entrance. In the case of HRH, your walk will be between USF and the IOA entrance. I feel like there’s going to be very little difference in the time that you would arrive at IOA no matter which path you take. I would never say that those five minutes wouldn’t make a big difference, I just don’t think there’s going to be a five-minute difference. Does that make sense?

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I gotcha! I thought the checkpoint was further back. My last two trips I was on the HRH side, so my memory must be shoddy. Sorry for the confusion!

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Thanks for your help, I have never been there. I have been in this forum only for for a few days and I already have learned a lot.

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Hahaha, I am laughing at my former self. The earliest we got there was around 9:05 to Islands of Adventure and our only other earlyish start was a 9:30 arrival at the USF side. My normally early rising husband and kids said they wanted the short waits of rope drop, but they like being able to sleep in on vacation more. For the 3 days we had express passes, though, it didn’t really matter anyway, and we did get a relatively quieter Diagon Alley around 9:45. Express pass is great.

For the park entry, we did do all the main entry routes – boat from Royal Pacific, walkway from there, and the main bag check/security screening by the parking garage/shuttle bus drop off area. The walkway security checkpoint was very quick but the others were quick too.

The main bottleneck later in the day is the actual park gate. I’m guessing that even at rope drop it doesn’t really matter which place you get through the metal detectors and bag check unless they synchronize watches and start the bag checks at exactly the same time.

The walk from the boat landing (security screening happens at the resort dock before you get in line for the boat) might be 30 seconds longer than from the walkway screening point, but both are a solid minute or two walk to the actual entrance – it’s a lot more spread out than at Disney where the gate at each park is in sight of the bag check/metal detectors. If you think your family will like Hard Rock more, I don’t think Royal Pacific gives you more of an advantage. We liked Royal Pacific but we all preferred Cabana Bay other than the lack of included Express Pass.


Thanks a lot Steenaca for the detailed info!

Based on the fact that it seems that the Hagrids can be ride in around one hour even though is posted 120 min, and I hope it should be even better by December, we may just sleep in like your family did. That would be amazing in contrasts with Disney lol.

I think we will stay at the Royal Pacific, it seems like a more lay back hotel and knowing us we may “rope drop” for Hagrids around 8am which is not really rope dropping for us, when I said “sleep in” before I’m talking 7am, our kids are up by 7 not matter what :slight_smile:

We are already adding two more parks after the Clearwater Beach 5 days stay, Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, the wife is not so thrill about it, because it will required rop dropping, the parks open at 10:00am but the drive from the hotel is the same as driving from Orlando, that is crazy lol. I read that the parking lots at Busch Gardens start to fill up by 9am. So to get preferred parking we have to be there around 8am, accordingly to google maps in the day we are going, we have to leave the hotel by 6:40 am.

The Quick Queue for Busch Gardens for us 4 will be over $400, not sure that I want to pay that for one day, but the kids are supper excited about the thrill of riding so many rollercoasters.

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