Harry Potter @ Universal

15 Jul

We’d seen the crowds of people in a stationary queue to get into the Harry Potter area of Universal Islands of Adventure the day before so were under no impression that it was going to be an easy of comfortable experience getting in there. It only opened on 20th June after all. So we planned a campaign. According to all available evidence the parks open at 9am so we got there for 8:30 and walked straight through. We hit the Harry Potter queue at the bridge over Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls, which is a whole Jurassic Park away from the entrance. According the the park staff the queue starts forming at 7:15 and they open it up at 8:45 so our campaign was a bit badly timed, however we were squeezed in there by 9:15.  And I mean squeezed.

They have around 30,000 people a day visiting this part of the the park and it aint big. Actually I was shocked at how aint big it is. And how little there is to do. Duelling Dragons has been rebranded as Dragon Challenge and the queue was 5 minutes, considerably shorter than the queue to get in, meaning Neil and the big kids managed to ride both the red and blue dragons whilst Paul and I baked in the early morning sun. We queued for Butterbeers which are absolutely delish, seriously sweet, a sort of cinammony cream soda with a vanilla cream “head”. I recommend a frozen one, the cold wasn’t cold enough really.

The Flight of the Unicorn ride has been rebranded as the Flight of the Hippogriff and had a 20 minute queue – Paul, my little thrill seeker, loved it. The actual Harry Potter ride itself had a hellish queue, it said 115 minutes but these things are rarely that accurate and since you had to be 48″ tall to ride we were not prepared to have Paul stand in a 2 hour queue for nothing more than a child swap.

The queue for Ollivander’s was equally daunting so at that point we left. There was nothing else to see and no way we were going to get into any of the little gift shoppes, no way. We could barely negotiate our way out through the crowds. All in all we spent less time IN the Harry Potter area than we spent queuing to GET in. Before visiting we couldn’t figure out why people would queue for so long (some later entries to the park queue for over an hour to get into HP) and not spend the rest of the day in there blocking any new entrants. Now we know… there’s not much there!

Which means the rest of Universal, the bits I love, look like this….

Yay for space!

This 14 day pass experience is a world away from our usual 3 day thing, I am loving that we can walk out of the park when it rains, or when it gets busy without the pressure of having to squeeze it all in. Today will be a pool day. Or a Mount Dora day. And tonight we’re going to go see if Harry Potter quietens down a bit after 7. I might even take the big camera out at last.

We need something child friendly for the weekend – it’s Paul’s 5th birthday on Saturday and we don’t want to spend it queuing!

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5 Responses to “Harry Potter @ Universal”

  1. Kelly July 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    I am a little disappointed that the Harry Potter section is so small. It’s pretty cool that it empties the rest of the park though 😉

    • MrsW July 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

      Major disappointment Kelly – it’s basically half of the old Lost Continent, I’m sure it will be pretty at night though – we’ve delayed trying that until Monday, Mondays are quieter (so we’ve heard)

    • mrsw July 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

      I take it all back – we went in at 7pm on Sunday and the queue for the HP ride was down to 45 minutes – the queue is fecking fab, the ride is fecking fabber – I would queue for 2 hours to get back in – amazing!

  2. If I Could Escape July 20, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    We’re planning on taking the boys in August, but I’m seriously reconsidering it as I am hearing how packed it it. Might mean Epcot is empty and we’ll do that instead coz that’s where my favourite ride is — Soarin’! Still not sure what to do.

  3. Dad Who Writes July 28, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    They’re building a whole theme park now, though, aren’t they? Perhaps we’ll hold out for that.

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