Today I went to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WW of HP).
Here are some tricks-n-tips for others who might be tempted:
- Swing left when entering the park. As soon as you see the end of a line on the right-hand side of the street, JOIN IT. It’s the line for WW of HP and it’s a 3 hour wait from the Marvel Super Hero section.
- At some point a park employee will come along the line and you will be handed red tickets; these are your proof you are in that spot in the line.
- You cannot get out of line and come back later, and you cannot get into the WW of HP without that red ticket. Your number ticket must come after the number in front of you and before the one in back of you (effectively nips line jumpers).
- If at least one person in the party stays in that spot in line, the rest can head off to do other things, but they have to get back before that spot in the line reaches the front of the line.
- HOWEVER, the park occasionally sweeps up about 500 people in the line (to take some pressure off the main line) and marches them double-time to the back entrance (i.e., run your ass off). The back entrance is usually reserved for hotel guests. It’s a real royal pain to get your group back together if this happens ‘cuz you all have to go in together (ask me how I know).
- Once you have your red tickets, start looking for a park employee holding index card-sized white pieces of paper and say “Hi, [insert name here], what are those white pieces of paper?” They will tell you they are passes to go to the back entrance and get in during a specific timeframe so you don’t have to stand in line anymore. You want these! I recommend that you send one of your party up and down the line until you find one of these elusive beasts.
- You don’t have to give up your red tickets to get the white tickets, and you can wait to see if you get swept up and get in earlier (ask me how I know), or you can just leave the line and relax until the time specified on the white tickets (which is what we were about to do when we got swept up and despite having some trouble locating our 2 guys, we were inside in WW of HP in less than 45 minutes).
Once inside, we headed straight over to “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” which is the only new ride inside WW of HP (“Dragon Challenge” is an updated version of the old “Dueling Dragons”, and “Flight of the Hippogriff” is an updated version of the old “Flying Unicorn”, so we didn’t bother with them). I have to say, the new ride was absolutely fantastic! I’m not going to say a thing about it ‘cuz I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
The wait was stated to be 90 minutes, and I think we did wait that long in the line outside, but from the second we hit the upstairs door to go inside, there WAS NO LINE! We were running along all the snaking, switch-back cattle corrals. When people in front of us would stop and take photos we then would get to stop and look around, see some of the marvelous stuff Universal had created, and hear some of the speeches from characters about the storyline until an employee would show up and tell us to “keep the line moving.”
The cattle corrals inside should have been shoulder to shoulder just like they were outside and I have no idea why they weren’t. People were stewing out in the heat and about half of them could have been inside in the A/C with us, filling up the empty corrals.
Universal has uniformly bad crowd control and this is just another example. It started at the beginning of the line when you entered the bottom floor, in the fricken dark, and had to either go right to storage lockers (in the dark) or left if you didn’t need to store anything (we never carry anything that needs storage), again into the dark, where there are people milling around waiting for people who were still storing stuff on the right, and where was the fricken line in all the chaos? There was only one employee and he was only concerned with shoving people towards lockers, not directing locker-free people towards the line. Mucho confusion reigned, but we bulled our way through to the light and out into the heat again. Gak! Doesn’t anyone from Universal ever sneak over to Disney and see how to do things right?
The lines to get into the shops were hideous, so we bought butterbeers (frozen slush, not sodas; very yummy and worth the extra buck) from a kiosk outside and went in search of lunch in Jurassic Park. We can do this ‘cuz we live here and have year-round passes. We’ll be going back in 2 weeks, toting relatives from up North, and then we’ll stay away until the touristas leave and we can explore everything at our leisure and in cooler weather.
Today’s trip was at the behest of my step-father’s pre-teen son, Nicky; he and his dad are “on vacation” and we figured, what the heck, let’s go check it out. I’m glad we did, ‘cuz it will make toting the incoming relatives much easier.
Last tips: We won’t be going first thing in the morning when the WW of HP line is the longest. Late afternoon is usually when the WW of HP line is shortest; that’s also when the water ride lines get really, really long. I’m sure you can imagine why. Also, there are HP souvenirs (like quidditch brooms, stuffed owls, chocolate frogs, etc.) in the last store on the right on your way out of the park if you absolutely have to buy something and can’t get into a store in the WW of HP. It’s all available on-line, too.