Posts Tagged ‘Early Entry’

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 28, 2016: Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Update

by on January 28, 2016

Early park admission universal Orland

Indulge your sweet tooth in this Best Week Ever update of Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando (photos/video by Seth Kubersky)


I hope you set your alarm clocks this morning, because this Best Week Ever is up and at ’em before daybreak to enjoy one of my favorite theme park perks. Early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is usually restricted to Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests, but throughout January annual passholders were allowed to join to early morning crowds on weekdays. At the same time, Universal has made some tweaks to the way this popular option operates, so this past week I awoke ahead of the sun to bring you the Universal Orlando Early Park Admission update.

First, the big news about Universal Orlando Early Park Admission is that it is currently offered at Universal Studios Florida only. For most of 2015, Early Park Admission was offered only at Islands of Adventure during off-peak times, and at both parks during peak holiday periods. Early in 2016, Universal returned off-peak Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida only. While communications from Universal have been inconsistent about the future EPA calendar, we currently expect Early Park Admission to remain at Universal Studios Florida only until the Easter/Spring Break peak season.

Here are some other Universal Orlando Early Park Admission updates:

  • When Universal Studios Florida opens for Early Park Admission, only Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the attractions inside Diagon Alley (including Escape from Gringotts) are regularly open. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Transformers may also open early if the crowds warrant, but they were not operating early during my recent visit.
  • When Islands of Adventure opens for Early Park Admission, the Hogwarts Express usually begins operating 30 minutes before Universal Studios Florida officially opens. However, when Universal Studios Florida open early, the first Hogwarts Express train depart only a few minutes before IOA’s opening hour.


Got all that? Great! Now, let’s take a morning stroll around the parks.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 24, 2015: Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay

by on December 24, 2015

Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation

Take a vicarious Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay with Best Week Ever (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

After my recent visit to New York City, I didn’t want my holiday vacation to end…and here at Best Week Ever, it doesn’t have to! Thanks to an amazing annual passholder discount, I was able to enjoy a single night Universal Orlando Star Wars staycation at Cabana Bay Beach Resort and celebrate the opening of The Force Awakens in CityWalk IMAX style. Don’t be jealous, because I’m bringing you all with me in today’s photo-filled recap.


I checked into Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort on Thursday, December 17, amid the festive retro decorations in the value-priced hotel’s Mad Men-esque lobby.

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Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Now at Islands of Adventure Only

by on January 23, 2015

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission IOA

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission policies have changed once again. (photo by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome back to the never-ending saga of Universal Orlando Early Park Admission procedures. As of January 20, 2015, Universal has yet again adjusted the popular perk offered to their on-site hotel guests. Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which allows eligible guests into the resort’s most popular area one hour before the general public, is now restricted to only Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.

A quick recap: IOA offered early entry hours from the time the first Harry Potter land opened in 2010 until last year. Once Diagon Alley opened last summer, both parks opened for early park admission until the summer season ended, at which point only Universal Studios Florida was opened. This made sense, as most guests are primarily interested in the new Diagon Alley, and early park admission was the best time by far to experience Escape from Gringotts without a lengthy wait.

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Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Changes Starting September 2 [UPDATED 8/30/14]

by on August 30, 2014

Early Park Admission Sign

Big changes are coming in September to Universal Orlando’s Early Park Admission perk (Photo by Seth Kubersky)

As the summer season comes to a close, we’ve gotten word of some upcoming changes to Universal Orlando Early Park Admission policies that are scheduled to go into effect early next month.

While no details have been officially announced, we’ve confirmed this information with guest service leads at both parks, and we believe the following modifications will be made to Universal Orlando’s early park admission perk (otherwise known as “early entry” or “early admission”) offered to guests at the resort’s four on-site hotels.

We will be on hand to report on the new procedures, and we will update the information on our Early Park Admission page as policy changes develop.

[Note: Universal Orlando has recently confirmed an update to the off-season early entry, see below for bolded changes]

Early Park Admission General Information

Universal Orlando offers admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas at Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade) and/or Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley) one hour before regular park opening. This perk is given for free to all guests staying at a Universal Resort Hotel. Guests with certain types of “vacation packages” (most commonly sold by Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations and involving both accommodations at a Universal partner hotel and theme park admission) are also allowed in early.

The turnstiles to the park(s) participating in early entry should open approximately 90 minutes before the official opening time. Both hotel and day guests will be admitted to the park, and each eligible guest will need to show his or her own room key to pass beyond the park’s entry plaza during the early admission hour. Guests not eligible for early admission will be held in an alternative area to await the official opening time.

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New Universal Orlando Wizarding World Two-Park Touring Plans

by on July 23, 2014

Gringotts Queue

Learn everything you’ve always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about visiting both Gringotts and Hogwarts with our new Wizarding World two-park touring plans! (photos by Seth Kubersky)

A few days ago, we published our newly updated Universal Studios Florida touring plans, which provide step-by-step instructions for tackling Diagon Alley and the crowds at the Gringotts bank ride with maximum efficiency. Those guides are now available as premium touring plans that can be copied and edited in Lines, with versions for Early Entry guests and for those staying off-site.

Today, we’re following up with the first installment of our most frequently requested touring plan: one-day/two-park plans covering both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These new plans cover both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. They feature all Harry Potter attractions (including rides on the Hogwarts Express in both directions) in a single day, and assume you have a Park-To-Park (Universal lingo for “parkhopper”) ticket.

[Note: If you caught the early edition of this post, you may notice that the touring plans have changed slightly. Using the latest data crunched overnight, we’ve tweaked the morning attraction order to squeeze in one extra attraction! Similar upgrades have already been made to the premium one day USF/Diagon Alley plans we’ve previously published. You’re welcome!]

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PotterWatch: Zonko’s Closed, London Waterfront Walls, & Hogwarts Express Details on Friday

by on March 13, 2014

Zonko's Closed and more Wizarding World news in this week's PotterWatch (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Zonko’s Closed and more Wizarding World news in this week’s PotterWatch (photos by Seth Kubersky)

In this week’s edition of PotterWatch, we head into the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando‘s Islands of Adventure on the day before Zonko’s closed, then check out the new construction walls along the London Waterfront in Universal Studios Florida. Finally, we’ll tell you when you can hear fresh details about the Hogwarts Express, and share new information on early entry for Universal Orlando resort hotel guests.

Zonko’s Closed

For the first time, a significant component of Hogsmeade Village has disappeared. Zonko’s Joke Shop, one of the original shops at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, permanently closed its doors this week. It will reopen in the coming months as an extension of the adjoining Honeydukes candy shop, which is usually overcrowded.


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Ultimate Halloween Horror Nights 23 Touring Plan

by on October 15, 2013

We’re heading into the home stretch of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 23, and if you plan on facing the undead hordes you’ll need a good plan now more than ever. Luckily for you, we’ve been on the ground every weekend of the event so far, and have recorded over 300 pieces of wait-time data for the haunted houses.

Here’s the final result: field-tested touring plans, designed to help you tackle all eight mazes in a single evening without the use of extra-cost express passes — provided you pick the right night to attend (Wednesday or Thursday are best, Saturdays are worst, and Sunday can be surprisingly busy), arrive early, and stay late.

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Disneyland Resort Half-Marathon Weekend Traffic Alert

by on August 30, 2013

Image copyright Disney

If you are into the wonderful world of collecting runDisney medals, you undoubtedly already know that this weekend is not only Labor Day, but also the sold-out Half-Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort. But even if the only Disney running you do is to Peter Pan at rope drop, you should be aware of the athletic activities in case you were planning on an early morning visit to the Anaheim parks in the next few days.

Race-related activities kicks off this morning with the Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo, which continues until 5pm Saturday at the Disneyland Hotel. On Saturday (8/31) the 5k Family Fun Run and 10k race start at 5:15am and 6:15am, respectively, with Kids Races held in Downtown Disney at 10am. Finally, the Pasta in the Park party takes over a corner of Disneyland at 6pm (separate ticket required, sold-out).

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New “Mysteries of Magic” Experience Available to Disneyland Hotel Guests

by on May 26, 2013

Photo courtesy Orange County Register

The “early entry” hours offered to select ticket-holders and resort hotel guests at Disneyland are a wonderful way to experience the magic of the Happiest Place on Earth with minimal wait times. But what if you've been on every Fantasyland and Tomorrorland ride a million times, and are looking for a new way to spend the early A.M. inside Disneyland Park?

The brand-new “Mysteries of Magic” experience is now being offered during Tuesday and Thursday “Extra Magic Hours” exclusively to registered guests of the three Disneyland Resort on-site hotels. Participating guests will get to participate in a private workshop inside the Main Street Magic Shop, where they will “be amazed, mystified, and intrigued” as they are introduced to the world of performing prestidigitation.

Participants (who must be 5 years old or older) in the hour-long program will recieve personal instruction on performing several magic tricks, training materials, and a 10% discount on any items purchased from the Magic Shop during the session. The experience costs $10 per person (plus valid park admission) and space is limited. This may be a temporary or seasonal event, but no closing date is announced. See the concierge or front desk at your hotel for more information or to sign up.

This program is so new that we have not had a chance to try it yet. If you've experienced the new “Mysteries of Magic” event, please leave your impressions in the comments below.


5 Ways to Start Your Day in Disney California Adventure

by on March 18, 2013

All photos by Seth Kubersky

Recently, I wrote about five of my favorite ways to begin my day at Disneyland Park. Until this past summer, Disneyland’s original park was most visitors’ first destination, with its little brother Disney California Adventure an afterthought on many itineraries.

Now, how the tables have turned: since last June’s grand re-opening of DCA, headlined by Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket, the former also-ran is often drawing as many (or even more) “first click” entries as its older sibling. That means more and more visitors are starting their Disney day on Buena Vista Street instead of Main Street, U.S.A.

As a result, we advise you arrive at DCA’s front gate at least 45 minutes before the official opening time; guests are typically allowed into the entry plaza at least 30 minutes early, and Disneyland’s current ID-checking procedures can make for slow lines at the turnstiles. Most importantly, don’t visit DCA on an Extra Magic Hour morning (currently Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) unless you are staying in a Disney resort hotel and can take advantage of the early entry.

Once you are inside the park and awaiting rope drop, what to do? Here are my top five tips for making mornings at DCA more memorable:

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