PotterWatch: Preliminary Diagon Alley Touring Plans

by 8 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Wizarding World of Harry Potter preliminary Diagon Alley touring plans

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is nearly ready — but are you? (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

With only two weeks to go before the worldwide media descends upon Universal Orlando for its unveiling of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, we already know plenty of things about the experience that awaits behind Universal Studios Florida‘s imposing new London Waterfront. We know about the E-ticket “multi-sensory thrill ride” inside the dragon-topped Gringotts bank; we know about the Hogwarts Express train that will transport guests to the original Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure; we know the names of that will line this magical shopping mall; we even know the varieties of pie (Seafood! Steak and Guinness!) and ice cream (Chocolate chili! Butterbeer!) you’ll be able to eat. So it’s no wonder that many of our subscribers have requested Diagon Alley touring plans to prepare them for their upcoming vacations. Unfortunately, we still lack two pieces of data vital to providing our usual expert advice: when we can get inside, and how long we’ll wait once we get there.

Through a combination of inside information, experience observing Universal’s operations since Potter arrived, and some educated guesses, we’ve devised the following preliminary Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley touring plans, along with a summary of our surmises about how the area will operate. Be aware that much of this is based on unofficial intel, and is subject to change before, during, and after the grand opening of the attraction.

Diagon Alley Opening Date…or Dates?

The fact that Universal Orlando has not yet (as of this writing) announced an official opening date for Diagon Alley is disquieting, but not disastrous. It is possible that Universal is delaying or downplaying the opening date, in order to disperse the massive crowds that accompanied the first Wizarding World’s grand opening in 2010 (see below).

There are a few dates that we know for sure:

  • The VIP and Media preview will be held June 17-20. Media is scheduled to be inside Diagon Alley on the evening of the 18th and the morning of the 19th.
  • Universal is currently selling vacation packages that include early entry to Diagon Alley and breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, starting June 29.

Logically, the official public opening should be somewhere between those dates, with recent online rumors pointing to June 26. One might assume that Universal would want to have the public grand opening while the media is present, in order to have them document the crowds. However, it appears (much like with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train media preview) that the event may be used to promote the expansion, with an official public opening occurring some time after.

 

Diagon Alley Technical Rehearsal (Soft Opening)

“Soft Openings” — or “Technical Rehearsals” in Universal lingo — are unannounced opportunities for park guests to experience a new attraction ahead of its official opening. Its purpose is not so much to please the fans, but to give the team members an opportunity to practice operations with live bodies, hopefully working out the bugs before the grand opening arrives.

Technical rehearsals may start at any time without warning, and stop again just as swiftly. There is absolutely no guarantee of getting in, or if you do, getting to experience anything, so don’t go running to guest services for a refund if the rides go down. It is very typical to have team members loudly telling you there there is no possibility of the attraction opening, and advising you to go elsewhere in the park, until seconds before they allow you entry. (Don’t be mad at the front-line employees for lying, they only know what their supervisors tell them).

Despite those trials, perseverance can pay off; I got into the original Wizarding World weeks before it officially opened, but suffered through days of fruitless standing outside the entrance before gaining admission. Note that this is only recommended for local annual passholders with too much time on their hands, and NOT advised for anyone burning valuable vacation time.

If Diagon Alley had followed the same opening schedule as Hogsmeade, we would have expected soft openings to have started by now. We do know that employees have already experienced “mock service” inside the shops and restaurants, as well as team member previews of the Hogwarts Express train. However, we’ve also heard they have yet to get the signature Gringotts ride to work up to optimal capacity, which has led some to speculate that the area might soft open without that attraction in operation. It is worth noting that Universal did not conduct public technical rehearsals of Hogsmeade in 2010 unless the Forbidden Journey ride inside Hogwarts castle was operational.

Soft openings were previously rumored to begin on Saturday, June 7. However, recent scuttlebutt has them pushed back a week to June 14, mere days before the media arrives. If soft openings do start before the media event, they are almost certain to cease until the VIPs have vamoosed.

If and when soft openings do start, we’ll let you know first via Twitter using the #PotterWatch hashtag.

 

Attending Diagon Alley on Opening Day

To those considering experiencing Diagon Alley’s grand opening (whenever that may be) in person, we have one word of advice: Don’t. Seriously, just don’t. According to the Orlando Sentinel, when the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on June 18, 2010:

The lines formed early after Universal opened its parking garage at 5:30 a.m. Within 30 minutes, more than 5,000 guests were at the turnstiles. They were then queued up in a long, snaking fashion through several “lands” of the park and out into Universal CityWalk.

Wizarding World opening day

Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening day crowds fill CityWalk outside Islands of Adventure on June 18, 2010 (photo by Orlando Sentinel)

Come on, look at that craziness. Do you really want to be in the middle of that? Your first visit to Diagon Alley will probably be a much more pleasant experience if it doesn’t come at the expense of a five-plus hour wait just to enter the park. Those are Frozen meet & greet-type times we’re talking about, people!

Plus, even if the grand opening does happen during the media event, the public will likely have little to no opportunity to see (much less interact with) any stars or celebrities. And if the grand opening happens later in the month, don’t count on a ton of hoopla or free goodies for the general guest.

Of course, there’s a certain excitement in being present for a premiere, and we’re sure some of our readers won’t be dissuaded by logic. If you are nuts enough to try to attend Diagon Alley’s opening day, here’s some advice:

  • CityWalk will shut down after 2 a.m. the night before the grand opening, and all guests will be swept out of the parking garage. There are several all-night eateries in the Kirkman Road/Major Boulevard area were you can wait until the garage reopens.
  • Better yet, get a hotel room on property.
  • Plan on getting to the gates of Universal Studios Florida around 5 a.m. The earlier the better!
  • Stay observant and watch more movement among the team members. Be aware of multiple lines forming, and feel free to ask an employee where you should be standing.
  • Be prepared for a long, hard wait. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and backup batteries for your cell phone.

Diagon Alley Admission Procedures

After a rocky first summer, in which Islands of Adventure was swamped with long queues of guests waiting to enter the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal instituted a series of crowd control gambits to manage the masses of eager Muggles. Over time, as the initial onslaught has slaked somewhat, Hogsmeade’s entry procedures were refined down to two basic systems:

Hogsmeade Normal Operations

On most days, there is no wait to access The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade. Guests can enter at will through either The Lost Continent or Jurassic Park.

Hogsmeade Peak Operations

On very busy days, once the Wizarding World reaches maximum occupancy (reportedly 4,000 guests), the entrance at Lost Continent is closed off, and the bridge to Jurassic Park becomes exit only. Guests wishing to circumnavigate the park are directed across another bridge directly connecting Lost Continent to Jurassic Park. Guests wishing to enter Hogsmeade may choose one of two options:

Return Time Tickets

Outside the Sindbad stunt show theater in Lost Continent you’ll find a bank of touchscreen kiosks used to dispense return time tickets. Select the number of guests in your party (up to 9) and pick from one of the offered return time windows; the machine dispenses a ticket (resembling Walt Disney World’s old paper FastPasses) with your return time printed on it. Return to the Lost Continent entrance into Hogsmeade at the appointed time, and you typically will be admitted with little delay. Note that (unlike FastPass) you do not need to scan an admission ticket to receive a time, and only one member of your party needs be present to retrieve a ticket.

Wizarding World return ticket

A sample Wizarding World return time ticket.

Standby

If guests do not wish to take a return time ticket, or all tickets have been distributed for the day, they can wait in a standby line that is established near the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. Because new guests are admitted to the Wizarding World only as others vacate, this line can move very slowly.

From observing how Universal has handled Hogsmeade operationally, we can predict how they may manage the masses at Diagon Alley. However, there is a magical twist that will make entering the newest Wizarding World a much different experience. Though we can’t reveal how it will work, every guest entering Diagon Alley will pass through the moving brick wall behind The Leaky Cauldron, just as Harry did in the first book. That means only one way into the area (though there will be multiple exits) and a sure-fire standby line to get in on even the slowest days.

With that in mind, here is how Universal may handle Diagon Alley entry:

Diagon Alley Normal Operations

Once the initial surge of attendance dies down — which may take many weeks or months — on a day of average attendance, we expect you will still experience at least a short wait before passing through the magical wall into Diagon Alley, even if arriving soon after opening. On more crowded days, the standby wait will surely be substantial; luckily, the London Waterfront facades are rumored to conceal hours worth of air-conditioned queueing space.

Diagon Alley maximum capacity is reported to be as much as double that of Hogsmeade, but we estimate it will still fill up quickly even during times of moderate attendance. That is thanks in part to the Early Entry offered for guests at all Universal onsite hotels (including the ginormous new Cabana Bay Beach Resort) as well as offsite guests purchasing special packages through Universal Vacations. Once that occupancy limit is reached, return time ticket kiosks located between Men In Black and Fear Factor Live will be made available. The kiosks operate identically to the ones described above. Guests with a valid return time ticket report to the gateway into the London Waterfront closest to Fear Factor Live, next to the Grimmauld Place facade. They will then be directed to a (hopefully) short queue before entering Diagon Alley.

Be aware that the above is only a discussion of getting into Diagon Alley. Once inside, you will find that Gringotts has a combination of elaborate interior queues and pedestrian outdoor switchbacks capable of corralling 3 1/2 hours worth of riders. There will also be queues (interior and exterior) established for all the shops, eateries, and other experiences. And Universal Express, which usually whisks users past queues, is useless for all the new Wizarding World attractions. In short, as the Mummy down the street says, your wait to enter Diagon Alley “is only the beginning!”

It’s important to note that if you exit Diagon Alley for any reason, you will have to rinse and repeat one of the previous procedures before reentering.

Diagon Alley Peak Operations

Take everything stated above, and multiply it by a billion. On peak capacity days — which in 2014 will likely run from opening until the fall, and again through the holidays — the return ticket kiosks will likely be operational from the minute the park opens, and should be your first destination. Return times should start at 30-45 minutes after retrieval at rope drop, and increase through mid-morning until they are 5 or more hours in the future.

Tickets may run out entirely by mid-afternoon, though guests willing to endure the epic standby line should always be able to enter, especially late in the day. If there is still an overflow of guests (as expected on opening day), they could be herded into the Fear Factor Live stadium, or organized in temporary backstage queues like those used during Halloween Horror Nights.

If you arrive on a peak day and see an endless line of people in black robes and pointy hats snaking along the lagoon, we suggest going to Finnegan’s Bar and ordering a stiff drink (followed by a bottle of water) before queuing up. If they argue that it’s only 9 a.m., tell ‘em we sent ya.

 

Hogwarts Express Operations

The wildcard in creating a Wizarding World touring plan is the Hogwarts Express. Both an attraction and inter-park transportation, the magical train with take guests on journey between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, with virtual windows and in-car effects enhancing the ride. Here are some important things to keep in mind about the Hogwarts Express:

  • A park-to-park ticket or annual pass is mandatory to ride the Hogwarts Express. Guests with single-park tickets will be able to upgrade their admission at ticket booths located at each train depot.
  • All Hogwarts Express rides are one-way only. If you wish to return to the park you departed from, you will be required to exit the train and requeue before reboarding.
  • There is no minimum height requirement or safety restraints on the train, but some oversized strollers or motorized wheelchairs may be prohibited for size reasons.
  • While the combined hourly rider capacity of both trains equals that of a typical E-Ticket ride, only half that number will be able to pass though each station. As a result we expect the waits for the Hogwarts Express to be as long or longer than that for Gringotts.

Most importantly, the Hogwarts Express loads and disembarks outside of the Wizarding World, and is not technically inside Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. While the King’s Cross train station is part of the same London facade as the entrance to Diagon Alley, there is no direct access from the train to Diagon Alley (or vice versa).

That means that guests wanting to ride the Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure will not have to first queue to enter Diagon Alley; there is a separate entrance through King’s Cross. Conversely, guests disembarking the train in King’s Cross will exit into the London area near the border with San Francisco, and need to get in line or retrieve a ticket if they wish to enter Diagon Alley. Likewise, on peak days when timed tickets are required to enter Hogsmeade, guests arriving at Hogsmeade Station will not be able to walk straight into the village without first waiting.

In short, if you thought you’d be clever and get a jump on the crowds outside Diagon Alley by taking the train in from Hogsmeade, fuggedaboutit. On the other hand, if you have a park-to-park ticket and want to take the ride, but aren’t uberpassionate about Potter lore, the Hogsmeade side is expected to have noticeably shorter waits than the London station, which has the amazing (but operationally restrictive) wall walk-through at Platform 9 3/4 to slow the line.

Finally, we’ve received word that guests will given boarding priority for their first one-way trip on the Hogwarts Express, but will be relegated to an even slower secondary standby line for subsequent rides. How exactly this will be handled — Once per day or per vacation? A separate pass or tied to your admission? — is still a mystery wrapped in an enigma stuffed inside a chocolate frog…

 

Preliminary Diagon Alley Touring Plan for Early Entry

If you’ve made it this far (2500 words and counting!) you’re probably anxious for us to boil this information overload down to some practical advice. For the TMI/TL;DR crowd, our #1 suggestion is to stay at an onsite hotel in order to secure early entry into the Wizarding World. This perk, which allows you inside select areas of the parks an hour before the general public, is worth its weight in goblin gold, especially since Universal Express passes (given free to guests of the 3 upscale onsite properties) aren’t valid for the Forbidden Journey or any new Diagon Alley attractions. It is also possible to book an offsite hotel package through Universal Vacations that includes early entry, but you’ll pay a premium for the privilege, and have to contend with getting to the resort early enough to make it worthwhile.

One unknown at this time is which Wizarding World will be available early on any given day. Universal team members have reported that both parks will participate in early entry every day, but the fine print on Universal hotel reservations indicate that only one park (of Universal’s choosing) will be available on each day. One possible scenario is that the four onsite hotels will alternate or rotate between the two parks, so that everyone doesn’t flock to Diagon Alley daily, leaving Hogsmeade empty. If that happens, it is unlikely that the Hogwarts Express would operate during early entry, because it would allow guests to cross over into the opposite attraction. If you are only booking one night onsite with the intention of using early entry at Diagon Alley, be sure to ask which Wizarding World you will be allowed into early during your stay.

Here is our preliminary touring plan for guests eligible to enter Diagon Alley early:

  1. Secure your park admission at least the day before your visit, either online or at your hotel’s ticket sales desk.
  2. Arrive at the front gates of Universal Studios Florida at least 90 to 105 minutes before the published public opening time, or 30 to 45 minutes before early entry begins. If staying onsite, leave 5 to 15 minutes walking time, or 10 to 20 minutes for water taxi or bus transfer.
  3. Line up at the rightmost available turnstile; ask a team member if you’re unsure which ones will be open.
  4. Once admitted to the park, proceed to the right towards the Studio Audience Center, then pass the restrooms and lockers to your left. Make a right onto Hollywood Boulevard and walk past Terminator 2/3D towards Mel’s Drive-In. Cut across Mel’s parking lot towards Transformers, then hug the lagoon to the right and follow it through San Francisco to the London Waterfront.
  5. Approach the entrance to Diagon Alley, disguised as the Leicester Square subway station. You will have to queue to enter Diagon Alley, but should not need a timed return ticket during the early entry hour.
  6. Once inside Diagon Alley, head straight up the main drag towards the fire-breathing dragon. If Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is operating, get in line for the ride. A single rider line is available, but it skips most of the exquisite effects-filled queue, so you should go standby on your first visit.
  7. If you are unable to experience a moderate family-friendly roller coaster with mild drops and simulator-style movements, you should still ask if a non-riding “bank tour” is offered so that you can experience the Gringotts queue.
  8. At a window outside Gringotts, you can exchange your Muggle money for Wizarding bank notes, which may be spent throughout the resort. The interactive animatronic goblin in the queue makes this literally the world’s most entertaining and elaborate cash grab; expect the line to move glacially slow.
  9. Find the queue for Olivander’s Wand Shop, and wait for the show inside. The experience is virtually identical to the annex found in Hogsmeade, but there are three performance spaces so the line should move at triple the pace.
  10. Head down Horizont Alley to find the entry to Knockturn Alley. Explore the shop Borgin & Burkes, and the other dark corners concealed therein.
  11. Browse the other shops in Diagon Alley, starting with Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, Magical Menagerie, and Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. There may be queues for most of the stores, but you should be able to enter Wiseacre’s Wizarding Supplies at any time, since it serves as the exit to Gringotts.
  12. If you want to have breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, you can book it with your vacation package or through your onsite hotel’s ticket desk. Book your reservation for as late in the morning as possible in order to make the most of the less-crowded early hours.
  13. If you want ice cream for breakfast, grab a scoop from Florean Fortescue’s as soon as it opens, as the queue will grow quickly.  You may also want to try the elixir powders and gillywater sold in Carkitt Market.
  14. Speaking of Carkitt Market, be on the lookout for two live shows performing throughout the day. One is a musical appearance by magical jazz songstress Celestina Warbeck; the other is a reenactment of two fables from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, told with Michael Curry-designed puppets reminiscent of the “Three Brothers” scene from the seventh film. Showtimes may not be posted, but the acts should alternate every half hour.
  15. Once you’ve exhausted the entertainment in Diagon Alley, either exit to the right if you want to take the Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure; or turn left towards Fear Factor Live and retrieve a timed return ticket if you plan to visit Diagon Alley again in the afternoon. Before leaving the London waterfront, be sure to stop by the Knight Bus and watch its conductor kibitz with the talking shrunken heads hanging from his mirror.
  16. If you are remaining in Universal Studios Florida, pick up one of our standard one-day touring plans, starting with Despicable Me, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, and Transformers The Ride 3-D. Guests with Universal Express will be able to breeze through the plan. Those without Express may find Despicable Me’s standby wait prohibitive, and wish to save it for late in the day, but waits for the park’s other major rides are expected to decrease as guests gravitate towards Diagon Alley. The exception may be the nearby MIB and Simpsons attractions, which could see some spillover attendance.
  17. After you complete your touring plan, consider returning to Diagon Alley in the last hour that the park is open, when crowds should be lighter and the lighting should be spectacular.

Preliminary Diagon Alley Touring Plan for General Admission

For the majority of guests, Diagon Alley will already be full of early entrants no matter what time they arrive. Even so, offsite early birds with a good touring plan will still have an advantage over those who stroll in hours after rope drop, especially during peak season.

  1. Secure your admission ticket before arriving at the resort, preferably online. If you purchased tickets though universal’s website, you may use a credit card to retrieve your tickets from the automated will-call kiosks outside the entrance. Whatever you do, don’t waste time on the morning of your visit lining up at the ticket booths.
  2. Arrive at the front gates of Universal Studios Florida at least 60 to 90 minutes before the published public opening time. Leave at least 15 to 20 minutes to park your car and walk through CityWalk from the parking garage.
  3. Line up at the rightmost available turnstile; ask a team member if you’re unsure which ones will be open.
  4. Once admitted to the park, proceed to the right towards the Studio Audience Center, then pass the restrooms and lockers to your left. Make a right onto Hollywood Boulevard and walk past Terminator 2/3D and the Horror Makeup Show towards KidZone. Continue left past Animal Actors through the Simpsons area, walk to Men In Black, and find the timed return ticket kiosks between MIB and Fear Factor Live.
  5. Retrieve a timed return ticket for Diagon Alley entry. Chose the earliest available time slot offered by the kiosk. Remember that you don’t need your admission passes or other members of your party to use the ticket kiosk.
  6. While waiting for your return ticket to activate, you have two options. A) If your return time is three or more hours in the future, and you have a park-to-park pass, take the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross to Islands of Adventure. Use a touring plan there until it’s time for you Diagon Alley appointment, leaving at least 20-25 minutes to walk back from the other park. B) If your Diagon Alley return time is less than three hours away, or you don’t have a park-to-park ticket, follow one of our Universal Studios Florida touring plans until your return window approaches. Guests without Express may find Despicable Me’s standby wait prohibitive, and wish to save it for late in the day, but waits for the park’s other major rides are expected to decrease as guests gravitate towards Diagon Alley. The exception may be the nearby MIB and Simpsons attractions, which could see some spillover attendance.
  7. When your return time arrives (or immediately upon entry if by some miracle attendance is so slow the kiosks are not in use) enter the London area through the gateway closest to Fear Factor Live, next to the Grimmauld Place facade. You will be directed to (hopefully) brief queue before entering Diagon Alley through the magical moving bricks.
  8. Once inside Diagon Alley, head straight up the main drag towards the fire-breathing dragon. If Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is operating, get in line for the ride. A single rider line is available, but it skips most of the exquisite effects-filled queue, so you should go standby on your first visit.
  9. If you are unable to experience a moderate family-friendly roller coaster with mild drops and simulator-style movements, you should still ask if a non-riding “bank tour” is offered so that you can experience the Gringotts queue.
  10. At a window outside Gringotts, you can exchange your Muggle money for Wizarding bank notes, which may be spent throughout the resort. The interactive animatronic goblin in the queue makes this literally the world’s most entertaining and elaborate cash grab; expect the line to move glacially slow.
  11. Find the queue for Olivander’s Wand Shop, and wait for the show inside. The experience is virtually identical to the annex found in Hogsmeade, but there are three performance spaces so the line should move at triple the pace.
  12. Head down Horizont Alley to find the entry to Knockturn Alley. Explore the shop Borgin & Burkes, and the other dark corners concealed therein.
  13. Browse the other shops in Diagon Alley, starting with Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, Magical Menagerie, and Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. There may be queues for most of the stores, but you should be able to enter Wiseacre’s Wizarding Supplies at any time, since it serves as the exit to Gringotts.
  14. Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron may be restricted to onsite guests and pre-purchased vacation package holders, but anyone can eat lunch or dinner there without a reservation. Seating capacity is limited, so minimize your wait by eating before 11:30 a.m., between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., or after 8 p.m..
  15. For dessert, grab a scoop from Florean Fortescue’s, but be warned that the wait may be quite long for most of the day. You may also want to try the elixir powders and gillywater sold in Carkitt Market.
  16. Speaking of Carkitt Market, be on the lookout for two live shows performing throughout the day. One is a musical appearance by magical jazz songstress Celestina Warbeck; the other is a reenactment of two fables from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, told with Michael Curry-designed puppets reminiscent of the “Three Brothers” scene from the seventh film. Showtimes may not be posted, but the acts should alternate every half hour.
  17. Once you’ve exhausted the entertainment in Diagon Alley, exit to the right if you want to take the Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure (if you didn’t do so earlier); or turn left towards Fear Factor Live and retrieve another timed return ticket if you plan to visit Diagon Alley again in the afternoon. Before leaving the London waterfront, be sure to stop by the Knight Bus and watch its conductor kibitz with the talking shrunken heads hanging from his mirror.
  18. If you are remaining in Universal Studios Florida, continue following your touring plan from where you left off earlier. If crowds are heavy, focus on shows and walk-through attractions during the middle of the day, saving the popular rides for after the masses start departing en masse.
  19. After you complete your touring plan, consider returning to Diagon Alley in the last hour that the park is open, when crowds should be lighter and the lighting should be spectacular.

 

One Final Twist: Interactive Wands

Observant readers may have noted that we compiled this guide without any reference to one major rumored component of the Wizarding World expansion: interactive wand. We have it on good (if unofficial) authority that magic wands embedded with electronic sensors will be sold in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, that will enable their buyers to activate hidden special effects throughout the Wizarding Worlds with a flick of their wrist.

It sounds like an amazing concept, but at this time we have absolutely no idea how it will be handled from an operational perspective, or even if it will premiere with the rest of the Diagon Alley attractions. If not priced and managed properly, its easy to imagine this magical experience degenerating into long lines of guests blocking traffic as the flail frustratedly at facade windows.

When more details about the interactive wand experience (including what its official name is, and how much it will cost) we will update our touring plans. But until we have more reliable reports on how and when you’ll be able to experience this facet of the Wizarding World, we’ll focus on the parts we know will be generally available on opening day. From what’s we’ve seen so far, that should be more than enough to make even Professor Snape smile.

 

 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Posted on June 6, 2014

8 Responses to “PotterWatch: Preliminary Diagon Alley Touring Plans”

  • I wonder: if both parks offer early admission on the same day, what if you entered IoA, took Hogwart’s Express to USF, then entered Diagon Alley. Would that put you way behind the crowds at USF? There doesn’ seem to be a good way to do low waits at Hogwart’s Express AND at Diagon Alley on the same day. You’d need two days. Hmm, you don’t suppose the experts at UOR thought of that, do you? :)

    • You are correct Chris, there will be no easy way to do both Hogwarts Express trips in one day (or maybe even 1 vacation). Even if you are allowed in both parks during the same early entry day, you will be far behind the crowds once you cross to the other park. The most efficient plan will be to focus on one land per morning.

      • It seems a good scenario might be if IoA has early open and USF does not. Enter IoA with the early birds, get in line for HE, then head over to DA and, at worst, be at DA when the regular admission crowds arrive at DA from the USF gates. Maybe. I think.

  • How intense will Gringotts be? I heard that there is a drop on the ride. Will there be more than one? How tall is the drop? Will it be less physically intense as Forbidden Journey? When it comes to physical thrills, will it be on the same plane as Big Thunder? I know that it will be a much more advanced, themed, and visually thrilling ride than BTM. I’m just asking about physical thrill levels. Sorry for asking so many questions. Its just that I am a big scaredy cat when it comes to roller coasters. I have a weak stomach and coasters make me feel sick. Thanks again for everything, Seth! You’re the best when it comes to this stuff.

    • Michael, exact statistics on Gringotts are a closely held secret, but the 42″ height restriction puts it slightly above Big Thunder and below Mummy or Space Mountain. We know there are no loops or giant drops, and that it is more dark ride than coaster. There is one drop at the beginning (not very steep or tall, but an unusual design) and a couple launches. Hopefully we’ll know more in a week or so!

  • This sounds completely terrifying, but is very welcome for planning ideas! My husband and I are planning a trip Feb 2015 and we will be staying on property at Hard Rock, but what are your thoughts about how crazy the crowds still might be at that time? I like to be prepared and I know the crowds at the WWOHP – Hogsmeade didn’t die down for months after its initial opening!

  • Now that July 8 has been announced, I came back to reread the offsite touring plan. I’ll be there the week after July 8 (by total coincidence–didn’t know it would be such a close shave!). I do wish there was some way I could manage a night at CBBR to get early entry, but I’ll have to do the best I can as a day guest.