Thanks for all of the great info! We are HP fans. I am wondering if we were to go back for the second half day if we could make that extra HP focused time and feel it was enough. We would still see it on our day 1 but in addition to all of the other rides.
Hey, ryan!! Thanks again for your great input!! I’ve read your trip report and it sounded a lot of fun! I’ll likely feel the same when comparing Disney and Universal (my wife and I are also “Disney people at heart”! ), but I think my 8-year-old boy will love Universal. Let’s see…
I’ve created some personalized plans starting on Diagon Alley (9AM), going to IOA (around 10:30) and getting back to USF around 2:15PM. Based on the evaluated results from Turing Plans (and considering that we’ll be there on a Crowds 2 level day for this first visit), it seems it would be possible for us to explore nicely those areas (included 40 mins of general exploration of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade) and still go to Spider-man, Skull Island and Mummy by 3PM.
Now, my main doubt at this point is: does 40 min of free exploration at Diagon Alley and another 40min at Hogsmeade makes sense? Or is it too little to enjoy the areas?
You can get a general feel for both of those areas in 40 minutes each, but if you want to do a more extended time, I would put all 80 in Diagon Alley. In my opinion, it is superior to Hogsmeade. Also, do you plan on doing spells? That could take a lot of time.
I can see you are in a pickle with this. If you only have 3 days for Disney total, and 1 day for Universal…wow. I mean, honestly, if I were you (or you were me?) I’d make the trip about one or the other, but not both. This year for us was all about Universal (and a tiny bit of Disney at Disney Springs). We could dedicate our trip to Universal and enjoy it fully. But I wouldn’t attempt to cram both sets of parks in just 4 days like that.
You will spend your time sacrificing one thing for the other. Plus, doing that ultimately makes the entire trip more expensive (or in the very least, less “optimized” in terms of costs). I mean, going to a 4-day park hopper ticket for Universal costs way less than having a day or two at Universal plus 2-3 days doing WDW. The extra money could be spent in other ways…like buying wands, extra Butterbeer, etc.
Regardless, I think you need to decide what is most important to you and focus on it. If you do a single day at Universal, and want your focus more about WDW, then I’d say make Universal about experience Harry Potter first and foremost, and then add in any extras you can if the day allows for it. But don’t TRY to make it about getting as much in from Universal as possible.
I’m with @rebeecky on this. I think you need more exploration time. Yes, you can rush through it, but it is all the little nuances that make it so spectacular that you’ll miss. For example, you’ll want to take time to pee in the restrooms in Hogsmeade, or else you’ll miss out on Moaning Myrtle. Even if you don’t buy wands, it is fun to watch OTHER people use their interactive wands.
@kjsprouse, I agree with this 100%. You are working with limited time, and if you really like Harry Potter, devote your one day to Harry Potter in its entirety so you can truly appreciate it. Otherwise, you will end up just rushing from one thing to the next to try and get it all in.
Thanks for the input! What do you think of the plan to do one full day experiencing it all including HP especially at night. And then a half day (open until 1) focused on HP only? We will have the express pass, early entry, and low crowd level days in our favor. Also 2 parents to divide up if interests take the kids in different directions.
You can do it that way. I’d be more inclined to focus on HP on Day 1 as much as possible. You will get through it all no problem for sure, and then do other things in the parks that you want. Then, if you go the second day, you can make it a “highlights” day, or a day you do things you didn’t the first day. With Express Pass AND Early Entry, you’ll get through all of HP on Day 1 by 3. Rest of the day devote to other things.
I think your better bet is going to be too do all of your Harry Potter in one day. The experience and detailing is so immersive, that you can get lost in all of it, from a figurative sense, and truly enjoy the experience. Aside from having to exit Diagon Alley and walk along the London Waterfront to get to Kings Cross station, you can stay entirely enclosed in the Harry Potter areas the entire time and really get the most of the experience. When you are done, you can see what time it is and then continue on to other things. I would definitely plan on having some evening time in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley as well.
Just to follow up on @rebeecky here, do make sure you head STRAIGHT to HP. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Even if you see things on the way you like…just make a mental note head to Diagon Alley.
Why? Because despite the crowd reports (we were there when it was a 2), the crowds in HP pick up considerably by noon. Doing the casual “explore” of the world becomes a lot more annoying because you end up kind of shoulder to shoulder. But early in the day, it is really nice. Once crowds pick up in HP, it is a good time to then retreat into the main part of the park to get some other things done and if you so desire return to HP for the evening.
I see… I guess you and @ryan1 have convinced me! I’ll focus on Harry Potter that day. I should be able to go back to the parks at least 2 more times throughout that week with another friend and his daughter (7). She does not know Harry Potter yet (her dad will likely initiate her , so I doubt she would enjoy the extra time on those areas. So, in the end I agree that it’s wiser to take our time in the first day for this…
Regarding the spells, is it really worth it? Are there a lot of possible/nice interactions? Are they all I haven’t read about that yet on the Internet. If you guys have suggestions on where to start, it’d be greatly appreciated.
I also read @rebeecky’s recommendation for having some evening time in the area. Why is that exactly? Are there new things to experience (like different spells)? Or is it because of the lights and night decorations?
We didn’t think it was worth it enough to buy the wands. But we did have fun watching people do some of the spells. The best, of course, is casting a spell that makes it rain on those coming out of the restrooms! It is fun to watch…not as fun to be the one getting rained on!
BTW, a bit of advice, if you DO buy a wand (interactive or not), I recommend NOT buying it at Olivander’s, but going around the corner to Gregorovitch. After the wand show at Olivander’s, the store itself becomes super busy. But the Gregorovitch street shop is far less busy and sells the same items.
None of my experience is first hand but just by reading posts here and elsewhere, it seems that HP world becomes more magical at night. Not because of anything really extra, except for maybe the castle lighting show?, but the ambiance in general.
I think at least one wand would be worth it just for the immersive experience. We plan to have them be gifts from grandma.
I love this UOR thread by the way! I get sooo much posted on the Disney end that I miss hearing all of the UOR talk. It gets me so excited to see UOR for the first time!
@kjsprouse sums it up perfectly. There is nothing new to experience at night, but the areas definitely look more magical at night. The lights on the castle, the dragon breathing fire, these are some of the things that are all the more amazing in the dark. Also, my family has found that the last hour before park close tends to be much less congested, so you can appreciate things a little bit better.
As for the wands, I I think that is up to your opinion. I think doing the spells is fun, and my kids enjoyed it as well, though the wands are very pricey. If you think you could get away with getting one wand and having everyone share it, that may be the best bet. If no one is super gung-ho on doing it, you can easily just watch other people do it. I find first thing in the morning to be the best time to do spells. If you have early entry (which I have lost track of through this thread) I would say use that time to do spells if you’re going to do them. There will be very little wait time.
Oh. I wanted to throw in one more bit of advice if this is a first time visit.
When you are in line for Hogwarts Express leaving from Diagon Alley, be on the lookout for the part where you see the people walking through the wall to Platform 9 3/4. It is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.
Basically, at one point, you can see the line ahead of you off to the left and as people move forward, they walk through the wall. If you miss it, you miss it because when you get to the same spot in line where YOU walk through the wall, it doesn’t look (to you) like you are walking through the wall at all!
I absolutely agree with Ryan on this. We only go to both WDW and UOR if we have 8-10 days (at least) in Orlando. Then we do 2-3 UOR (2 if no water park, 3 with Volcano Bay). It is so expensive to go to both for a short trip, I would pick one this trip and then next trip in a few months pick the other. 4 days is a very short trip for WDW, maybe just go to Universal this trip and save WDW for a longer trip next year?