Planning first universal trip

Looking for some insight and great tips.

We are arriving May 19th and have 4 day park to park passes 20-23. Staying at Cabana Bay with my son who is 13. We are huge Harry Potter fans and wondered if there was an order to start the parks for the best experience?

The reviews of Volcano Bay are very mixed…any suggestions on best time to go and things to avoid?

I suggest Diagon Alley first, then ride Hogwarts’ express over to Hogsmeade. Make sure to take the time to look around outside of Diagon Alley before you enter the tube station to see Creature in the window. The way you enter Diagon Alley is so much more immersive than entering Hogsmeade. I would suggest spending at least one entire day doing nothing up Harry Potter. Then spend your other days doing the rest.

I had tickets to Volcano Bay in July, but chose not to go because it was still extremely crowded and they were still working out kinks with the virtual line system. The park was reaching capacity by 10 am on average, so we said nevermind and spent an extra day at UOR/IOA. I would check around/ask around to see if you can find out if the park is still reaching capacity and what time they are cutting off entry if so. FYI, if you have a reservation for a cabana or the chairs that you can reserve, they will let you in the park even if they have reached capacity. That’s a way to guarantee entry. However, you may be dealing a terrible crowd.

There are some excellent rides beyond the Harrry Potter stuff. The Hulk coaster is awesome and the Spiderman ride is as well. If you are a Jimmy Fallon fan, his ride is great. If you don’t watch his show, it’s not going to be much. You won’t get the show references. We are and it was hilarious. We got so excited as we exited because #Hashtag came out. I was just as excited to see #Hashtag as I was any of the princesses at Disney. :grin:


I second this. This is what we did in February. We, too, did four days at Universal. (We didn’t do Volcano Bay.) Day one was dedicated to all things Harry Potter. Even without the Express Pass, we got through everything and was done by 3:00.

Note that even when the rest of IOA or US are relatively light, the crowds in HP can become overwhelming around lunch time or so, so it is best to do it early. For us, once it was so crowded, we decided to leave for the day…although you might, instead, choose to head out of HP and do some of the other attractions instead.

We then dedicated Days 2 and 3 to the rest of the parks (one day dedicated to each). Day 4, we went back and just hit our highlights, including revisiting some of the HP rides. On each day, we were done by 3:00, but February isn’t as busy, so you might need more time.


will you have express passes? If not, I think you should start 2 days in each park. Besides the HP stuff, the other important things to do 1st thing are Minions and hulk/Spider-Man/kong.

another note, I actually really enjoyed the Jimmy Fallon ride even though I’ve never seen the show.

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I’m glad to hear you liked Jimmy Fallon because I’ve heard otherwise from people who weren’t familiar with his characters. I love it and don’t want it to go away anytime soon.

I would recommend doing Hogsmede first just because it’s much smaller and I wasn’t as wowed as I was with Diagon Alley. Once you see DA, you may be a bit underwhelmed by Hogsmeade. either way you can’t go wrong. Both are incredible. Lines for Gringott’s are almost non existent in the last few minutes before park closing so if you want a quick last ride, that’s the right time to go!

True — except that that side also has Hogwart’s castle!

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Agreed! While Diagon Alley is way better than Hogsmeade, Forbidden Journey is the best ride ever, anywhere, IMHO. And the line is amazing! So it all balances out in the end.

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I mean.



I know. You and I agree on literally nothing. It’s okay. I’ve accepted that you are the yin to my yang. :slight_smile:

Hey. That’s not true! We both like to post on Touring Plans Forums. :slight_smile:

Mostly I’m just surprised, though. Forbidden Journey is a fine ride. I’d even call it fun. And even might see how one might call it is the best ride ever at Universal (though I’d personally put The Mummy, Kong, and RRR ahead of it). But the best ride ever, anywhere?

I mean, I can rattle off scores of rides elsewhere that are better. Which leads me to TRULY wonder what about the ride attracts you so much. (That isn’t a jab…but a serious question.)

I love Harry Potter. It is literally my favorite franchise anywhere. Going on Forbidden Journey the first time, I was in awe with the ride technology itself, how seamlessly it transitioned from the screens to the animatronics, and just how much fun it was. I got off of the ride totally impressed and in love. I adore other rides in Universal as well, and I am a huge roller coaster buff and enjoy many coasters at places such as Six Flags and Cedar Point, but none of them gave me the warm, fuzzy, awe-inspiring feeling I got my first time on Forbidden Journey. It wasn’t for the “thrill”. If I want that, I’ll do Hulk or Goliath at Six Flags. It’s all for the warm fuzzies.

Okay. I got it. That makes sense to me. :slight_smile:

I get those warm fuzzies on Millennium Force.

We are huge Harry Potter fans as well, so we have that in common (something we do NOT disagree on). I’ve read through the entire series twice, listened to the entire series twice (Jim Dale is an awesome narrator), and we’ve watched the movies umpteen times now. Harry Potter fandom is pretty much the only reason we ever went to Universal Studios to begin with. :slight_smile:

I do love Millennium Force as well. It is an amazing ride. That’s three things now. :slight_smile: