By the co-author of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook ever -- The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Summary of Instructions for Your First Family Visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

By Dave Shute

(These instructions are  for fitting a visit to Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter into a first family trip to Walt Disney World.)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter1. When to Go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

The general advice this site provides on when to go to Walt Disney World also applies to Universal Orlando.

(The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located not at Disney World. Rather it is at Universal Orlando, a completely different set of parks. Hogsmeade is in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.)

See this for more on when to go

2. How Long to Stay at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

Universal Orlando is a remarkable place, and easily repays a three or even four day visit, especially if your kids are 12 or older, and/or love thrill rides.

If you are simply trying to fit Harry Potter into a trip otherwise spent at Walt Disney World, use two mornings of your trip for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

See this for more on how long to stay at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

3. How Old/Tall Your Children Should be for Harry Potter:

Pretty much any school-age kid will find be able to find something to enjoy at Harry Potter. Younger kids, or kids without a deep engagement in the books or movies, may find it less interesting.

In Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure

At Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts is scary, and has a 42″ minimum height

See this for more on How Old/Tall Your Kids Should be for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

4. Where to Stay at Universal Orlando:

Families wishing either to guarantee access to Harry Potter’s rides without long lines, or contemplating spending more time at Universal Orlando, should consider adding a night at Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort or its Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Doing so gives you special morning entry privileges for your visit to Harry Potter on both your check-in and check-out days (and all days in between–but even with a one night stay you get two days of early entry.)

See this for more on where to stay during your visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

5. How Much to Budget for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

It is impractical to see both parts of the Wizarding World in one day. Moreover, the train ride between the parks requires a “two park” ticket. Two day, two-park tickets are (online pricing) ~$175 plus tax for adults, and about $10 less for kids.

If you can afford it, budget more for a night at the Royal Pacific or Cabana Bay (the best way to do Harry Potter)

See this for more on what to budget for Harry Potter.

6. When Your Plans for Visiting Harry Potter Need to be Firm:

If you are simply planning to visit Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter during two of the mornings of a trip otherwise spent at Walt Disney World, you don’t need to worry beyond your Disney timing requirements about when your plans need to be firm.

If you are planning to reserve a night at the Royal Pacific or Cabana Bay, you should do so as soon as your dates are firm. .

See this for more on when your plans should be firm.

7. How to Spend Your Time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

  • If checking in to the Royal Pacific, or another Universal Orlando resort, be at its front desk by 7.15a to check in and get your hotel keys, which are also your early entry passes.  Immediately proceed into the park
  • If not a hotel guest, be at the park entrance to by 60-120 minutes before opening

See this for the rest of the guidance on how to spend your time.

8. What to do When to Get Ready for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

  • Pick your dates as soon as possible
  • Set your approach—hotel or not

See this for the rest of the details of What to Do When to Get Ready for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter


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1 oticketc { 12.14.09 at 7:14 am }

Pretty useful tips. Discount tickets to universal studios orlando, disney world, seaworld and other orlando parks are also available at

2 Joan { 01.04.12 at 4:17 pm }

Dave, I booked all my restaurants in advance at WDW. We also have 2 nights at Universal, staying at Royal Pacific. Are restaurant res. also necessary there? And which ones do you recommend? We want one family dinner and one couples dinner. Thanks, Joan

3 Dave { 01.04.12 at 5:43 pm }

Hi Joan, sorry but I’m not an expert on Universal dining…

4 Eric { 02.18.12 at 7:23 pm }

Hi Dave,

Could you please comment on the walking times bw royal pacific and Harry potter vs Royal portifino to Harry potter ? We have youngish kids so fine this sort of info helpful.
Also do the early entry privleges to Harry Potter when staying at a unsiversal hotel happen every day or if not which days ?


5 Dave { 02.19.12 at 9:02 am }

Hi Eric, the walking times are about the same. In both cases boats are available, which are likely a better choice with young kids. And the early entry happens every day!

6 Christine { 03.28.12 at 11:16 pm }

This is great advice! Wish I had known before our trip… we realized once there that getting the early entry and express passes from a one night hotel stay would have definitely been worth it.

7 Dave { 03.29.12 at 7:09 am }

Thanks, Christine!

8 rick { 06.21.12 at 9:54 am }

really want to take my 11 year old to the Harry Potter experience. THAT is not going
to happen in 2o12 sadly. ANY idea how LONG this attraction will be running at WDW? Gotta find some way to get him there in 2013, just wanted to make sure it would BE THERE still !! thx

9 Dave { 06.21.12 at 1:20 pm }

Hi Rick! Harry Potter is not at Disney World–it’s at a different place entirely, Universal Orlando. It’s in the same city, but not DIsney. The good news is that it’s “permanent”–no worries abuot this year vs. next year!

10 Ana { 08.23.12 at 8:11 pm }

Hi Dave,

We have planned to go to Harry Potter world/Orlando on Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th August, next week.
From watching the news/reading the internet it looks like Tropical Storm Isaac may become a Cat 1 Hurricane on Monday and may or may not reach Florida.

If this happens, obviously Orlando is further inland, but I can imagine that storms would hit, would they likely close the park? Or close some rides etc.? Considering rescheduling if this is the case, perhaps only to Saturday and Sunday as we’ve come all the way from Australia..

If you could help that would be awesome! :)

11 Dave { 08.24.12 at 8:51 am }

Hi Ana, only a couple of days in the last 30 years has the weather been bad enough that they have closed the parks for a day or two, so the odds are strongly on your side!

12 shama { 10.11.12 at 5:50 am }

Hi me and my two-y teenage sons would like,to go wizarding world and how much is tickets for 14 year Old and 15 year Old? And for 2 adults ? Also its our first time and are the rides at wizarding world All rollercoasters and that type?have not berne able to Afford to go. :(

13 shama { 10.11.12 at 5:53 am }

How much money do you need to go there ?and souvenirs? and lastly can you stay near there where they have All day buffet.?Sorry too manu questions.

14 Dave { 10.11.12 at 11:10 am }

Shama see this for what to budget: It’s out of date but has links you can use to find the exact cost. There’s 4 rides in the Wizarding World itself–two wild coasters, one indoor ride that’s fantastic, and a kiddy ride. Your tickets also pay for you to se eall the rets of Universal’s Islands of Adventure too (which is where Harry Potter is located.)

15 Dave { 10.11.12 at 11:12 am }

Shama, I don’t track Universal closely enough to be able to comment on hotels other than Universal’s own, which are expensive, and I don’t think they have all day buffets…try whihc is really good on Universal…

16 Yvonne { 06.14.13 at 8:00 pm }

Hi Dave,
I LOVE this site! I’m planning to take my family (me, my husband, & our 2 daughters) to see the Harry Potter attraction at Universal during our WDW vacation in Nov. 2013. We are staying at Port Orleans Riverside and I wanted to know if POR has a shuttle to Universal, if not, where can we go to get a shuttle, and what time should we leave POR to make it to Universal if we want to make it there 30 min before they open? Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!

17 Dave { 06.15.13 at 8:57 am }

Hi Yvonne, and thanks!!

See this:

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18 Yvonne { 06.16.13 at 12:38 am }

Thanks Dave! One more question, how far is POR from Universal (miles)? I want to be able to decide if taking a taxi would be better than taking the Meats shuttle. Thanks again! Your website is on my favorites & I’ve already told all my friends & fam about it!

19 Dave { 06.16.13 at 8:43 am }

Thanks, Yvonne! The drive is about 13-14 miles, depending on route…

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20 Yvonne { 06.16.13 at 11:49 am }

Awesome! I can’t thank you enough! This website is such a great resource & has eliminated all of the stress of planning my trip!!

21 nathan hall { 06.16.13 at 3:47 pm }

Hi I am thinking of a first time visit to disney
where are the parades and fireworks, what park are they in
what is the best timetable for a 3 day visit

many thanks
Nathan Hall

22 Dave { 06.17.13 at 11:22 am }

Glad to help, Yvonne!!

23 Dave { 06.17.13 at 11:23 am }

Nathan, how old are your kids?

24 Tricia { 01.02.14 at 6:29 pm }

We’re interested in doing a day at Universal and were considering splitting out stay at Disney – 4 nights in one Disney resort, then going to Universal, and wrapping up a few more days at a different Disney resort, for a change of pace. Could we keep our Magical Express in that way?

25 Dave { 01.03.14 at 8:13 am }

Tricia, yes you can–you’d just “arrive” on one reservation, and “depart” on the other…

26 Kate M. { 03.15.14 at 2:45 pm }

Hi Dave,

Thanks for all of your advice so far! I am a HUGE HP fan, so we’re planning to go to Universal for two days during our August 15-24 (15th and 24th are traveling days) stay. Do you know of any really reliable crowd calendars for Universal for that time period? We’re trying to decide which two days to go. We’re staying at POR and will be basing our Disney days on Extra Magic Hours. For SURE we are going to be at Disney parks on Sunday the 17th, Monday the 18th, Wednesday the 20th, and Friday the 22nd. Our open dates, either for park hopping or Universal, are Saturday the 16th, Tuesday the 19th, Thursday the 21st, and Saturday the 23rd. I just don’t know what Universal is like during that time of year – if the weekends are out of control, I’d pick the weekdays… Any advice? Thanks SO much!!!

27 Dave { 03.16.14 at 8:07 am }

Hiya Kate! Here’s a Universal calendar: I think the key point is that with the opening of the second part of Harry Potter, it will be wildly crowded after it opens all summer long. Note that the Disney parks are usually more crowded on their EMH days…

28 Kate M. { 03.16.14 at 8:11 pm }

Dave, my question for you is: since the parks are more crowded on their EMH days, would you suggest going to a different park on those days and then going back to the EMH park at night with a Park Hopper? (For example: Magic Kingdom has EMHs on Sunday from 10 pm – 12 am… would it be better to go to Hollywood Studios during the day and then go to MK right before 10 pm?) Have you tried this out before? Thanks for your help with the Universal calendar.

29 Dave { 03.17.14 at 7:52 am }

No Kate, unless EMH is very late e.g. 1a-3a. The best way to use EMH is to go during morning EMH, stay in that park for 3-4 hours, and set your FP+ for the afternoon or evening for a second park to which you hop. See this:

30 Fredrick { 05.10.14 at 8:54 am }

I all the time emailed this web site post page to all my associates, as if like to read it then my friends will too.

31 Rachel { 07.29.14 at 7:05 pm }

Hi Dave!
Our trip is quickly approaching (11 days!!) and while I have our Disney itinerary planned I’m a little “iffy” about our Universal portion of the trip. We are staying @ Wilderness Lodge from 8/10-8/17 and then checking into Royal Pacific first thing on the 17th (we have two day park to park tickets at Universal).

Here is my question: What time should I plan to head over to Universal from Disney that Sunday am (8/17). Official park opening is 9am but with early entry we can enter @ 8am. My family wants to do all things Harry Potter so I’m thinking it’s going to have to be early…
My plan is to park the car at Royal Pacific, check in and get our room keys/tickets (I’m assuming our room will not be ready at this point) and then high tail it to Univeral.

Second question: What is the best way to get to the park from Royal Pacific?? I’ve read there is a boat, can we walk? What’s the best/quickest most efficient way.

As always, thanks for your advice. This trip has been a year in the making and I cannot believe it’s less than two weeks away! What ever am I going to do with all of my time w/o a Disney trip to plan?? ;)

32 Dave { 07.30.14 at 7:01 am }

Rachel, in the past (I have no evidence that anything is different) you could check in starting at 7a, so I would aim to be at the front desk a little before then. It’s then a bit of a hike to the park, so I’d take the boat…

And after your trip…well first come back here and tell me how it went!!

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