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Theme park experts: harry potter in a half day?

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NYC
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Theme park experts: harry potter in a half day?

Hello Orlando destination experts,

I am not a theme park sort of vacationer, but I have to go to Orlando for a conference this weekend and I am a big Harry Potter fan. So, I decided to fly down a day early to try to see the Harry Potter parts of the Islands of Adventure.

I *thought* I had all day Sunday, or at least until 6, but now it seems I might have to be back at the hotel which is on International Drive near Sea World by 13:30 p.m. on Sunday. Is it possible to squeeze Harry Potter into a half day? If so, should I go first thing Sunday morning and plan to be standing at the gates when the place opens or on Saturday afternoon after about 1 (my domestic flight lands at 10:30 a.m. but I will need to ditch my bags at the hotel)? The park is open until 8 pm on Saturday.

Should I buy tickets on line in advance? Does that reduce waiting at the park entrance? Sorry if these questions are silly, but the last time I was in Orlando, I was 5 years old!

Thanks for any strategy and tips from experienced theme park goers!

Metro Orlando
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for Daytona Beach
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1. Re: Theme park experts: harry potter in a half day?

Do buy tickets in advance. The Universal ticket lines tend to plod along no matter how short they are.

The Harry Potter area, as with the rest of the parks, is certainly less crowded first thing in the morning. Even without early admission (which you get by staying at an on-site hotel) you should have close to an hour before things start getting jammed.

Personally, I only really hit the HP section for the rides. Since they added the Single Rider line to the main HP ride it's been much easier to just jump on it (my record was 90 seconds in mid-Afternoon) and I haven't seen much of a line at the Dragon Challenge in years. But, I'm guessing you might want to check out some of the secondary attractions over there too. I don't usually pay attention to those. And, I do generally avoid the parks on the busiest weekend but I don't think this week-end is one of them.

If you're able to sneak over on Saturday, I've found that the lines shorten up a lot after maybe 5 PM.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Theme park experts: harry potter in a half day?

I'd also suggest buying your ticket in advance. As the previous response mentioned...Universal ticket lines tend to be slow. You should be fine with half a day. HP is only a section of Universal IOA and doesn't require even half a day. Your longest wait time would be for Forbidden Journey and Olivander's Wand Shop if you choose to venture in. However the wait time for the ride varies. We've waited as long as 50 min. and as short as 10 min. If your visit coincides with the opening of Diagon Alley in Universal Studios this summer...then you will experience much longer waits unfortunately. One last suggestion is to make sure you wait in the regular line for Forbidden Journey your first time around, as the castle itself is a big part of the attraction. Once you've gone through the castle, then I'd suggest the single-rider line should you want to ride again (if lines are long).

3. Re: Theme park experts: harry potter in a half day?

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