Where to Stay During Your Visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: WHERE TO STAY FOR HARRY POTTER
Those simply aiming for a morning at Harry Potter could maintain their Walt Disney World lodging plans…
However, families either
- wishing 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. Doing so gives you special early entry privleges to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, plus “front of the line” privileges for the rest of Universal Orlando.
They should do so even if—to preserve their Magical Express airport transport, Extra Magic Hours access, etc—this means being double booked one night, at both a Disney and a Universal resort.
MORE DETAILS ON WHERE TO STAY FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
(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. Click here for the Summary of Instructions for visiting Harry Potter.)
Adding another hotel night–and double booking at that!–is expensive. One night at the Royal Pacific will cost you, including tax, $250 to more than $375, depending on the price season (which are similar to Walt Disney World’s price seasons) and any discounts you can find.
However, doing so grants you unique “early access” privileges to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, letting you in to the park as much as an hour before everyone else. This can save you hours of waiting.
Universal no longer has a free option like Disney’s “fastpass” program.
Instead it has two “front of the line” programs—one, recommended here, available only to Universal Resort hotel guests (they get it for free), and another, not so good for Harry Potter, available for purchase by the general public.
By the way, “front of the line” simply means access to a shorter waiting line than those without such passes can access—you’ll still be behind anyone who has similar passes and got to the line before you did!
Universal has given remarkable free”early access” and “front of the line” privileges to guests staying in one of the three Universal hotels— the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
This set of privileges, the Universal Express Program for Universal resort guests, allows Universal hotel guests to move to the front of almost every ride’s waiting line as many times as they wish, beginning as soon as the parks open.
However, you can use this privilege neither to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, nor to go to the front of the line of its signature ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
For these, you use your privilege of “early entry” instead–you will be able to enter the park up to an hour before non-hotel guests can.
These privileges work from the day of check in to the day of check out—so for a one night reservation, they work for two days. You can check in as early as 7a, and receive then the key cards that allow you to skip to the head of your line. (Your room, of course, won’t be ready then…but your privileges will be!)
Participating in Universal’s other front of the line program, which means not reserving a Universal resort room for a night, but rather buying one or two days of Universal Express Plus passes, is not nearly as good a plan. These passes can be cheaper–they cost $25-55 per day per person, depending on the season. But since you can’t use them to enter the Wizarding World, or on Forbidden Journey, there is much less value to them.
All in, the best way to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, if you can at all afford it, is to book a night at the Royal Pacific.
Note: All three Universal resort hotels are terrific, comparable to Walt Disney World deluxes. The Royal Pacific is both the most kid-pleasing, and the least expensive of the three, which is why it is featured here.
LINKS FOR THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
- Review: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- When to Go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- How Long to Stay at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- How Old/Tall Your Kids Should be for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Where to Stay During Your Visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- How Much to Budget for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- When Your Plans for Visiting the Wizarding World Should Be Firm
- How to Spend Your Time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- What to Do When to Get Ready for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter