Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Halloween Horror Night all in the same day...is this possible?

We leave Saturday for Orlando and will be at Disney for four days. At the last minute I have decided to spend our last day at Universal. Since we only have one day, I wanted to cram as much in as possible. It is just my husband and I, so no kids. Should we do 9am-6pm at Islands of Adventure and then go to Universal Studios for the Horror Night and ride the attractions that are open or should we buy the tickets allowing us to go to both parks during the day time and still do the Horror night in the evening as well?

Depends what attractions you want to ride at US - not all are open during HHN. Also, are you planning to buy EP for HHN? If not, you will not be able to do all the houses and rides at night, the waits are too long for the houses.
I would get a park to park pass so that you can do both during the day and be in a better position for HHN since you will already be in the park and the holding areas in the park will open to the houses before ticket holders outside of the park are let in. Or splurge on express pass for HHN so that you can get through the houses without too much wait and have time to do the attractions that are open as well.

1 Like

Thank you! Yes I was looking in to getting an express pass for during the day as well as for the Halloween party. I had even thought about doing VIP during the day. Does anybody have any experience with doing VIP?

If you do EP for the parks during the day as well as for HHN, you should be able to get most of everything in - we did it with older teen kids a few years ago; that was after Gringotts/Hogwarts Express in US, but before Kong, Fast & Furious and Fallon. The ideal option would be to book one of the premier Universal hotels for one night, then you would get early admission and EP for the day included (many folks who are staying at Disney do the same and get to the Universal hotel at 7 a.m., check in, get their EP I.D. and check out at the same time, without ever getting a room key) - you would still have to buy your park-to-park, HHN, and HHN EP tickets.

@mousematt has done the VIP thing. I don’t know if there’s only one or different options.

Thank you that is very helpful. Apparently universal studios opens at 7am to everybody? I don’t know know if this is something new or what?

I’ve done it three times and think it’s excellent. It starts with a pretty decent buffet breakfast. Then you typically cover Islands of Adventure — including Hagrid’s! — before having a great buffet lunch. And then on to Universal Studios, typically ending at Diagon Alley.

It’s very VIP. Direct to front of line: no waiting at all. The tour guide looks after all the bags. If you go on a wet ride, they give you ponchos. There’s some behind the scenes stuff, which is hit or miss. And some insider info which, again, is questionably of value.

Costs around $300 for seven hours total. Expect to do around 12-14 rides, including most of the “big” ones.


That was very helpful to know it includes Hagrids since the wait times can be like 2 hrs+. My plan to do it on my own has me start out with going to Universal first. If I don’t do VIP, I wonder if I should switch and do Islands of Adventure first instead since that is what you do on the tour?

My husband was very interested in VIP when I just read him your post. I read online the meeting time is 9:30 a.m. for Sunday Is that what time your meeting was? If so, what time did your tour end? Did you ever consider either of the buffets to be a waste of time and how many people were in your group?

I’m not sure I follow the logic. There’s nothing particularly special or clever about the order they do things in on the VIP tour.

There was a choice of times. I did 10.30am or 11am, I think. Ended seven hours later.

No, not at all. The breakfast is before the clock starts. And by lunch time you’re ready to eat. The food is great, too. It’s also a great opportunity to socialise more with the other guests in the group.

11 or 12 I think.

Thanks for the help!

@mousematt do the rides vary from tour to tour? I have 6 ppl in our group- some thrill seekers, some not - so I’m worried some of the rides may not be inclusive for the whole family. The reason I’m considering this is because we only have one day to go to both parks and we’ve never gone before. The kids are into rides, less into exploring HP World. We’re going right after New Year’s so, the crowds will be 10/10 still and I’m afraid the EP may not be enough to get us through the day. What would you recommend? Kids are 9-16. Thanks so much!

The specific choice of rides is up to the tour guide and it does vary. The only constant is that they always hit the three main Harry Potter rides (including the new Hagrid ride). All three of the ones I did also did Hulk, Spider-Man and Kong.

On the non-private tours, you will be with other families. You can express some preferences — perhaps negotiate with the other guests during the breakfast.

With a family of six at that time of year, you’re talking around $2,000. That’s a lot! Express Passes would be cheaper and — if you stay at the right hotels — they’d be free. And you’d get early park entrance. So if you stayed all day, you’d get a lot done with the EPs.

The VIP tour pass turns into an EP after the tour is over. If you book the earliest tour, you’ll have quite a lot of time afterwards (the tour is seven hours) to use the EPs to do the rides you missed on the tour. Also, at present the only way to do Hagrid’s without getting in a long line is via the VIP tour.

It probably comes down to money. If it’s less of a concern, the VIP tour might be the best of all worlds. But the EP route — especially coupled with an onsite hotel — would be much more economical and almost as good. Actually, better in some ways as you’ll have total control over what you do and when.


Fabulous. Thank you for going into such great detail about your experience. This is really helpful.
The total cost for the six of us would be about $1700, but with the lack of flexibility and unknown about exactly which rides we will be going on, I think we will just take a risk and have a casual day and hope for the best using the express passes. I laid out a half day at both parks each into TP and it looks doable. The extra $1000 would really just be for the security of getting to ride Hagrid and I am not sure that’s worth it to us.
Thanks again for the information!

1 Like