Nick McKaig

Published: June 9, 2014 at 10:10 AM

I think it is very smart of Universal to offer an official return time system. I was there on opening day in 2010 and it was a total overload of people. The park employed a return time function later on during busy days, but it was never built in to the park like the booths they have built over in USO.

Now people won't have to wait in a line for their entire visit to the park! They can enjoy other attractions and come back at a certain time. And assuming they will be doing crowd control like before, the lines inside of the park shouldn't be ridiculous even on the most popular days.

Any bets on how late the park will stay open on opening day?

Published: June 9, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Hi Robert, I am a big fan of your website and i been following it for almost a year. I always look forward to read any of your future post. I thought that if you were at IOA you are able to ride the Train WITHOUT a park to park access to Diagon Alley but if you are at USF and want to acces Diagon Alley then you need a Park to Park access ticket to enter.Could you verify that? We are planning a trip for September or October and just want to make sure we buy the right tickets. Thank you so much

Jon in Denver CO

Robert Niles

Published: June 9, 2014 at 12:21 PM

As of now, the policy is that you will need a valid park-to-park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express in either direction.
Brian Emery

Published: June 9, 2014 at 12:35 PM

This is so damn exciting....
Krecher has been Watching...

Daniel Etcheberry

Published: June 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Are the return tickets for Diagon Alley a temporary policy or is it going to be the permanent way to access that area?
Robert Niles

Published: June 9, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Daniel, I'd suspect the return tickets will be in place so long as demand requires them. When crowds thin to a walk-up basis and there's no need for return tix, they'll go away. I suspect they'll be back at peak times, though, for at least the first couple summers and a Christmas.
luca ferracuti

Published: June 9, 2014 at 1:53 PM

can you get return tickets online?
Robert Niles

Published: June 9, 2014 at 10:51 PM

Nothing suggests that Universal will be doing that - at least not for now.
Dan Glynn

Published: June 10, 2014 at 2:24 AM

Fascinating!! I like the idea of the return ticket for crowd control. I'd hate to be the closest staff member when return times run out. Will also be interesting how they'll estimate how long guests will stay in Diagon Alley. I bet at the start, some people will be there all day.

Published: June 10, 2014 at 3:44 AM

All well and good but what if you want to stay longer ir not seen everything
Melissa Donahue

Published: June 10, 2014 at 6:07 AM

Nice job on the re-cap video, Robert!

I would imagine that once you're in DA, they can't kick you out. Most guests that are staying for multiple days or who have already experienced the other park attractions will "camp out" for the day in Diagon Alley -- or at least, that's what I would do!

Published: June 10, 2014 at 6:56 AM

I can't wait to see it all and will be there in August, but this ridiculous thing about the first ride ever that REQUIRES park-hopper ticket is just a mess. For a family of six it's going to cost us about $240 just to go on that ride. We're already planning a 3-night stay at UO and ideally would have done a 2- or 3- day 1-park-per-day ticket. Of course we're going all that way so will likely drop the $240 for the upgrades to that ticket but it strikes me as totally unfair - and it's definitely never been done before in any situation that I've ever heard of. I really hope they change it!

Published: June 10, 2014 at 7:30 AM

It's shocking how much stuff Universal was able to put in one attraction area (the former Jaws lot). Even on the IOA side the station and the track are all on unused land.
Eric Orlando

Published: June 10, 2014 at 7:41 AM

Though you will need a park to park ticket to ride the train, it does not mean that you are guaranteed entry in to the park in very rare situations.

There is a section of the overflow crowd procedures that if the land is closed due to capacity, there is a special waiting section at both train stations where they will put you. You can either go back on the train or wait for the land to reopen again.

It will also be interesting to see how they handle HHN. My thought is that they may close entry to Diagon Alley from USF but they could keep it open for people coming on the train from IOA.

Robert Niles

Published: June 10, 2014 at 9:42 AM


DA will be closed for HHN. There's no good way to keep the pathway in front of London open while restricting access into DA from people riding over on the Hogwarts Express.

Published: June 10, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Once again my thanks to Robert for his continued coverage of the Diagon Alley project. I find it interesting to look back at the original story a few years ago and see all the comments about how the park wasn't needed or couldn't work.
Eric Orlando

Published: June 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Hahaha! After I posted that I saw the details for HHN 2014 and it was in the announcement. Oh well. It was just a thought from months ago.
Kris V

Published: June 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

You know what this means? There will only be one place serving British pub food during HHN. How will we be able to cope?

Published: June 10, 2014 at 8:19 PM

So basically the train is an upcharge attraction because if you don't pay for park hopping you can't ride.

Published: June 11, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Robert -- Any knowledge of what HP film actors are showing up for the grand opening??
Robert Niles

Published: June 13, 2014 at 8:24 AM

We haven't been told yet. I know nothing about any of the performers' availability next week, but last time we got:
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)
Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley)
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
Michael Gambon (Dumbledore)
James Phelps (Fred Weasley)
Oliver Phelps (George Weasley)
Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley)
Warwick Davis (Griphook/Professor Flitwick)
Update: Forgot about Matthew Lewis (Neville) Sorry!

Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) showed up for pre-event photo ops in May 2010, but not for the June press event. J.K. Rowling was at the celebrity opening ceremony, but did not do a press conference.

Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) has done a promo video for Diagon Alley and was at the Japan announcement event, so I'd include her on the possibility list for next week, too. Domhnall Gleeson is in the Gringotts preshow as Bill Weasley, so I'd put him on the list of possibles, too.

I'd love to see Helena Bonham Carter, since she appears in the ride as Bellatrix, as well as Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort). But I'd be surprised if either were there.

And if Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith were to show up, my life would be complete. :^)

Published: June 11, 2014 at 5:58 PM

The cost for my family of four to ride the Hogwarts Express would be about $160, because of the multi-park pass requirement. We are huge HP fans but enough's enough. I fold!
James Rao

Published: June 11, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Alan Rickman would be awesome... But I would rather he showed up as Hans Gruber!!

And yes, to the four anonymous posters who are wise to Universal's nefarious scheme, the train is indeed an upcharge attraction and yes, a very expensive one at that. :(

Mitchell Brouillard

Published: June 12, 2014 at 4:33 AM

Snitch seeker reported last week that Helena bonham carter is confirmed to attend the event
Patti Morris

Published: June 13, 2014 at 10:03 AM

I am staying at the Royal Pacific for one night on August 16th solely to be able use the early opening perk. My question is this....assuming both parks will open at the same time for early opening, do I start at Diagon Alley? If one opens before the other, it's a moot point but....

If they do open at the same time, by the time I've done the ride, (that being the first go-to after arrival, of course), would there be any time left in the early opening window to try to make it to IOA to do the Forbidden Journey? Would it even be possible to fit both in that first hour? Then maybe return to Diagon Alley before the masses arrive? Naturally, my priority would be Diagon Alley having done IOA, but I'm just curious.

Many thanks for all your very useful information.