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Early Admission to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, & The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Getting early access to the adventure
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is by far the most exciting thing to happen to Orlando’s theme parks over the last decade. Its tremendous attention to detail, and the one-of-a-kind experiences it offers Central Florida visitors, has made Universal Orlando Resort more popular than ever.

 

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

 

If you’re planning a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade during a time when there are moderate to busy crowds (see our FREE 12-month Universal Orlando crowd calendar) – and the Wizarding World is one of your top priorities at Universal – then we strongly recommend that you get Early Park Admission.

 

This page offers a complete guide to Universal’s Early Park Admission, from an explanation of the basics to every detail you need to know to maximize its effectiveness. Let’s begin, well, at the beginning…

 

Currently, Early Park Admission is at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

 

Below is the tentative EPA schedule, completely subject to change at any time. Contact Universal to confirm.

 

Now - August 2: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios
August 3 - late December (tentatively): Islands of Adventure (Hogwarts Express boarding 30 minutes prior to park opening.)

 

Why do I need Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World?
We can quickly answer this question with the following video:

 

While the video above may present a stronger contrast than you will likely see on an “average” day, the crowds you saw at the end of that video do occur quite often. The truth is, the Wizarding World is the most electrifying thing to happen in Orlando in years, and its popularity only seems to grow – especially with the opening of Diagon Alley in July of 2014. When the parks are slow, the Wizarding World is usually busy. When the parks are busy, the Wizarding World is crushed.

 

VERY IMPORTANT – Speaking of Diagon Alley, we don’t have a video highlighting its Early Park Admission, but I can tell you the daytime wait for Escape from Gringotts during busier periods has routinely been more than two hours and sometimes over three hours.

 

How does Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World work?
Guests with Early Park Admission have the benefit of entering Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure (selected by Universal) an hour before the park opens to the general public. For most of the year, this means 8:00am, and the park opens to everyone else at 9:00am. During busier seasons, it shifts up an hour, and guests with EPA get in at 7:00am while everyone else gets in at 8:00am. It's also possible for both parks to be open for early admission during busier seasons.

 

For the days when Early Park Admission is at Islands of Adventure, it’s satisfactory to arrive 30 minutes before Early Park Admission begins. If the Early Admission is at Universal Studios and you're interested in being one of the first in line for Gringotts, you'll want to arrive an hour prior to Early Park Admission.

 

How do I get Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World?
There are two methods for getting Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World. Since there is quite a bit of confusion about this, I’ll explain all of the details. The first method is to stay on-site at one of Universal’s four on-site hotels: Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, or Cabana Bay Beach Resort. All guests staying on-site, regardless of how they booked their rooms or which hotel they choose, get Early Park Admission as a on-site benefit (among other benefits).

 

The second method to secure Early Park Admission is to book a Universal Orlando vacation package. A vacation package must include at least accommodations and theme park admission tickets. As far as accommodations go, you can choose from over 40 Universal Orlando Partner Hotels. These Partner Hotels range from economical (Best Western) to luxury (JW Marriot). Villas, or family-suites, are also available at some properties (Floridays). With such a broad selection, you should definitely be able to find something to match your budget and style. Visit our guide to Universal vacation packages for more information.

 

IMPORTANT – Please note that booking a Universal Orlando Partner Hotel on your own is not enough to get Early Park Admission. You have to book a Universal vacation package including accommodations at a Partner Hotel to get the Early Park Admission benefit.

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Early Park Admission to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

 

Another note: Booking a Universal Orlando vacation package does not necessarily mean that you have to book it directly through Universal Orlando. Many third-party sellers and travel agents can sell a qualifying package to you. If you’re using a third-party, just be sure you get your E-Travel Document before you travel that states your Early Park Admission benefit.

 

Final note for clarification: You can also book a Universal vacation package including accommodations at one of Universal’s on-site hotels, and if you do so you will receive Early Park Admission. However, if you are staying on-site, you are not required to book a vacation package to get the benefit. You could book your room directly through Loews, through a third-party like Hotels.com, or any other number of ways. As I mentioned above, Early Park Admission is a benefit that all on-site guests receive, regardless of how they booked their rooms.

 

During my stay, when can I use Early Park Admission?
The Early Park Admission benefit is available seven days a week. In addition, you can use it each day you are checked in to your hotel, including your check-in and check-out days. So, if you book one night at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, you actually receive two days of Early Park Admission: the morning you check in and the morning you check out. I have helped many guests book one night at a hotel – even an economy Partner Hotel – just for the two days worth of Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World.

 

How do I go about using Early Park Admission on my check-in day?
There are two somewhat different answers to this question, depending on whether you are staying on-site or off-site. First, we will address the question for guests staying at one of Universal’s on-site hotels.

 

ON-SITE AT UNIVERSAL
Guests checking into one of Universal’s on-site hotels are able to check in as early as they please. Now, it’s good to know that rooms are generally not available until after 1:00pm. However, you can check in as early as you’d like. When you do so, each member of your party will be given a room key, which serves several functions: it’s your proof for Early Park Admission, it can be used for resort-wide charging, it opens the security gate when exiting the hotel’s parking area, and of course it’s a room key.

 

Since your exact room may not be able to be assigned to you until later in the day, the Front Desk Team Member will ask for your cell phone number. Later in the day, when your room is ready, you will receive a text like the one below and your keys are automatically activated.

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Text from Portofino Bay Hotel alerting guests that their rooms are ready.

 

But what about your luggage? That’s no problem either. Each of Universal’s on-site hotels have a Luggage Service Desk, and they will gladly hold your bags in a secure area free of charge while you head out to see Harry. (Note: Cabana Bay just uses their Front Desk for this.)

 

Finally, how do you get your theme park admission tickets? If you purchased your tickets directly from Universal Orlando, they will be waiting for you at an Electronic Will Call Kiosk. There is a kiosk located near the Front Desk at each of the hotels (see the image below). There are also electronic will call kiosks located at the front of each Universal theme park.

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Electronic will call kiosk at Royal Pacific Resort.

 

Please note that, if you are staying on-site, you must check in at your hotel before you go to the parks for Early Park Admission. If you do not go to your hotel first, you will not have your room keys, and that means you will not have your proof for early entry.

 

By the way, if you have a car, you are not charged any additional amount for parking so early in the morning – just the regular nightly fee for that night.
What time should you arrive at the hotel to get to the parks for Early Park Admission? If you’re staying at a deluxe property, give yourself 45 minutes to check in and get over to the parks (note, we’re being conservative because we really don’t want you to miss any EPA time!). If you’re staying at Cabana Bay, give yourself an hour.

 

OFF-SITE AT A PARTNER HOTEL
If you have booked a Universal Orlando vacation package with accommodations at a Partner Hotel, you’ve got Early Park Admission! So how do you take advantage of it on your check-in day?

 

This is definitely a different procedure than I just described for on-site guests. If you are staying off-site, you do not need to check into your hotel room. Instead, you can proceed directly to the parks. You will pick up your tickets at the Electronic Will Call Kiosks located in front of Universal Studios Florida on your right-hand side as you approach the entrance (first photo below), or in front of Islands of Adventure to your right-hand side as you approach the the entrance (second photo below).

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Electronic Will Call Kiosks in front of Universal Studios Florida.

 

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Electronic Will Call Kiosks in front of Islands of Adventure.

 

Once you have your admission tickets, you can proceed with them to the Early Park Admission entrance. It’s also a very good idea to carry your E-Travel Document with you – that’s the document Universal or your travel agent provides to you, which lists your package benefits. If there happens to be any confusion with your tickets, your E-Travel Document will show that you have paid for the Early Park Admission benefit.

 

What if I want to check-in at my off-site hotel before going to the parks?
If you want to check in at your off-site Universal Partner Hotel before you use Early Park Admission on your check-in day, you will need to verify directly with the hotel as to what their procedures are. Depending on the hotel, they may or may not be able to stow your bags, etc.
IMPORTANT: For off-site guests, there is one critical factor you need to know about the “complimentary transportation” that may be a part of your vacation package. In almost all cases, it will not get you to Universal early enough to take advantage of Early Park Admission. Here is the language directly from UniversalOrlandoVacations.com:


SCHEDULED THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION: Provided based on regular park operating hours* (does not run continuously) to UNIVERSAL ORLANDO® theme parks, SEAWORLD ORLANDO®, WET ‘N WILD® and AQUATICA via Super Star Shuttle. Seating/standing space is limited and on a first come, first served basis. Boarding passes required from the Attraction Ticket Center located in the hotel lobby one day in advance and up to 30 minutes prior to departure. *Not valid for Special Events, Groups or Early Park Admission.

 

If you are relying on the complimentary transportation provided as a package benefit, you need to verify exactly how it works with your hotel, travel agent, or with Universal’s vacation package department. (The good news is that most Partner Hotels are very close to the parks, so a cab ride will be inexpensive.)

 

If I use Early Park Admission, do I still have to get to the park early?
Yes! I can’t stress this enough. In the case of Diagon Alley and with the intention of riding Escape from Gringotts, I recommend that you get the turnstiles one hour before Early Park Admission begins. For the days when you’re not interested in getting to the front of the line for Gringotts or Early Admission is at Islands of Adventure, it’s satisfactory to arrive 30 minutes early, but no later.These times may sound very early, but it’s what you need to do to make the most of Early Park Admission.

 

And remember, Universal generally starts to let guests in 15 to 30 minutes before the scheduled opening time. So getting to the turnstiles “an hour early” may mean that you are only waiting for 30 minutes before you get into the park. But, don’t think that means you get an hour and 30 minutes inside the Wizarding World, because they do the same thing with the general public opening time.

 

What if I am not able to arrange Early Park Admission?
I recommend that you read through our How to ensure you trip to the Wizarding World is a success! page for more advice.

 

Insider’s guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter





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647 Comments

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Terry The Tailor
Apr 15 2014 07:35 PM

The information we're all waiting for!

    • LucyK and Narcissa like this
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Dan Hatfield
Apr 15 2014 07:39 PM

The answer is, we just don't know right now.

 

Universal hasn't officially explained what it's doing with Early Park Admission once Diagon Alley opens. It seems like a good bet that Diagon Alley will certainly have it, but we don't know exactly how the timing will work, if the on-site the hotels will be split between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, if some hotels will have longer access, if off-site vacation package guests will have shorter access, etc., etc.

 

For us vacation planners, other than hearing the official grand opening date, this is the big news we're all waiting for (note terry the tailor's comment :)). So, I don't have much info now, but trust me, when we know, we'll all be talking a lot about it!

 

You can see everything we do know here: http://bit.ly/oihpexpusf

    • LilianLS, kirbyo0000, LBrookeB and 1 other like this
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Terry The Tailor
Apr 15 2014 07:55 PM

For us vacation planners, other than hearing the official grand opening date, this is the big news we're all waiting for (note terry the tailor's comment :)). So, I don't have much info now, but trust me, when we know, we'll all be talking a lot about it!

 

 

You can be sure of it! :)

    • Narcissa likes this
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Travman1974
Apr 15 2014 10:31 PM

Thanks.  We have booked for the last week of June at the Royal Pacific, we expect it to be crazy busy but hoping for an edge with early entry and the express passes.

I don't even want to think about the queues for DA at 8 o'clock in the morning!

I would suspect they will offer it, they have offered it for both the opening of Despicable Me and Transformers.How long they will keep it is the question?My guess is they are going to have to keep it long term or at least do something.Remember....Cabana Bay when its fully opened will have 1800 rooms added to the early entry perk.This plus all the current offsite partner hotels that offer it to package guests and the 3 deluxe resorts makes the perk not so much of a perk if only Hogsmeade is the only open area.They are going to need another section or area if they want to keep it a beneficial perk or eliminate it all together

The answer is, we just don't know right now.

 

Universal hasn't officially explained what it's doing with Early Park Admission once Diagon Alley opens. It seems like a good bet that Diagon Alley will certainly have it, but we don't know exactly how the timing will work, if the on-site the hotels will be split between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, if some hotels will have longer access, if off-site vacation package guests will have shorter access, etc., etc.

 

For us vacation planners, other than hearing the official grand opening date, this is the big news we're all waiting for (note terry the tailor's comment :)). So, I don't have much info now, but trust me, when we know, we'll all be talking a lot about it!

 

You can see everything we do know here: http://bit.ly/oihpexpusf

 

Is it bad that I wish that the deluxe hotels would get an extra hour of early admission to level out the possibility of larger crowds from Cabana Bay?

I would hate to be limited or split and forced to go to one area....if my plans are for the other.....

Another thing a lot of us are waiting for :D

    • LucyK and Terry The Tailor like this

After doing a lot of reading on several forums.   It does appear and I know this is not scientific but those families that stay on site generally are not ALL early risers so the fear that 1800 rooms from Cabana Bay will flood the area maybe not be entirely the case.  I know of course DA will skew that figure, and I'm just trying to hope for a break here and there.   I can see it being harder for a family with small kids to pop up and out of the rooms before 7 am on vacation.  Regardless I know the crowds will be extraordinary so I'm not fooling myself.   Just hoping EPA will be all that I hope it will be.

    • LilianLS and Kathy1 like this

After doing a lot of reading on several forums.   It does appear and I know this is not scientific but those families that stay on site generally are not ALL early risers so the fear that 1800 rooms from Cabana Bay will flood the area maybe not be entirely the case.  I know of course DA will skew that figure, and I'm just trying to hope for a break here and there.   I can see it being harder for a family with small kids to pop up and out of the rooms before 7 am on vacation.  Regardless I know the crowds will be extraordinary so I'm not fooling myself.   Just hoping EPA will be all that I hope it will be.

I agree not all people ARE early risers, but I do think adding that many rooms will impact EPA , hopefully not too much.I think the logical thing for Universal to do would be to keep EPA as a perk to onsite guests ( guests at Cabana Bay, Portofino, Royal pacific and hard rock).right now it is still offered as a package perk through partner hotels and as a perk through people that buy their tickets through dream unlimited.

    • Sybill and kirbyo0000 like this

We're at HRH Aug 25-31 so we have lots of time to visit the parks but I'm not sure I'll get my crew moving in time for a 7 am EPA. I'm really hoping regular opening will be back to 9 am so EPA is only 8 am. 8 am doable for a few mornings but 7 am seems unrealistic. Although it would get the kids back on a school morning time frame a week early, so . . . .

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Taylor Strickland
Apr 17 2014 02:37 PM

We're at HRH Aug 25-31 so we have lots of time to visit the parks but I'm not sure I'll get my crew moving in time for a 7 am EPA. I'm really hoping regular opening will be back to 9 am so EPA is only 8 am. 8 am doable for a few mornings but 7 am seems unrealistic. Although it would get the kids back on a school morning time frame a week early, so . . . .

 

For what it's worth, I think it'll be back to 9 AM general public opening by August 25. We will have to wait and see though.

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NC Potter Fan
Apr 17 2014 07:18 PM

This is our first visit staying on site. We'll be at the RPR June 18-20.

 

- How does the early entry work for actually getting into the park? If others are lining up at the main entry gate to IOA before 9 am, do we just walk past them to get in? Or is there a separate line?

 

- Anyone know how early entry worked during the WWoHP Grand Opening? Were early entry holders able to get in front of the over-night campers?

 

For what it's worth - when I made the reservations, I was told the early entry would apply to Diagon Alley if it was open. But, that doesn't appear on our email confirmations.

 

Thanks in advance for any information on your past experiences!

    • accioveronica likes this
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Taylor Strickland
Apr 18 2014 12:45 AM

This is our first visit staying on site. We'll be at the RPR June 18-20.

 

- How does the early entry work for actually getting into the park? If others are lining up at the main entry gate to IOA before 9 am, do we just walk past them to get in? Or is there a separate line?

 

- Anyone know how early entry worked during the WWoHP Grand Opening? Were early entry holders able to get in front of the over-night campers?

 

For what it's worth - when I made the reservations, I was told the early entry would apply to Diagon Alley if it was open. But, that doesn't appear on our email confirmations.

 

Thanks in advance for any information on your past experiences!

 

Hi NC Potter Fan,

Early entry was not honored for grand opening day, it's likely this is the case for Diagon Alley as well.

Please check out our Early Park Admission at the Wizarding World – complete guide and let us know if you have any more questions we can help you with.

Hope this helps.

    • accioveronica likes this

Hi NC Potter Fan,

Early entry was not honored for grand opening day, it's likely this is the case for Diagon Alley as well.

Please check out our Early Park Admission at the Wizarding World – complete guide and let us know if you have any more questions we can help you with.

Hope this helps.

 

 

But other than that it was honored? I am also wondering if there is a line for general admission for the hard core HP fans.....do we just walk past them for early admission?

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Taylor Strickland
Apr 18 2014 12:53 AM

But other than that it was honored? I am also wondering if there is a line for general admission for the hard core HP fans.....do we just walk past them for early admission?

 

I can't recall if it was honored during soft opening, but definitely was the days following the opening.

 

They should have one side blocked off for those with early entry, the ones that don't will be on the other side forming a line at the turnstiles.

    • LilianLS likes this

I can't recall if it was honored during soft opening, but definitely was the days following the opening.

 

They should have one side blocked off for those with early entry, the ones that don't will be on the other side forming a line at the turnstiles.

 

Thanks PWT I feel I am always bombarding you with questions. lol

    • Taylor Strickland likes this
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Taylor Strickland
Apr 18 2014 01:06 AM

Thanks PWT I feel I am always bombarding you with questions. lol

 

Hey as long as they're questions I can answer keep 'em coming! :P

    • LilianLS and Terry The Tailor like this
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Terry The Tailor
Apr 18 2014 02:19 AM

Is it bad that I wish that the deluxe hotels would get an extra hour of early admission to level out the possibility of larger crowds from Cabana Bay?

I would hate to be limited or split and forced to go to one area....if my plans are for the other.....

Another thing a lot of us are waiting for :D

If it is bad then I'm bad too! ;)

    • LucyK and LilianLS like this
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MattLynch91
Apr 18 2014 02:27 AM
It's a very interesting concept, whether they do or do not offer EPA for Diagon Alley.

In my opinion they will but not for the first month or two while it's still drawing in huge crowds over the summer. I reckon they will from around late August.

Although another thing that would not surprise me if they only do it for Deluxe hotel guests, thus excluding Cabana Bay.

Alternatively it won't have EPA at all haha :P
    • LilianLS likes this
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MattLynch91
Apr 18 2014 02:31 AM

This is our first visit staying on site. We'll be at the RPR June 18-20.
 
- How does the early entry work for actually getting into the park? If others are lining up at the main entry gate to IOA before 9 am, do we just walk past them to get in? Or is there a separate line?
 
- Anyone know how early entry worked during the WWoHP Grand Opening? Were early entry holders able to get in front of the over-night campers?
 
For what it's worth - when I made the reservations, I was told the early entry would apply to Diagon Alley if it was open. But, that doesn't appear on our email confirmations.
 
Thanks in advance for any information on your past experiences!


Really? If you don't mimd me asking, who told you that Diagon Alley would have early entry? Was it Universal or your travel agent? Thanks :)
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Terry The Tailor
Apr 18 2014 02:39 AM

Really? If you don't mimd me asking, who told you that Diagon Alley would have early entry? Was it Universal or your travel agent? Thanks :)

I don't think it's official yet but as it was given to on-site guests for Hogsmeade then it's highly probable that it will be offered for DA.It's also a good way for them to ease the crowds a little if a large amount of people have already done DA and left the area.

Wouldnt it be nice if the deluxe resort hotels had like a two hour early admission? I'm not trying to down play CBBR at all but it would be nice! Two extra hours to have DA to a minimum of people ....two hours to ride Escape from Gringotts......over and over and over B)

    • Sybill, Terry The Tailor, SnatcherGirl and 2 others like this

Wouldnt it be nice if the deluxe resort hotels had like a two hour early admission? I'm not trying to down play CBBR at all but it would be nice! Two extra hours to have DA to a minimum of people ....two hours to ride Escape from Gringotts......over and over and over B)


totally agree. I think its only fair that if you are paying a premium price to stay in a premium hotel that you get some premium benefits to go with it!!
    • Sybill, LilianLS, Terry The Tailor and 2 others like this
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NC Potter Fan
Apr 18 2014 05:49 AM

I called the Universal Orlando Resort people, listed on the Universal page. When the guy was reading off the list of included benefits, he said "and Diagon Alley if it's open."

    • Sybill, ReliveTheMagic, SnitchSeeker and 2 others like this
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NC Potter Fan
Apr 18 2014 05:59 AM

Thanks for all the info.

 

I still don't understand how the early entry physically works right now, though. Is there a separate line we walk up to? Do we go to the head of the line and wave our room keys?

    • PA-RN likes this