New Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Touring Plans

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Diagon Alley touring plans

Massive crowds await inside the Gringotts bank. Be prepared with our new Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley touring plans! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

It’s been a little over a week since the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, and Universal Studios Florida‘s blockbuster new attraction continues to attract astoundingly oversized crowds. While you won’t find the massive queue clogging park walkways that accompanied the opening of the original Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure, thanks to greatly improved crowd control procedures, guests are still waiting upwards of 5 hours on a daily basis just to Escape from Gringotts. While the new “multidimensional” thrill machine is certainly a marvel, we here at Touring Plans are congenitally allergic to advising any of our readers to invest half their vacation day in any one attraction, at the expense of experiencing everything else that Universal has to offer. In that spirt, we offer our newly updated Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Touring Plans, along with a comprehensive commentary with everything you need to know in order to open your magical bank account with a bare minimum (relatively speaking) of waiting.

The following Diagon Alley touring plans are based on first-hand observations conducted during pre-opening media previews, soft openings, and daily operations during grand opening week. The plans were optimized based on a peak day (9.5 out of 10 on our crowd calendar) and may need modification once off-season arrives with shorter hours. As operational patterns evolve, we’ll continue to update our plans for maximum efficiency.

These plans will also shortly be available as premium plans on TouringPlans.com and in our Lines app, so subscribers will be able to copy and edit them at will. Be aware that our system is not yet able to properly account for the queuing and return time tickets required to enter Diagon Alley, and may therefore return inappropriate results for that area’s attractions; for the moment, we recommend editing the attraction order manually through our website, and using “evaluate” instead of “optimize” for Diagon Alley plans.

Wizarding World 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 slaked, 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

Near the Discovery Center in Jurassic Park, in the old queue for the former Triceratops Trail attraction, 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 two offered hour-long return time windows, typically starting 2 hours apart (e.g., “10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.”) 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.

Sample return time ticket for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Sample return time ticket for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

wpid-Photo-20140717172126.jpg

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. The standby line is only offered on the most crowded days, and has not been needed during Diagon Alley’s debut season.

 

Diagon Alley Entry Procedures

On slow days, you may be enter the London area in front of Diagon Alley from either end without restriction, but those days are likely to be few and far between for the foreseeable future. Even after the initial surge of attendance dies down — which may take many weeks or months — on a day of average attendance we still expect you will experience at least a short wait before passing through the magical wall into Diagon Alley, even if arriving immediately after opening. At all but the slowest times, guests may only enter London via the gateway nearest Fear Factor Live, with the end closest to King’s Cross normally reserved for exiting guests only.

On crowded days, the standby wait simply to enter the London area has been estimated at up to six hours in the mornings, with a queue (complete with snack vendors and giant screens showing the NBC “Making Of Diagon Alley” special in and endless loop) stretching backstage behind the MEN IN BLACK and Fear Factor Live attractions.

Diagon Alley maximum capacity is reported to be as much as double that of Hogsmeade, but it will still fill up quickly even during times of moderate attendance. That is thanks in large 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.

The typical daily pattern of admission operations at Diagon Alley is as follows:

  1. USF park turnstiles open at least 90 minutes prior to official park opening. Early Entry guests are permitted to walk towards Despicable Me and held near Shrek. Day guests are directed down Hollywood and held near the Horror Makeup Show.
  2. Early Entry guests are walked through KidZone and Springfield towards MEN IN BLACK, then queued to enter the London area near Fear Factor Live. Guests are gradually released into London, with the first guests entering Diagon Alley and queuing for Gringotts just as the early entry hour begins. The last of the Early Entry guests to arrive may not enter Diagon Alley until the hour is almost over.
  3. Around the official opening time, day guests are walked through KidZone and Springfield towards MEN IN BLACK, and queued near Fear Factor live behind any remaining Early Entry guests. As the queue grows throughout the morning, arriving guests may be directed to join it through backstage gates between MEN IN BLACK and Fear Factor Live, or MEN IN BLACK and The Simpsons Ride; look for employees holding large blue directional signs in the World Expo area.
  4. As soon as Diagon Alley reaches maximum capacity, which should be shortly after opening on peak days, the return time kiosks between MEN IN BLACK and Fear Factor Live will be activated. The kiosks operate identically to the ones described above, and there is rarely more than a minute wait to access them. Guests with a valid return time ticket report directly to the gateway into the London Waterfront next to the Grimmauld Place facade, bypassing the standby queue near Fear Factor Live. Typically return ticket holders will then enter with no delay, but at certain times a return queue can stretch along the waterfront embankment towards King’s Cross station; don’t worry, it should move quickly.
  5. Even on the busiest days, return ticket distribution ceases in mid-afternoon, and the standby line dwindles shortly thereafter. On almost any day, you should be able to enter London unimpeded. For this reason, we strongly recommend that unless you can be among the first into Diagon Alley during early entry, save the area until the end of your day.

 

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 over 4,000 riders. There are 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 also important to note that if you exit the London area for any reason, you will have to rinse and repeat one of the previous procedures before reentering.

 

You can try to enter Diagon Alley after the park opens and face a queue like this...

You can try to enter Diagon Alley after the park opens and face a queue like this…

...or you can wait until late afternoon and just waltz in.

…or you can follow our plan to wait until late afternoon and just waltz in.

 

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Operations

Most guests upon entering Diagon Alley will stop and stare at the fire-breathing dragon at the top of the street, then sprint towards it to jump in the line for Escape from Gringotts, the area’s signature E-Ticket. In the ride’s early days of operations, wait times have leapt to two hours within minutes of the Early Entry guests’ arrival, and risen to 300 or more minutes by mid-morning; on the busiest days, wait times up to 450 minutes (7 1/2 hours!!!) have been posted.

 

Gringotts waits range from long but reasonable...

Gringotts waits range from long but reasonable…

...to absolutely ridonculous.

…to absolutely ridonculous.

These absurdly long waits reflect the intense popularity of the new attraction, which is more accessible than Forbidden Journey to guests unable or unwilling to brave more intense thrill rides, compounded by capacity limitations which should hopefully prove temporary. On opening day, the attraction was operating with only 3 vehicle trains, and a theoretical hourly capacity of only about 700 riders. A week later, the attraction was running 5 trains and moving almost 1000 guests per hour; eventually, it should be able to run 9 trains simultaneously for a healthy maximum hourly throughput of over 2000 riders.

As fantastic as the ride is (and it rates as “5 stars/not to be missed” in our book) no mere attraction could live up to a 5+ hour wait. Until capacity improves and crowds die down, if you want to ride Gringotts without wasting half of your very expensive park day in a single queue, you only have two options:

  1. Be among the very first guests to arrive for Early Entry, and get in line for Gringotts as soon as the doors open. As long as you are among the first few hundred inside Diagon Alley, you should be in and out of Gringotts before Early Entry ends. Be warned that this plan can backfire if overnight maintenance issues delay the ride’s opening. If employees inform you that the ride is not yet running when Early Entry begins, don’t bother getting in the queue; instead, check back later in the day.
  2. If you are not eligible for Early Entry, or are eligible but unable to arrive at least an hour before it begins, don’t even bother with Diagon Alley until later in the day. Experience the rest of the park’s attractions, then visit Diagon Alley in the late afternoon, when you should be able to enter London without a standby wait or return ticket. The Gringotts queue tends to shorten starting around 5 p.m. Don’t wait too long, however, because if the total wait exceeds the operating hours remaining in the day, the Gringotts queue may close to new riders as early as 3 hours before park closing.

A final trick for reducing your Gringotts wait is to use the “single rider queue,” which is typically about 25% of the standby wait. Note that the singles line bypasses all of the queue elements used to set up the story, including the preshow elevator simulation, and is therefore strongly discouraged for first-time riders. In addition, the singles line may be closed intermittently when it reaches maximum capacity; usually it reopens after a half hour or so, once the line has diminished.

 

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 takes guests on journey between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, with virtual windows and in-car effects enhancing the ride. The best news is that, thanks to a combination higher-than-anticipated capacity and lower-than-expected demand, waits for the Hogwarts Express have been far lower than we initially feared, with posted times hovering at or below 20 minutes during most of the day. 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 are 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 station and re-queue before re-boarding.
  • There is no minimum height requirement or safety restraints on the train, and personal strollers and motorized wheelchairs may be brought on board. Rental strollers must be dropped off and exchanged for new ones at the train station exit.
  • At peak times, Universal has plans to restrict guests to one one-way train trip per day, with those wishing to re-ride consigned to a secondary queue with twice the wait of the standard line. However, wait times for the train have proved much lower than expected, so this re-ride policy has not yet been enforced.

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 do 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 if 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 uber-passionate about Potter lore, the Hogsmeade side usually has noticeably shorter waits than the London station, which has the amazing wall walk-through photo-op at Platform 9 3/4 to slow the line.

Because the Hogwarts Express rarely exceeds half an hour between mid-morning and mid-afternoon, we suggest park-to-park passholders take the trip any time after they have experienced the park’s other top attractions. However, we have noted that the wait times tend to rise as evening approaches, so don’t wait too late in the day before riding.

 

Universal Studios Florida Diagon Alley Touring Plan for Early Entry

For visitors whose top touring priority is Harry Potter (or anyone who wants to experience Gringotts with less than a 2 hour wait), 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.

Early Entry is available to all eligible guests every morning at both parks, with no restrictions (at this time) on which hotel guests can get into Diagon Alley on any given day. The only attractions operating during the Entry Entry hours are the Wizarding World rides (including the Hogwarts Express), plus Despicable Me at USF and Cat in the Hat at IoA.

As a result, a substantial proportion of the guests in Universal’s 4000 hotel rooms descend upon Diagon Alley and Gringotts as soon as the gates open. Therefore, if you want to participate in Early Entry, you must be on a bus or boat as soon as the resort transportation begins operating, 2 hours prior to official park opening.

Note that this plan is designed for guests without Express passes, such as those staying at Cabana Bay. It therefore requires a lot of “bouncing around” and criss-crossing the park in order to stay ahead of the building standby queues. Guests staying at the three luxury hotels with free Express access will be able to deviate freely from the touring plan after completing the early entry steps, and should encounter minimal waits at most attractions.

Here is our 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. Be waiting for the first bus or boat from your hotel, which should depart 120 minutes before the published public opening time. If you are staying at the Hard Rock Hotel it is quickest to walk via the path from the main pool.
  3. Arrive at the front gates of Universal Studios Florida at least 110 minutes before the published public opening time, or 50 minutes before early entry begins.
  4. Line up at the shortest available turnstile queue; ask a team member if you’re unsure which ones will be open.
  5. Once admitted to the park, proceed straight past Despicable Me, showing your hotel room key card to the employees stationed there. You will be held near the Shrek attraction, then walked through World Expo to the queue outside Fear Factor Live. Be cautious while walking; barricades near Simpsons and MEN IN BLACK serve as “pinch points” and can be hard to see through the moving crowd until you are pushed up against them.
  6. Enter London through the gateway outside Grimmauld Place, and approach the entrance to Diagon Alley, disguised as the Leicester Square subway station.
  7. Once inside Diagon Alley, if Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is operating, get in line for the ride. You may be diverted to the right through Carkitt Market to avoid congesting the main thoroughfare; otherwise, make a beeline for the bank below the fire-breathing dragon.
  8. By the time you exit Gringotts, Early Entry should be nearly over. Exit Diagon Alley towards King’s Cross Station, then cross through San Francisco towards the front of the park.
  9. Get to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit just as the park is officially opening and be among the first to ride it.
  10. Exit Rockit to the left towards New York and ride Revenge of the Mummy.
  11. After exiting the Mummy, walk towards the lagoon and follow it counter-clockwise to Springfield. Experience The Simpsons Ride.
  12. Turn right upon leaving The Simpsons and ride MEN IN BLACK.
  13. Cross the waterfront past London back to San Francisco and see Disaster! If you are on track you should be able to catch the first tour of the day.
  14. Exit Disaster! to the right and ride Transformers.
  15. Walk past Mel’s Drive-In and cut through the Garden of Allah villas to experience the E.T. Adventure.
  16. Retrace your steps and continue past Shrek to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. This will be a long wait, but it isn’t much better minutes after opening, and won’t drop significantly until closing time.
  17. Take a break for an early lunch. Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield is your best bet for counter-service, or try Finnegan’s in New York for a sit-down meal for not much more money.
  18. After lunch see the first Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mashup of the day.
  19. Cross through New York and experience Twister.
  20. See the next available performances of Animal Actors and the Horror Makeup Show.
  21. Between the shows, see Shrek 4-D.
  22. Experience Terminator 2/3-D in Hollywood.
  23. You should be able to complete the above steps between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. At that point, you should be able to freely enter Diagon Alley without a wait.
  24. Return to Diagon Alley and explore the shops and sites, starting with 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 moves at triple the pace; you should rarely wait more than 10 minutes for a show. After the show, purchase an interactive wand if you want to play with the magical effects hidden around the Wizarding World.
  25. At a shop in Carkitt Market 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; the wait here is usually around 15 minutes.
  26. Head down Horizont Alley to find the entry to Knockturn Alley. Explore the shop Borgin & Burkes, and the other dark corners concealed therein. Be sure to look at the map that came with your interactive wand under the blacklight in here to discover hidden messages.
  27. 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.
  28. 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 the “Three Brothers” fable from The Tales of Beedle the Bard (as seen in the seventh film), retold with Michael Curry-designed puppets. Showtimes are not posted, but the acts should alternate every half hour on the hour and half.
  29. Have dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. Eat an early meal to avoid crowds, but even at peak times the line moves swiftly.
  30. If you want ice cream for dessert, grab a scoop from Florean Fortescue’s. You may also want to try the elixir powders and gillywater sold in Carkitt Market, or the specialty beers and non-alcoholic cocktails at the Fountain of Fair Fortune and Hopping Pot.
  31. If you want another ride on Gringotts, get in the single rider queue before it closes for the night. This may happen as early as 2 or 3 hours before park closing, depending on how long the standby queue is.
  32. Once you’ve exhausted the entertainment in Diagon Alley, exit into London. Chat with the Knight Bus conductor and his shrunken heads on your way out of Diagon Alley. Also look for Kreacher in the window of 12 Grimmauld Place, and dial 62442 (MAGIC) in the red telephone booth.
  33. Revisit any attractions outside Diagon Alley that you skipped earlier or wish to repeat.
  34. Find a spot along the lagoon to watch the Cinematic Spectacular show five or ten minutes before the performances. Good vantage points can be found near London, Beetlejuice, Transformers, and in Central Park.

 

Universal Studios Florida Diagon Alley Touring Plan for General Admission

Diagon Alley will already be full of early entrants no matter what time offsite guests arrive. Early birds without Early Entry should therefore avoid the herd heading to queue outside London, and instead take advantage of lower waits in the rest of the park while saving Potter for the evening.

Note that this plan is designed for guests without Express passes. It therefore requires a lot of “bouncing around” and criss-crossing the park in order to stay ahead of the building standby queues. Guests who purchase Express access will be able to deviate freely from the touring plan after completing the early entry steps, and should encounter minimal waits at most attractions.

  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 30 to 45 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 shortest available turnstile queue.
  4. Once admitted to the park, the majority of day guests will turn right down Hollywood Boulevard to await entry to Diagon Alley. Instead, proceed straight past Despicable Me and ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit as soon as the attraction opens.
  5. Exit Rockit to the left towards New York and ride Revenge of the Mummy.
  6. After exiting the Mummy, walk towards the lagoon and follow it counter-clockwise to Springfield. Experience The Simpsons Ride.
  7. Turn right upon leaving The Simpsons and ride MEN IN BLACK.
  8. Cross the waterfront past London back to San Francisco and see Disaster! If you are on track you should be able to catch the first tour of the day.
  9. Exit Disaster! to the right and ride Transformers.
  10. Walk past Mel’s Drive-In and cut through the Gardens of Allah buildings to experience the E.T. Adventure.
  11. Retrace your steps and continue past Shrek to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. This will be a long wait, but it isn’t much better minutes after opening, and won’t drop significantly until closing time.
  12. Take a break for an early lunch. Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield is your best bet for counter-service, or try Finnegan’s in New York for a sit-down meal for not much more money.
  13. After lunch see the first Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mashup of the day.
  14. Cross through New York and experience Twister.
  15. See the next available performances of Animal Actors and the Horror Makeup Show.
  16. Between the shows, see Shrek 4-D.
  17. Experience Terminator 2/3-D in Hollywood.
  18. You should be able to complete the above steps between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. At that point, you should be able to freely enter Diagon Alley without a wait.
  19. Visit Diagon Alley and explore the shops and sites, starting with 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 moves at triple the pace; you should rarely wait more than 10 minutes for a show. After the show, purchase an interactive wand if you want to play with the magical effects hidden around the Wizarding World.
  20. At a shop in Carkitt Market 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; the wait here is usually around 15 minutes.
  21. Head down Horizont Alley to find the entry to Knockturn Alley. Explore the shop Borgin & Burkes, and the other dark corners concealed therein. Be sure to look at the map that came with your interactive wand under the blacklight in here to discover hidden messages.
  22. 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.
  23. 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 the “Three Brothers” fable from The Tales of Beedle the Bard (as seen in the seventh film), retold with Michael Curry-designed puppets. Showtimes are not posted, but the acts should alternate every half hour on the hour and half.
  24. Have dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. Eat an early meal to avoid crowds, but even at peak times the line moves swiftly.
  25. If you want ice cream for dessert, grab a scoop from Florean Fortescue’s. You may also want to try the elixir powders and gillywater sold in Carkitt Market, or the specialty beers and non-alcoholic cocktails at the Fountain of Fair Fortune and Hopping Pot.
  26. Step into the Gringotts queue before it closes for the night. This may happen as early as 2 or 3 hours before park closing, depending on how long the standby queue is. If this is your first trip through the bank, be sure to experience the entire standby queue; otherwise, use single riders if available.
  27. Once you’ve exhausted the entertainment in Diagon Alley, exit into London. Chat with the Knight Bus conductor and his shrunken heads on your way out of Diagon Alley. Also look for Kreacher in the window of 12 Grimmauld Place, and dial 62442 (MAGIC) in the red telephone booth.
  28. Revisit any attractions outside Diagon Alley that you skipped earlier or wish to repeat.
  29. Find a spot along the lagoon to watch the Cinematic Spectacular show five or ten minutes before the performances. Good vantage points can be found near London, Beetlejuice, Transformers, and in Central Park.

Check back soon for the second part in this series, featuring our most frequently requested touring plans: comprehensive two-park plans covering the entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

 

 

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Posted on July 19, 2014

16 Responses to “New Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Touring Plans”

  • Thank you so much for this detailed article! Our whole trip at the end of August is based on riding the Hogwarts Express and buying wands. I did plan on sneaking into Diagon Alley via the train, so I have to re-think my strategy there, but I think my family will walk away satisfied. As long as I get to enjoy my Duff beer, I’ll be happy!

  • Seth thank you for posting your adventures in Diagon Alley! We are heading there the middle of Aug. hopefully the crowds will be lower by then. Our only must is grinotts and the Express! Between staying on property and this new plan I think we will be able to accomplish this.

  • I can report that my non-EE visit to Diagon Alley went reasonably well on Monday, July 7. I got to the turnstiles just after 7:00 a.m., queued up with the other day guests near the makeup show, and finally made it to the Gringotts queue. The posted wait time there was 210 minutes (a bit better than I expected, actually.) However, the actual total wait time from entering the queue to exiting the ride building was about 150 minutes. Plus I was able to avoid the non-shaded portion of the queue entirely, no small consideration in July. So if you lack the patience for the recommended late-afternoon approach to Gringotts, you might get lucky.

    • Glad to hear you got so lucky Steve! What were the lines like in the rest of the park when you got out of Diagon? This plan is designed to let you see as much of the park as possible in 1 day, but if your #1 priority is seeing only Gringotts then go for it!

      PS Diagon Alley didn’t open until July 8. Did you mean to say Monday 7/14?

      • Oops sorry, that should have said Monday, July *14*. My mental calendar isn’t working today.

        And yes, I suppose my main goal was seeing the DA attractions with other things taking low priority. After Gringotts I was able to eat at the Leaky Cauldron, followed by walking through Knockturn Alley, ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s, Gringotts Money Exchange, Ollivanders, and the HEx. None of the post-Gringotts attractions had any lines to speak of — I would say the longest was maybe 15 minutes. The snack shop inside the HEx queue was looking a bit forlorn, as there weren’t nearly enough people in line to stretch back there and people just walked on by.

  • I do think that Park-to-park personalized touring plans should be possible to be made since the universal parks are so close and it’s very common people visit both parks n same visit!

  • So so helpful!!! Thank you!!!!

  • Thank you. Have enjoyed and appreciate all of your coverage of the opening. Can you do early entry on check in day of a one-night stay at one of the Universal hotels?

  • Is the ride on each direction of the HE the same or different? If assuming different, which one is better?

  • Any info on actually taking a person in a wheelchair to EFG? I rode it this morning for the first time and meant to ask while I was there…. I was too excited and forgot lol. I know that people in wheelchairs can transfer and ride but I wanted to know about the queue. I’m bringing my elderly mother in 2 weeks and will be pushing her in a manual wheelchair. Just wanted to know if it is the regular line or n

  • In reading all this I still do not know whether it is worth trying to go the week of September 15, 2014. Will the rush have died down by then? I do not want to stand in lines for 5 hours. We have been there before but the new Harry Potter stuff has my 15 year old excited and I would like to make her happy.

  • Thanks for your helpful comments. Went on Gringotts this morning having waited 2 hours to do this. This would have been quicker but the ride broke down a few
    times. We got early entry into park at about 0645 (on site hotel guest) The queue time when we left ride at 0850 wad 4 hours!