The brand new Universal Orlando attraction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley, is officially open as of this morning! Enthusiastic fans showed up at 4 AM EST for an 8 AM EST open… and lines at the time of this writing were reportedly 5 hours to check out the second Harry Potter themed adventure at Universal Orlando in Florida.
This latest Harry Potter themed area is at Universal Studios, where as the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade is at Universal Islands of Adventure – the sister park walking distance away. It becomes less confusing once you visit. And visit recently, I did!
Here is a photo of what it looks like, without any of the barricades.
There are plenty of articles to describe Diagon Alley, and what the fanfare is about, but I want to share with you things I discovered about which you may not read.
1) Because Walt Disney World Resort is also in Orlando, and offers so many amazing resorts of all different price points and themes, many visitors stay at a Disney hotel and then venture over to Universal. BUT – if you stay at a Universal upper-end, premium resort, you get perks that even Disney hotels don’t offer to it’s own parks.
For instance – —Fastpasses to all the rides except Harry Potter.
—-Early admittance to Harry Potter Hogsmeade (not the newer Harry Potter Diagon Alley) . Enter the park an hour before open to experience one of the most popular attractions there.
—-$20 off ticket price that you would pay buying at the park
2) Having said that, let me dig a little deeper into those perks. You will read different things on various forums as to whether the Fastpasses are worth it. I found them to be worth it. Lines to rides were significantly shorter. If you stay only one night at a Universal resort, you still get two fast passes if you buy a 2 day ticket.
3) The other perk: Early admittance to Harry Potter Hogsmeade: Not worth it. And don’t be fooled into thinking you get on all the rides with this early admittance – just Harry Potter Hogsmeade.
We went in the park the hour early, and there was still an hour wait for the Harry Potter rides. But – we were there for two nights, and each night at around 8PM we could walk right up to the rides, with NO line. It is very cool to ride the Harry Potter Dragon Challenge roller coaster watching the sun set by the way. So sleep in and visit Hogsmeade later in the day.
4) If you visit in summer when it is very very hot and humid, start at the park around 2 PM… It is so pleasant right around 4 until closing, and the lines were a lot shorter, and you can still see a lot of the parks.
5) It can rain a lot in summer. Some roller coasters close in the rain – so AS SOON as you see some dark clouds, head for some of the indoor rides, especially at Universal Studios where there are many 3D rides. The lines for those attractions grow longer once the other rides close temporarily for rain.
6) Some of the food concessions don’t stay open until closing, but City Walk, the stores and restaurants you walk through to get to Islands of Adventure stays open late. If you don’t want to leave the park to go to City Walk, plan accordingly.
7) This is my OMG tip: Parents, pace yourselves. There are SO many 3D rides and coasters that shake and spin you, if you go on all of them like I did, you may be feeling woozy. But don’t miss Spiderman. Avant -garde when it opened about a decade ago, it is still my favorite ride For detailed information about the fan-crazed opening to Diagon Alley, and details about the attraction, visit www.Orlandoinformer.com or www.Universalorlando.com
Happy summer travels!