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 or its new Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Doing so gives you special early entry privileges to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, plus–if at the Royal Pacific–“front of the line” privileges for the rest of Universal Orlando.
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 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. Rooms at Cabana Bay are much less expensive
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 has given remarkable free “early access” and “front of the line” privileges to guests staying in one of the three Universal deluxe hotels— the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Guests at Cabana Bay get free “early access” but don’t get front of the line passes.
This set of privileges, the Universal Express Program for Universal resort guests, allows Universal deluxe 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. (Again–only at the Universal deluxe hotels–not at Cabana Bay.)
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 rides.
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 or Escape from Gringotts, 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 or Cabana Bay
Note: All three Universal resort deluxe 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. Cabana Bay is in between a Disney value and moderate, and its four-person rooms are particularly sound.
LINKS FOR 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