Hail Mary for Universal Last Minute Trip Dec 24/25!

Hi everyone!! First off I have binge read everything on here I could find and TP in the last 24 hours so tried to piece it together on my own but can’t! Knowing how fabulous y’all are I’m tapping the mat for help!

Booked a last minute Universal visit for Dec 24/25th. Yep tomorrow. Yep Christmas. Yep we are crazy. :rofl:. DS16 said a couple days ago that he really wanted to ride Velocicoaster and would “ride anything in the park” which he NEVER says so since we were visiting the grandparents in FL only a couple hours away we called his bluff and booked! :rofl:

Group of 7 - DH41, me 41, Grandma 66 but super fun and loves HP but has been to USF already not IOA, au pair 25, DS16, DD13, DD11 last four all still hooked on HP. Hubs and I hadn’t seen a single HP movie until two days ago and now are on movie 6 I think I’ve lost track (pray for us). DH and I last went to Universal shortly before HP opened whenever that was a million years ago. The rest have never been. DH Marvel obsessed and passed that down to the girls.

I am totally insane and booked a presidential suite (only room available) at RP for night of the 24th and booked an AirBNB super close by for tonight. Current plan is wake up early, head to RP and “check in” and drop bags and get keys for express unlimited and early access and head to IOA because it supposedly will be less crowded on 24th and then early access for USF on 25th and drive home evening on 25th exhausted. :rofl:

Here’s where I am stuck so far (and I’m happy to gather any intel y’all want or send pics or live trip report or whatever you want in return!!).

What time should we try and be at RP to “check in” for an early access day on 24th (park open 8am)? 6am? 630am?

Once checked in, how should we get to IOA from RP (walk/bus/water taxi etc)?

Kids will likely want wands (pray for me again). I’ve read up and heard do it for EE, do it at the end (though I’m sure they will want to use it) and get timeslot reservation near park opening for later in the day. Thoughts?

I’m assuming it’s going to be stupid busy so plan is to expect that and take advantage of early access and unlimited express to tour until it becomes unbearable and then take a break (would be awesome if suite was available early to hang in! - a girl can dream…) and return for the later hours but probably need to have a plan for lunch and dinner options either way and no reservations are available though I’m happy to keep trying - any recommendations on which to try and how to get them other than just trying online all the time?

We haven’t done a park without a full plan in……can’t remember but I’m hearing you can do that more in Universal especially with express unlimited so praying that is true. Other than the headliners that I’ve penciled down are there any shows or do not miss experiences you’d recommend based on our group?

I saw Universal just announced masks effective the 24th and that’s our day one so will see how that goes and report back for sure. Any other restrictions we should be aware of/prepare for?

I’ve downloaded app and have been told to look for virtual queue for Hagrids so will do that and early entry for Hagrids and Velocicoaster. Possible dumb question but do we need/want a wand in IOA or is that just USF? If so, better to flip days and do USF first then IOA on 25th?

I’ve read about lockers, stumped on what to do there. Grandma isn’t going to ride any big coasters so we could hand her everything I guess or wait to get wands later or just throw everything in a paid locker though it would make it hard to live trip report in park without a phone…tips?

I think I can….I think I can….


Crap one more - I’ve seen people reference things you can do to get selected at Ollivanders but nobody says what to do and it might not matter if they are doing private groups again but if anyone can clue me in there would also much appreciate that!

I can’t answer all the questions because I’ve never been there on an incredibly busy day. But I can take a few. It’s a pretty short walk from RP to IOA as long as everyone has the legs for it. That would be my choice. DS loves the wands and we go early in the day (but after Hagrid’s or Velocicoaster where express pass won’t help you). They have places to use your wand in both IOA and US.

We were there 2 weeks ago and our favorite shows were the Bourne Stuntacular (so much better than we even anticipated!) and the Grinchmas was fun. The only restriction I would mention is if you head up to Hogwarts for the nighttime light show, it’s one way at that time. We did Velocicoaster and wanted to head up to Hogwarts but halfway there, we were forced to turn around and head over towards Mythos to get up to Hogwarts. It was confusing.

I don’t actually find the lockers to be a big deal (but again, we don’t go during busy times). Definitely have Grandma hold them on any rides she isn’t going on, it makes it so much easier. Remember absolutely nothing in pockets for the big coasters - I swear DS screws this up at least once a trip.

Have a fabulous time! We loved Christmas at Universal!

Wand Ceremony:

Things might be entirely different on a super-busy day. For example, they might just select the kid nearest the front. Although, probably good to be near the front anyway.

One side supposed select only kids, and the other occasionally selects adults. I don’t remember which was which.

The thing to remember is that they want a good show. So, they’ll select a kid that will. They want someone excited and that doesn’t mumble (think game show participants) So, I coached my daughter to speak clearly and a bit on the loud side while we were in line. I figured it couldn’t hurt if they knew we were buying, so the topic of conversation was what she hoped the core of the wand that picked her would be. I also figured it wouldn’t hurt if they knew we were fans who bought stuff. DH wore his Jedi Robe (homeschooled wizard), DD wore her handmade HP robe, and I was forced to buy one (ran out of time). I also heard that they are more likely to pick a kid around the right age for their first wand.

But, considering how busy it will be, I’d prepare my kids to pick their own wands.

This is super helpful thank you so much!

Agree. Easy, short walk.

Agree. An unexpected highlight. If you use an EP you will be in the front at the pre-show. This is bad for two reasons. First, you can’t see the pre-show without craning your neck. Second, you will be the first into the theatre and pressured into sitting at the far end of it. They say all the seats are great, but I’d still rather be central.


This alone sounds amazing!!!

If park opens for EE at 8, I’d want to be checked in by 7am at the latest.
My family and I love the walk from RPR to the parks.

Yes, wands work in both parks.
If you’re getting your wands on the first day, bring them back and do spells during EE the next day.

You’re going to have a blast!

1 Like

We are going to need to see many photographs of this. Many.


I think we checked in to RPR at 6 for 7am early entry. by the time we got checked in and bags to bell services, we were able to walk to IOA, be first in line at security and at the turnstiles. I think we did have to wait a few minutes for them to open the security area.


Awesome thanks ok so should we stick with IOA tomorrow and USF Saturday? At IOA what should we hit in early access hours in what order? Sounds like Hagrids, Velocicoaster and Ollivander’s but in that order? I haven’t even looked at a map yet. :grimacing:. @bebe80 got a pocket trip plan from a recent trip? :pray:t2:

1 Like

Of course sure thing! Not sure if this will work but I took this screenshot off the site when booking:


1 Like

Hey! :wave:

On CL10 days? :grimacing: I don’t think I have a plan for that! :man_shrugging:

You’ve got Express, so have a blast!

1 Like

Three toilets!!! :exploding_head::exploding_head::exploding_head:

Where does this door lead…???

Adjoining suite??!!!

As I suspected: plenty of room for me. I’m just trying to find a suitable flight and then I’ll PM you the details. I assume you can pick me up at the airport.

I think they’ve been scammed. That room doesn’t seem to connect to the main suite at all. I think it’s just a regular room, tacked on. I’ll probably stay in that one.

1 Like

Yes it’s a presidential suite plus 2 queen room since we’ve got 7. They also had one that was plus two rooms. Was just trying to get something at one of the premier hotels for EP and EE.

1 Like

It opens to a ten story drop and instant death. We will tread carefully. :rofl:

1 Like

@Bubblez @PrincipalTinker @Ryan1 anything I can report back for y’all?


Have fun! Will you try to go to the Grinchmas Show? If you do will you try to see if they have an express line?

1 Like

No idea don’t even have a TP or list for tomorrow morning yet working on that right now - do you suggest we add that? Either way I’ll see what I can find out…

1 Like

It is a fun show!

1 Like