I am struggling to plan our Universal Orlando portion of our Disney Vacation and could use some advice!
Traveling Thanksgiving weekend with husband, 6.5 year old Potter fanatic, 11 month old AND three 70-ish grandparents (active types). We ended up getting 3-day park to park tickets (b/c the 3rd day was free on Undercover Tourists, but originally planned only to tour UCF primarily on Saturday 11/28 and IOA primarily on Sunday morning 11/29. 6.5 year old is a Potter fanatic. Booked one night at Loew’s Royal Pacific, which gives 5 of us early entry on Saturday, plus Express Passes. (note: booked Friday night, not Saturday, because Saturday is our primary touring day, and it would be impossible to convince my family to check in to the hotel at 6am so we can make the Saturday early entry).
Saturday: 11/28/15; 5 out 10 crowd day. UCF primarily. EE + Express. Use EE - head to UCF Diagon Alley first thing (either from Hogwards Express via Hogsmeade early entry, or straight to UCF, since history says they’ll make UCF EE as well). Use express pass for balance of touring. Leave the park for good by 3pm. Only go to IOA via Hogwarts train to use Express pass on a few ‘must see’ non HP rides that are suitable for a 7 year old
Sunday: 11/29/15; 2 out of 10 crowd day. No early entry or Express. At rope drop, head to IOA Hogsmead. Leave park for good by 1.30pm-ish.
Here is where I am stumped. Based on what I read, and given crowd level predictions, I thought early entry was a ‘must’ if you wanted to get HP World completed (unless you can stay till 9pm closure, which we can’t with the age demographic of our party). However, all the recent postings suggest avoiding the HP worlds altogether till the late evening, regardless of EE or Express Pass.
So,my questions are:
- is it a lesson in futility to think we’ll enjoy Diagon alley using EE on a busy holiday Saturday morning (Ollivanders, Gringotts, the shops, Leaky Cauldron, etc)? Since we have Express passes for everything else, we don’t need to balance waits for other rides, just figure out HP world. I am targeting Diagon Alley first b/c while I know my son can handle Gringotts, not sure he’s going to want to go on the Forbidden Journey, so definitely don’t want to start with Forbidden Journey.
- for the following Sunday morning, without EE, on a low touring day (2 out of 10), will getting to Hogsmeade with regular entry crowd be a similar lesson in futility, ruining our ability to enjoy Hogsmeade?
- Should I try to convince my family to activate that “3rd” day on Friday evening, and go to park for a few hours after dinner (maybe 6.30-8.30pm?), and get a few hours of HP touring out of the way at night on Friday night (one of the busiest touring days of the year for UO)? And, is that a good use of park time to be in HP World, when we would have Express Pass for that afternoon for the other attractions. And, will HP world really be all that empty at 7pm on one of the busiest days of the year? Note: evening touring for our family is not ideal, even with naps. 1 year olds and 70 year olds don’t stay up late, no matter the nap schedule
Or, should I change my hotel reservation to Saturday night to Sunday, giving us EE and Express on both Saturday and Sunday, ensuring we’ll have better touring in IOA on Sunday, since we’ll have early entry AND express pass? In this scenario, it would be a VERY hard sell to get my family to check in to the hotel at 6AM on Saturday, just so that we can still take advantage of EE on Saturday, our primary touring day. Might have to bribe them…
Overall vacation plan for context:
Arrive Tuesday. Staying at Marriott Cypress Harbour. Dinner at 6.00pm.
Wednesday - MK from RD to 3.30pm (leaving the park for good after Fantasy parade)
Thanksgiving - MK from RD to 11.45AM, and again 7pm-9.30pm. Leaving park midday to return to condo for naps. Thanksgiving Dinner at 5.15pm, and then return to park after dinner for fireworks and light show.
Friday: Sleep in day. Originally planned for NO PARK day.
Saturday: Universal Orlando / UCF primarily (tentative EE-3pm)
Sunday AM: Universal Orlando / IOA primarily (tentative: regular entry RD - 1.30pm-ish)
Sunday 5.30pm flight departure
Any advice would be highly appreciated.