Help me plan a commando strike HHN+WWHP trip

My wife loves Harry Potter and Halloween, so I’m trying to plan a surprise visit to UOR next October for our anniversary.

There are a few details I’m fuzzy on and hoping the good people here can help out.

Objectives, in order of priority:

  1. Minimize burden on grandparents who will be watching the kids here in Ohio while we jet off to Florida
  2. See everything worth seeing related to Harry Potter
  3. Experience at least a taste of HHN

Candidate plan #1:

  1. Drop kids at school on a Thursday and catch a nonstop flight around 9-10am, arriving around 1pm.
  2. Drop luggage at hotel and head immediately to the parks for a night of Harry Potter.
  3. Hit the park at rode drop on Friday and spend the day doing more Harry Potter. Catch HHN at night.
  4. Early morning flight on Saturday, arriving home around noon or 1pm. (Total burden on grandparents: pick up kids from school twice, take them to school once, one lazy Saturday morning watching TV)

Candidate plan #2:

  1. Same arrival as above
  2. Relax at hotel until HHN on Thursday night, and focus entirely on Halloween
  3. Rope drop the parks Friday morning and focus on Harry Potter the entire day
  4. Same return as above

My questions are:

  1. If we’re wheels down MCO at 1pm, what’s a realistic time to expect to be in the parks? 3pm?
  2. If we don’t have a “stay and scream” HHN ticket then do we have to leave both parks at 630, or are there things we can continue to do into the evening with a “normal park only” ticket?
  3. My wife loves Halloween, but really really loves Harry Potter. If I try and do both in this single visit are we going to have to skip any of the must-do HP stuff? If you were in my shoes would you trust Express Passes and a good touring plan, or would you visit after HHN ends to focus just on wizard stuff?

I guess my main stumbling block is figuring out exactly how much WWHP time we’d lose on account of HHN going on and whether or not the added HHN cost is worth it.

Thanks for any suggestions you have!

I suppose candidate plan #3 would be:

  1. Get kids settled and catch a late flight Wednesday night, arriving hotel around midnight.
  2. Hit the parks at opening on Thursday and stay through HHN at night
  3. Tour parks again Friday morning/early afternoon, fly home and arrive late Friday night

That would be a loooong day on Thursday and we might have to to hit the parks at open again on Friday, depending on the flight schedule.

I will be at UOR for my first time in two weeks so I am not really qualified to answer but option 3 does not sound like a good plan. 1 or 2 seem way more relaxing!

I think that a whole day doing the HP areas plus a night at HHNs when you can also see DA at night is a great plan. If you were also trying to do everything else the parks have to offer, I think that would be too much. I suppose that you can’t make your final plans until HHN dates for 2019 are released. Maybe you could use the HP vacation package and/or RIP tickets?

Will you plan on staying at a deluxe resort for the night to get express pass?

I would do #1 but revise it in this way: do the parks on arrival day and on day 2 sleep in. Arrive at the parks later that day and be inside in a coral before HHN.

That’s what I’m unclear on; if I do the parks on arrival day then I’m not starting until 3pm. If I don’t have a HHN ticket will I get kicked out at 630? Or can I still visit the non HHN areas?

Don’t they pretty much do every Thu-Sat in October?

I guess I am expecting you to have a park hopper? You will only have a couple of hours in Universal Studios, but then you can hop over to Islands of Adventure for the last three ours or so. Or enter the parks and do HHN on Thursday. You want to start the night inside the park with a day ticket unless you are doing some type of VIP tour. I would still suggest a HHN express pass if you are not doing a tour.

That may be the information I was missing. Does HHN happen in both parks or just US, leaving IoA open?

I tried doing some web searches and I was unable to find a definitive answer. I’m sure it exists, but I’m not yet knowledgeable enough to run an effective search :slight_smile:

HHN is only in Universal Suduos. Islands will be open until 8 or 8:30 usually. You will want park hoppers to do the train both ways.

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I wouldn’t buy park to park tickets for this short a trip. Maybe focus on IOA WWoHP stuff on arrival day. The next day the Studios, leave around three for a rest. Then attend HHN using the RIP tour ticket. Special entrance and no need to fight the crowds or sitting idle in a holding area. Our tour started at 7:30 and we had plenty of time left to wander the scarezones and soak up the atmosphere.

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I need park-to-park in order to experience Hogwart’s Express, right? Even though it isn’t really a headliner attraction, I think she’d be bummed if we didn’t include it. If cost becomes an issue I think I’d rather just cut out HHN than cutting out any part of WWoHP.

Yes, if it’s something she wants to experience you’ll need ptp Tix.

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BTW it sounds like a lovely surprise!:clap::clap::clap:

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We just got back from a quick 2-day visit to WDW (our first ever) and we’re starting to plan a longer trip for May 2020. She keeps mentioning how if we go back, we need to include at least 1 day at Universal Orlando so that she can do Harry Potter. “I don’t care what the rest of you do that day, but there will be wands and stuff for me!”

The challenge is that we’ll probably need to make some concrete plans re: May 2020 before we take this surprise trip next fall. So either I need to crush her dreams and tell her we just can’t do UOR in 2020, or I need to plan a trip that doesn’t include UOR, while making her think it does. But the latter is tough because we won’t truly have time for WDW + UOR, and I’ll have to find some way to defend against her requests to add an extra day without saying “we can’t afford that because I secretly spent a big chunk of the vacation budget to take you to UOR by surprise instead”.

And if I make her think we’re going to do UOR in 2020 then she’ll start doing WWoHP research, which until now she’s avoided because she didn’t want to get excited and not have any way to go. I kind of want her to not do any research so that every step of the trip is a total surprise.

I’m trying to thread that needle between “a tiny bit of disappointment that pays off in a huge amazing surprise” and “crushing my wife’s dreams and making her hate me for the next 11 months until she realizes what I was planning”.

What could possibly go wrong, right?

That is a long penance!:fearful:

I can’t speak to HHN. We wouldn’t care to do that.

But based on your options, I’d lean toward option 1. It gives you night time at WWHP, as well as rope drop there. This also means if you get through stuff on Friday (because you probably don’t need a full day HP unless you take it all in VERY SLOWLY) you can head over to the rest of either of the parks to add in some other things.

(Maybe we’ll bump into each other during your May 2020 trip, depending on when you go…we’re planning WDW the week of Mother’s Day, and the following week, Monday and Tuesday, hitting Universal.)

In effort to avoid 11 months of hatred, could you still reveal the trip as a surprise but much sooner? Then your wife can have some of the fun of researching and giving input into planning as well.

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I’d definitely do PtP so that you can do Hogwart’s Express. It also means you can spread your visit across the two days much more fluidly, rather than trying to fit one park one day, and one the other. The experience of immersing yourself in HP would be kind of lost without it.

Agree you definitely want PtP and (because my vote means so much) I vote as @PrincipalTinker suggested and do the option 1 with modified sleep in a bit on the second day.

Yes, that’s certainly the fallback plan if things go sideways!

I think it would be tons of fun to tell her nothing in advance and tell her at the airport. I even considered trying to get her onto the plane without telling her where we’re going, perhaps by blindfolding her or having her wear earphones at the gate or something. I’m not sure that’s workable, although it would be super awesome to keep it a surprise until we’re wheels down MCO and just an hour or two away.

But I’m not going to sacrifice marital stability at the altar of “it would be nice if” :slight_smile: