Following the bad news of Forbidden Journey closing Dec 1st, I wrote an email to Universal Customer Service, to see if the ride will be open on Nov 30th, unsure if we could change our travel plans to get there earlier to see the castle and ride FJ. (I've been before, and I'm driving from SC, so my plans can be more flexible. Although 3 of my family are flying in the late afternoon of Nov 30.) An agent phoned me and offered to upgrade our 3 day passes to 4 days, so we could try this evening mad dash to Hogwarts scheme.
The rest of the story is that 3 family members are flying in from Arizona. So while I can get there a day earlier, and enjoy the castle and ride most of Nov 30 with my 2 daughters, my family doesn't arrive until 4:30, and the IoA park closes at 6pm Nov 30.
Here are the details, and what I've been thinking. I'd appreciate any ideas or thoughts. I'd like to TRY, but I know that flight delays, traffic, etc might make this whole Amazing Race from MCO to Hogwarts a bust!
American Flight 567 PHX to MCO
9:59 MST to 4:28 EST
according to flightaware.com, the 7 day average arrival for this flight is: 3:44 EST.
The range of arrival times listed ranges from 3:41 to 4:23, so I'm not sure that average is correct!
I was thinking to leave the entrance to FJ around 2:30 pm to go to the airport.
Timing how long it takes me to walk to the valet parking, vs. my car which will be in the parking garage.
Any guesses on those walking times? Parking Garage to turnstiles vs. valet parking to turnstiles?
Also the walking time from turnstiles to FJ?
When I do a touring plan with FJ as the first ride, it seems to estimate arrival to that ride at: 12 min, 15 min, 19 min, 29 min when I choose the different walking speeds. I assume that's from turnstiles to castle. I'm a fast walker, but Grandma will be with me on this amazing race! Maybe I'll send the others ahead, and I'll stay with her walking at her speed.
Google maps is giving me 18-24 minute estimate from parking garage to airport, although that was at the 3:30 timeslot.
I don't really remember the Orlando airport from the one time I was there in 2007. How long is it going to take to get from an American gate to the curb? They will be traveling with carryons, so hopefully none of those will be gatechecked and sent to baggage claim! Now that I"m thinking about it, most large carryons tend to get gate checked... this could be the death of the plan....
On the return drive, I"m getting an estimate of 20-35 minutes depending on the time, since there's more traffic during rush hour.
2:30 leave Hogwarts, walk to parking garage: 30 minutes?
3 drive to MCO, 30 minutes?
3:30 arrive to airport. Cell phone lot?
3:45 to 4:30 American Flight 567 arrives from PHX
4:15 to 5 meet at curb. (or 5:30 if the gate check baggage claim problem happens... in this case, we'll calm down and just take it easy! Although I suppose I'll know by noon if the bags have been gate checked in which case I can be more calm about the whole airport run!)
20 to 35 min drive to Universal Parking. Valet? or Garage?
walk/run to Hogwarts. 30 minutes? I've instructed them to bring no bags!
6pm IoA closes.
If we get to the ride entrance by 6, will they let us ride?
US side is open til 7, so we can go enjoy a little time at Diagon Alley should we fail to make it to Hogwarts, before heading to the resort to decompress from our Amazing Race.
Maybe I could start an email campaign to get them to stay open later on Nov 30?
If anyone has ideas or thoughts on which route to take to/from the airport, or if I should plan to use the valet parking, (How much walking time would it save? or anything at all that might assist in this mad scheme, I'd appreciate any input! Or you can caution me that this is TOO crazy, or reassure me that it's worth trying!
I know this is crazy, and I know after all this it might not even succeed, but I'd really like to try, because my family has never been here, and this could be the only chance they have. Thank you!