Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Potter Land Better Early or Late after 8 PM?

Universal Orlando: Are the lines shorter early in the morning or late in the evening after 8 for Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

From Jeff Crist
Posted December 8, 2010 at 8:39 PM
I've been studying trip reports regarding Universal and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, unlike WDW, there seems to be no authoritative source for tour planning strategies for Universal. Opinions seem to be all over the map. It seems majority (although not an overwhelming one) of park goers seem to recommend doing Harry Potter early in the morning right when the park opens. This is the typical strategy with the WDW parks. But like any of the popular attractions that appeal to young kids, I've found that the lines go back to what they were early in the morning when it is late in the evening.

Now consider this, the primary target audience for Harry Potter are young children with little patience. Combine this with the fact this is a brand new attraction and I would venture to say the majority of park goers hit it earlier than later as parents cave to the demands of their children with no patience.

So now fast forward, the kids, who have seen everything and rode everything one or two times are finishing dinner around 6:30 or 7. For much of the year the park closes at 7 but not this time of year it closes at 10. But the Butterbeer sugar rush has given out and for most of the young kids, their eyelids are growing heavy as the 8 or 9 PM witching hour approaches where parents risk their child turning into a Troll if they keep them up too long.

So the questions becomes, has anyone out there been to Universal since Harry Potter opened where the park was opened until 10 PM and surveyed the lines shortly after opening and say after 8 PM?

My own hunch (without any experience) is. during busy season like around Xmas, to arrive at opening, do all the popular Marvel Rides, then hop over to the Studios side and do the few best rides over there. Take an early afternoon break when the place is a madhouse and come back and do the less popular rides at IOA right after dinner (around 7), then save Potter for the last 2 hours from 8-10. Plus the parks always look better lit up at night anyway. In other words, the strategy is to try to do the opposite of everyone else. To me, everyone else will hit Potter first, then Marvel rides, then Studios and burnout around dinner or shortly thereafter, especially if they have young kids.

We have a 2-day pass so we can try both strategies. But I'm curious if anyone has compared early morning to late evening (after 8 PM) lines at Potter land? Seems like most people have tried one or the other but not both? Is the Wand Show and Shop still open that late and can you get Butterbeer still that late?

From Jorge Arnoldson
Posted December 9, 2010 at 3:06 PM
Last Saturday, I arrived at the park at around 9:30 and skipped Seuss and Lost Continent to go straight to Harry Potter. Hogsmeade was crowded, but the lines for the rides were in the neighborhood of 10-30 minutes. I headed straight for Forbidden Journey, where the sign said the line would be 30 minutes. I was ushered off to the left because I only had $3 in my pocket that I spent later that day on water and squirting someone on Dudley Do-Right. Me being ushered off to the left shaved about 10-15 minutes off the wait time. After I got off FJ, the line for Hippogriff was 45 minutes, so I skipped that and went to Dragon Challenge, which had a wait time of 15 minutes.

From Hermione Potter
Posted December 9, 2010 at 4:05 PM
Well the parks aren't even open after 8 9 months of the year so it would be hard to compare that specific time frame - even now Islands closes at 7-8 and will only close later from christmas to new year's eve, when the thanksgiving set up of needing to get a "reservation" coughfastpasscough to enter wizarding world will apply. (so morning rush for a return time that week)

However, I've seen the crush of people literally running to Potter in the morning and I have to say that nothing on this earth could tempt me to go to wizarding world before 2:30pm on any day. By this point it's only 3-4 hours until park close and most people have been there all day - they want to go back to the hotel, they want to shop, they want to rest, but they usually don't want to ride roller coasters right after lunch (dragon challenge), kids are tired and whiney and don't want to wait for hippogriff, and the crush of people has been on forbidden journey that morning. Oh and it's off hours for eating at 3 broomsticks too! (AFTER dragon challenge)

From Nick Markham
Posted December 9, 2010 at 6:06 PM
Definitely nighttime is the only way to go. Even if you are a hotel guest and get in early in the morning, EVERYONE from ALL THREE hotels! At night, it is surprisingly calm, plus, as long as you get in line about 10-15 minutes prior to park closing, you will get to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, even if the park has closed, meaning that when you exit, you also get the special chance to see the park when it is closed, with the lights still on, but with no crowds!

From Mike Gallagher
Posted December 9, 2010 at 6:13 PM
Jorge said, "I was ushered off to the left because I only had $3 in my pocket that I spent later that day on water and squirting someone on Dudley Do-Right."

Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand what the amount of money in your pocket had to do with where you're directed in the line. Can someone enlighten this rider who doesn't often get to Florida and doesn't know much about line policies?

From Hermione Potter
Posted December 9, 2010 at 6:47 PM
Mike, he means that if you don't need to use a locker you go left into the actual line for the ride upon entering the castle. If you need a locker you go right and have to fight through the crowd and wait to put your stuff in a free locker before heading back out to the same point to now go left.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted December 10, 2010 at 3:35 AM
Thanks, Ms. Potter! I get it now.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 10, 2010 at 8:01 AM
I would stick to the old reliable theme park tip: go when its open! Then, if you have time, you can do it later on in the day!

From Janice Pearse
Posted December 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM
Even though you have 3 hotels feeding visitors into early admission at IOA, it's still very empty at that time of day. There are far few people then, than it is late at night. But yes, late is much better than, say, noon.

From Jeff Crist
Posted December 15, 2010 at 5:35 PM
Regarding the locker thing, so is it any big advantage to just use the lockers at the park entrance and not have ANYTHING to put in a locker at Forbidden Journey?

I don't think we will have a choice as I don't think we can get there at opening that day so Potter will have to be late and if that doesn't work, we'll be at Rope Drop on Day 2 and head straight to Potter.

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