Things I'm glad we did BEFORE our trip

Thank you to everyone who has posted useful information on this forum! To pay it forward, I want to share “things I’m glad we did before our trip.” (4 adult females visited Universal Orlando, 3 days, 9/8-9/10 2019. All four of us are theme park and Harry Potter fans. We stayed at Lowes Royal Pacific, which includes Express Pass. Crowd levels were low!)

I’m glad we bought/did ahead of time:

  • Bought a small, flat fanny pack big enough for my phone, id, credit card, cash. Because: Waiting in 2hr queue for Hagrid would have felt really long without phones to take pictures and text the outside world. Sometimes bartenders do ask for ids. One day the Royal Pacific payment processing system went down and we needed backup payments options of credit cards and cash.
  • Bought Lanyards - we chose reel-style ones that worked really well. Because: You have to show your Tickets/Express Passes over and over and over! It was super nice to be able to pull the string and hold the passes out to whoever needed to scan them. Scanners could read the barcodes through the plastic sleeves with no issues.
  • Bought our Interactive Wands online. Because: We had fun looking at and discussing all the wands and selecting our favorites. I would have had a hard time picking one on the spur of the moment at Olivander’s – unless one chose me, of course!
  • Bought Wand Holsters. Because: I’m sure we looked like the nerdiest of nerds, but our wands were always handy and we didn’t have to worry about forgetting them anywhere. I was actually surprised we didn’t see more of these. They would be easy to make if you can sew and have time. Several Team Members commented on and appreciated them. (I will try to attach a photo.)
  • Bought Extra Keurig coffee pods. Because: I need more than one cup of coffee if I’m going to be social at 7am.
  • Bought Disposable plastic rain ponchos. Because: Even though it didn’t rain on us, we were prepared and I can save them for next time.
  • Downloaded the (Free) Universal App. (Listed in the Playstore as “Universal Orlando Resort™ The Official App.”) Because: We found this App quite useful for the map, show times, wait times, and restaurant menus. Downloading and becoming familiar with it ahead of time was a plus!
  • Made at least a sketchy/outline touring plan. Because: Even though our crowd level forecasts were low, we had ExpressPass, and we didn’t need a step-by-step plan, it was still nice to know what time we planned to start each day, which park, and the primary attractions we wanted to see.
  • Made a few dinner/lunch reservations. Because: Having a plan meant we didn’t have to spend a lot of touring time considering dining options. Plus reservations are easy to cancel if your plans change. Of our four reservations, we used three and cancelled one.
  • Made a list of all the attractions we might want to see in both parks. Because: We probably would have missed some things without a list. (I will try to attach, but please NOTE my list is just the ones we wanted to see – not a comprehensive list.)
    rides and shows list.pdf (102.5 KB)

I was really glad that:

  • We stayed at one of the resorts with Express Pass. The only thing we waited for was Hagrid’s Motorbike and lunch at the Three Broomsticks.
  • Bought park-to-park tickets. We went back and forth daily.

I’m sure everyone here is a planner - what are YOU glad you did in advance?



Great summary! My next trip is a girls trip with my sister and niece and we too are staying at RPR. I will review your list with them!


Thanks for sharing kiwismith13, you convinced me about the fanny pack, while waiting at Hagrid’s queue, our kids will appreciate it very much :slight_smile:

btw where did you buy your wand online?

Thanks, this is very useful! We did a lot of these things for our previous WDW trips but I had not thought about things like the wand holsters.

We bought our interactive wands directly from the Universal Online Store:
FYI - the cheapest shipping method was still pretty fast. :slight_smile:


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Thanks kiwismith13!

Where did you get the wand holster?? Great idea!!

Two thoughts occur to me:

  1. Your wand holster is the nerdiest and most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.

  2. Your wand holster is brilliant. Such a clever solution to the annoying problem of what to do with your wand when you’re not actually casting spells. I’m surprised Universal don’t sell them at Ollivander’s.

Also your point about pre-buying the wand is very smart. I felt rushed and pressured when I bought mine and ended up regretting my choice.


kiwismith13, Do you happen to have a link of where I could buy a fanny pack like yours? My wife liked the idea as well. Thanks!

I bought the wand holsters from an Etsy shop. Many creative people make all kinds of them!

happy shopping!

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So true!!! :rofl: I was super reluctant to present these as gifts to my very-cool traveling companions, but everyone agreed they were brilliant by the end of our trip!



qba, I bought my fanny pack on . I think it is technically a money-belt because it is very flat. There are tons of them out there at all different price points:

My particular one is called “Alpha Keeper” and it worked fine for me, but your wife might want to choose her own size/color/pocket configuration.

good luck!

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Thanks a lot Kiwi! :slight_smile:

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This is very August weather-specific, but I’m glad I got quick-dry sports-type t-shirts for all of us (we all felt the difference the few days we wore cotton tees) and that I thought carefully about moisture wicking and heat when choosing the bras I packed for myself!

I’m also glad we got the photo pass on sale ahead of time and that I found out from @darkmite2 where the green screen photos were. I’m also happy we had 2 lanyards already – we got a 3rd with the photo pass and then bought a 4th from them.

I contemplated getting wand holsters, and wish I’d done that! I saw an arm band one somewhere that looked cool. I don’t regret waiting until we were there to get wands, because my kids wanted the whole Ollivanders experience and really enjoyed having their wands choose them.

I’m glad I brought along silicone straws that were wide enough to deal with frozen drinks. And I’m glad I made tentative touring plans even though they got thrown out the window because it got me familiar with where various things were and what we were generally aiming for.

I’m also super glad we had park-to-park tickets, and that we had Express Pass for 3 of our days. I’m glad we didn’t have restaurant reservations because we liked the flexibility compared to WDW where we did have reservations.


Thanks for sharing all that info Steenaca. I would love for my kids to be pick for the wand show, how can we improve the chances of happening? Just keep doing the show over and over until they are both picked?

We have early entry so we can be there in the first group.

There’s a lot of mixed information out there about your chances of getting picked for the show. Some people recommend going all dressed up, others say you have a better chance if you are near 11 years old. Still others say it’s totally random. I can say that one year, my 10 year old son who was wearing a Harry Potter shirt and a birthday button got picked. Another year, my adult sister and myself, who were wearing matching Harry Potter shirts, got chosen over children in the audience. If your kids are big fans and have any kind of costumes or shirts, I would think that that is probably most likely to give them an extra nudge.

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Thanks rebeecky, will buy the robes then. So for the wand show you just line up right? So we should be able do it again in case our other kid get choosen right?

Not exactly random, but up to the cast member for sure.

When we were there, despite there being a few younger kids, and some of us having HP themed shirts on, the person chosen was a lady who looked to be in her upper 30s with no kids with her and just her husband (?). It seemed like an odd choice. But I have to wonder if it was purposely done to prevent jealousy among the young kids. (“Why did they pick HER when I was RIGHT THERE?”) That kind of thing.

Yes. But there is a bit of a wait. We were there when crowds were EXTREMELY low for everything. But the wait for the wand show was still like 15 minutes or so, not including the time of the show itself.

Thanks ryan1, We have 4 days with early park entrance, We were planning to sacrifice just the first day of Hagrids rope drop to go and get the wands at Universal Studios, but I’m not sure that I want to sacrify two days. I guess we try to do the first show, if none get picked, we are done, but if one does we try it one more time and be ok with whatever happens.

By the way what about a little present $ into to the wizard pocket as an insensitive? :wink: