Universal Plan: Some Qs & Req for Plan Advice

OK, Universal newbie (except for childhood trip!). We know the Disney drill inside out by now, but I haven’t done Universal since, oh, early 90s. Big family, and lots of folks, all with their issues. DS4 (“U”) is barely 40 inches now, should be just over by July, but we skipped a lot of the tall-kid/scary rides for his sake. But he’s pretty tough, loves Transformers, not a shrinking violet. DD7 & DD9 don’t like super-fast/scary coasters, so they’ll be fine going on mostly the 40"+ ones. But they’ll want to do some of the non-Potter stuff for sure. Then me (“CHA”), super prone to motion sickness on rides where they pick you up and jiggle you and show fast movement on screens. So I will do wristband and ear patch and ginger candy and cross fingers. Prob skipping Simpsons. DH hates all theme parks (crowds, being outdoors when hot, long lines, bad food, cranky kids, am I forgetting anything?) and rides so will be suffering throughout and few suggestions will relieve this situation. Oh well. Two grandparents, Papa game for whatever. Nana Potter-obsessed. OBSESSED. She is why we’re going to this park. So. Qs:

(1) Tell me if anything else to skip bc motion sickness besides Simpsons? Big kids and Dad kind of like that show, so don’t want to ditch entirely.
(2) How long would we have to wait at Leaky Cauldron @ 10:30? None? A little? Any chance we can indeed be out in 45 min?
(3) Race through NY: when do we first go get a return time ticket if we want to ride 6:30? Anytime morning? Exactly a certain time before? I don’t understand this process.
(4) Here’s rough draft plan. Please advise! https://touringplans.com/plans/print?id=2880948

I am so excited for you and your family! I love Disney, but as a Potter-obsessed lunatic (Nana and I should hang out!), Universal is totally my happy place. You guys will love it.

(1) I don’t get motion sickness really at all, but Forbidden Journey makes me a bit woozy. I hate to even say that, as it is the best ride in any theme park anywhere in my opinion, but I must be honest. Closing my eyes at certain parts and taking deep breaths helps, but I almost always get off feeling a bit queasy. But I would never, ever skip it. However, if you are ONLY going to USF and not IOA, this is a moot point, as Forbidden Journey is in IOA. Minions can also be rough for some people, but, as you noted in your plan, you can request a stationary seat.

(2) I feel like being in and out of any eatery in 45 minutes with a family is close to impossible. 10:30 is a good time, and the line may not be too long, but you are going in July, so I would expect lines no matter what. You wait to have your order taken, then they give you a number and bring you your food. If you rush through the experience and run out the door, 45 minutes may be doable. But Nana will want to take in all the details, as the themeing is incredible.

(3) I only went on Race Through NY once and I had EP, so I was able to walk right in, but my understanding is that once you are in the park, you can go on the Universal app and reserve a ride time. If you do this right when you get in the park, I believe you should be able to pick 6:30 as your return time. From that point, it functions like a FP and you go back at your specified time.

(4) Your plan looks good to me, but Nana may need more time to explore Diagon Alley. There is SO much to see and the details are absolutely amazing. My sister and I literally spent 6 hours in Diagon Alley one trip, including riding Gringotts, seeing the shows, doing spells, exploring the shops and eating in the Leaky Cauldron. I admit this is more than the average person would spend, but it is definitely possible, especially when you consider Knockturn Alley.

Any more questions, send them our way!

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One more thing I would mention. When I last took my youngest, he was almost 4. He loves Transformers and Harry Potter. Since he met the height requirement, we let him ride Transformers and Gringotts. He did fine on the actual ride, no crying or screaming, but when the ride stopped, he turned to me and said “I am NOT going on that ride again!” and was adamant about that for the rest of the trip. Both are pretty intense and, even though he was tough, it may have been a bit much for him. (Everest was his favorite ride at Disney, as a comparison.) For over a year after the trip, whenever anyone even mentioned Gringotts, his eyes got huge and he said “I will NEVER go on that ride again!” Just recently he has said he may consider trying it again.

Fair enough. We’ll keep an eye on DS4. I upped time at Leaky Cauldron, moved Ollivander’s to evening. Sadly this gives my mom less time still for general Diagon Alley exploration. Well, she can shorten break if she cares. It’s a long enough break for that to be an option.

Do you plan on buying wands and doing any spells while you are there, or only attending the show at Ollivanders? If you will be doing spells, you will need to build in time for that and may want to go go Ollivanders earlier in the day. If you are just doing the show, you should be fine.

Probably just the show. My kids tolerate their Nana’s Potter obsession, but they will want to spend their souvenir budgets elsewhere. But I’ll keep that in mind if she manages to stoke fires more by then. Would a wand bought at Islands earlier in week work at Universal, I assume…?

Yes, the wands work between both parks forever. If one breaks, it can be “repaired” by a wandmaker (read: replaced) for no cost. At least, that is my understanding. Mine is still going strong.

We did Fallon twice on our last trip: first time in the morning was fine, second after lunch made my wife and I a little woozy. I also find that Transformers jerks you around more than some of the others, so that can cause a problem. Forbidden Journey is touch and go at times, but it’s so amazing that I’d never miss a chance to do it. Never had an issue with Minions, Spiderman, Gringotts, or Kong.

We were there during a CL 8, and the line was out the door at all hours other than at opening, but even then it was full of people getting butterbeer before the Hog’s Head opened. 45 min. would be pushing it.

We are considering going to Universal for our first time in early December. I am wondering what a return time ticket is. We would stay at a resort that would give us EP. Do you also get other passes on top of EP?

It’s just for Fallon: you go to the attraction and get a ticket to return at a specific time. However, if you have EP, you walk in immediately, so you won’t have to worry about it!

On the motion simulator rides: I have issues with most of the 3D rides but love rollercoasters. Since this is an only once trip, DM is ok (you may want stationary bench), but we actually found the minion meet and greet more enjoyable. Transformers is not worth it for me…too nauseating and plot not enjoyable. Gringott’s is so immersive with theming that it’s good to experience but couldn’t do twice in one day (the castle at IoA on the other hand is a great tour, but won’t ever get on the ride again). I didn’t enjoy Fallon at all (motion sickness just for movement sake) and will not ever set foot on Simpsons again (long wait for not great ride and not as good of theming). Realize that getting on motion simulators back to back has a cumulative effect throughout the day. I’d hit the most important to you ones first and evaluate whether you can stomach more. For me, that would be DM, Gringotts. Also Gringott’s has a family photo area if you’re interested (best not to look too green!) before you ride the ride.

I saw no mention of MIB…DD7 and DD9 might like it as it was one of our favorites (kind of like TSMM).

Please understand that the theming in HP area is awesome and I like that you put some great time in Diagon Alley at then end of the day (cool at night, but dark). Realize that there are tight areas and that by 11 or so starts to feel very crowded. Your husband might feel overwhelmed. You could either sit him down with a butterbeer, real beer, or ice cream from Florean Fortescue. Or you could get to Diagon Alley earlier, leaving Transformers for a little later. I do understand why you put it at the time you did, though, en route to DA. One of my absolute favorite things was casting spells with a wand. You don’t need lots of wands, but Nana might want one that the kids could then take turns using. And she may want to get this earlier to use a little earlier in the day. By mid-day, there are lines to do the spells at each location, which makes it a little less magical if you see it 15 times before you actually get to do it (though late at night might be ok). With my diverse party, I would have the Potter fan see the afternoon shows (Celestina, Tales of the Bard) while the others who wanted to do Transformers did that. Or send hubby to the play area with the kids (I think there are some shady areas around in there).

The other thing I would mention is that for littles, the play areas are a time suck that they really enjoy. We brought a change of clothes for the water area (even Fievel area has a waterslide) and easily spent 1h here.

I agree wtih rebeecky that Nana may need more DA time. I would say 45min at least looking at shops and 1h spell casting. That doesn’t include Gringotts or Florescue’s ice cream shop (like can get long). Perhaps if she’s uninterested in Transformers, you can send her ahead.

Oh, and will you have express passes? I was thinking the time estimates were fairly short for mid-summer.

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All very helpful, thanks! No express passes. Times are just what the software spit out.