My family is mostly interested in the harry potter side of things. What are your suggestions to get the most out of the harry potter verse while at universal?
Make a bee line to HP as soon as possible. If you are staying on site - take advantage of the early entry.
Hit the big rides first - either escape from gringots or Forbitten Journey. If you get there early enough - you may be able to ride twice. Have your fastest walker get there first and put any backpacks into the lockers and then meet to all go in together. ALL items must be left in the lockers. They are well placed and free. REMEMBER YOUR LOCKER NUMBER AND COMBO!!!!!
Also get to olivander's early or very late - when crowds are less. The wand selecting ceremony is NOT a must do. But it is well done and fun - if the line isn't too long. The characters really do a very nice job.
Make sure that if you do get a wand - that you have fun using it.
Just enjoy hitting the different shops and taking it all in. The details are awesome.
When done with one side - just take Hogwart's Express to the other side. We rode it back and forth a few times.
On the Hogmead's side the Douling Dragons is a great rollercoaster - although not fully themed for HP. The flight of the hillogrith (sp) was well - lame. I suggest both if you have the Express Pass though. For the Douling Dragons - make you you get into the Express Lane right as you enter the castle. We missed it and waited, and waited and waited some more. So if you don't see daylight - you have gone too far and missed the EX PASS entrance.
However back to your original question. Hit HP first and stay until you are ready to go. Then hit the park ajasent to whatever side of HP you are on. We just worked our way around to the other attractions.
There is a great restaurant - MYTHOS - that I actually suggest. It is just outside of Hogsmead side. It is NOT HP - but good.
You MUST have the butter beer. The ice cream and the non-alcoholic drink versions are just as you would think them to taste.
Hope that helps.
If you are doing Ollivanders, do it at Diagon Alley, there are several rooms so the line goes much faster. The interactive wands are fun, though not cheap, but if you have a good amount of time to spend in the HP areas you will be very entertained.
The QS restaurants are good. The pumpkin juice isn't very nice (in my opinion). Butter beer is so good!
Make sure to do both sides of Dueling Dragons. Do the full queue for Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts at least once, but both have a single rider line that will save you a ton of time. On FJ you can't see the person you're sitting next to anyway.
Park hoppers are a must so you can ride the Hogwarts Express - it's different both ways.
Try to get a pic of the dragon on the roof of Gringotts breathing fire - you'll be able to tell because of the rumbling noises.
it does but how do you get express passes?
Express passes aren't very helpful for Harry Potter as they can only be used on Dragon Challenge (Duelling Dragons is the old name but still how I think of it) which usually has short lines, and Flight of the Hippogriff which we always skip. But they are great for the rest of the park. I personally wouldn't buy them, it's actually cheaper to stay onsite and get them included (not at Cabana Bay or Sapphire Falls) but lots of people do.
Agreed on all points. Plus staying at a Deluxe is just NICE!!!
well we are sorta doing a combined disney/universal trip. A day and a half universal and 3 at disney (MK, AK, and epcot). So we're at a disney resort. Do the buses still get to Universal from the disney resorts? For some reason I was thinking they did but wasn't sure if that had changed in the last 3-4 years.
Not to throw a kink in the works - but I'll throw out what worked well for us.
We were always WDW fans and anyone who went to US could not be purified enough to gain entry back to WDW. Well after doing US - our thoughts have completely changed.
However cutting to the chase.
If you were doing US for a day - I would think transportation back and forth would be ok. However as you are basically doing 2 days ( 1 1/2 days). I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend staying on site for the following
1 - CONVENIENCE - you will easily loose at least 2 hours each day in the back and forth.
2 - COST - the cost of transportation back and forth twice will add up
3 - RELAXATION - you will be able to relax a bit more without having to worry about going back and forth
4 - NEW EXPERIENCE. The hotels and the US resort as a whole is wonderful. I have stayed at many 4 and 5 star hotels and the Portafino rivals them all (i've even been to Protafino and this is actually nicer - HA)
If you are doing more than 1 day at US - I really suggest at least looking at staying on site.
I am sure you can take some sort of bus back and forth - but the hassle can't be worth it
You have gotten some great advice here, but I as a HUGE HP fan, I want to throw in a couple more things.
Be sure to spend some time in the parks in the dark (provided your trip is during a time when the parks are open in the dark). The areas have a much different feel and seeing the dragon breathe fire in the night sky is amazing!
While the wands are not necessary, by any means, if this is a one-time trip for you, you love HP and you can find the time, casting spells is quite fun. The wand selection show is cool, but is only a "must see" in my opinion, if you or someone you know is chosen for the show. And, of course, you don't know that until you get there, so it's a crap shoot. It is entertaining either way.
If you end up staying on site and do get EE, as strange as this will sound, I would avoid the park with EE UNLESS you can be at the front of the line. We went during heavy crowds in June/July and waited longer to ride FJ during EE than we did at any other time during our stay, presumably because everyone who had EE all went to that one ride at the same time. On the other hand, if you go to the park that does NOT have EE and can get in the front of the line, when the park opens, people will be scattering to various rides and you have a better shot of a shorter wait.
Lastly, try to take your time and really absorb the atmosphere. The HP areas in Universal are, in my opinion, the most amazingly themed lands at any theme park anywhere. There is an incredible attention to detail that you may miss if you are rushing through. My sister and I spent 6 hours in Diagon Alley alone on our trip and I am sure there are still things we missed.