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Harry Potter Orlando

(24 Posts)
reluctantbrit Wed 30-Jan-19 12:42:51

DD, 11, is Potter-mad and her biggest wish is to go to the parks in Orlando. For DH and me, it sounds like the holiday from hell so we are trying to find a solution.

How easy is it to just get tickets for 1-2 days for the HP bit (are there one or two parks?)? We currently think about a week either Caribbean and then flying to Orlando and from there back home. Alternatively New York, then Boston, then Florida incl. the park but really just some days.

Time wise we think of Easter holiday.

I just fear we would pay a fortune which would mean 2-3 years low key holiday and won't enjoy it enough.

OP’s posts: |
Grumpyoldblonde Wed 30-Jan-19 12:53:47

HP is just a small part of Universal which is split over 2 parks but as someone who loathes theme parks I will say I loved universal, there is so much to see and do, HP is fantastic but so is the whole thing with it’s shows, parades, shops etc. We went several times and I’d go again and again.

I don’t know about tickets, we bought ours in advance from American Attractions combined with Disney tickets, some kind of deal is always on.
It’s very organised at Universal, City Walk is quite exciting, the restaurants are better than Disney, it’s just great. I think it’s been added to since I went 3 years ago and there’ll be even more to see. I don’t do rollercoasters and loved it.

NewtScamandersNiffler Wed 30-Jan-19 18:49:59

2 days is fine for the Universal bits and concentrate on wizarding world, though parts of Orlando can be lovely. What’s your idea of a good holiday? I wouldn’t want Disney myself and was surprised how much I liked the Universal hotels. As an escape from reality.

If you’re okay to drive then a week could be fun and do all sorts of things. Up to Winter Park for American craftsman and Tiffany art or antique shopping in Mount Dora. Space exploration at Kennedy space center or swim with manatees at Crystal River. Try and buy 1 tank trips which give you ideas of days out not at the parks.

NewtScamandersNiffler Wed 30-Jan-19 19:39:54

Reasonably clear I’m a Potter geek?

HP is in both Universal parks and linked by the Hogwarts Express which means you need tickets for both parks. You’ll want to do both as you visit both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. The detail is incredible - if your daughter looks smart she’ll be complimented by the talking mirror in Madam Malkin’s, she can watch the mice skipping in the Magical Menagerie and feel the bird flutter in the vanishing cabinet in Borgin and Burke’s.

The food was fine in Leaky Cauldron. Yes, there are probably better restaurants in City Walk and you can watch Americans trying a ploughman’s or Scotch eggs for the first time in the Three Broomsticks.

One new ride is coming in HP for this summer. Possibly riding Hagrid’s motorbike and you might want to wait for that?

iforgotwhatiwasgoingtosay Thu 31-Jan-19 15:39:55

My boyfriend admitted he was worried he wouldn't like Orlando at all when I dragged him there last summer, we are returning again next summer, even if you were to do a few days in Orlando and then have some time in the Florida Keys or onto Miami? Lots to see up and down Florida. If you stay in some of the universal hotels you get free fastpasses to skip the queues to the attractions meaning you wouldn't have to wait in queues for rides (for both the day of check in and check out). But seriously, you will love it, i've never heard anyone come back from Orlando and say they didn't enjoy themselves..

cloudtree Thu 31-Jan-19 15:46:25

An adult two park explorer ticket is £259. you will all pay adult prices. That's without express passes.

cloudtree Thu 31-Jan-19 15:48:22

Thats for one day. At 2019 rates. For a low season day.

Express passes can double that cost.

The way to do universal is to buy a longer period ticket (a 7 or 14 day ticket is often best) and then to stay at one of the hotels which allows early access and gives you free express passes. Loews Royal Pacific is the cheapest out of those hotels.

Trampire Thu 31-Jan-19 15:50:38

My ds is HP mad. I like it too. Dh and dd not so keen.

We all ADORED HP at Universal. Dd got picked out at Olivanders wand shop by the Actor playing Olivander and had all kind of tricks played on her. the rides were incredible. Really inventive and immersive.

We only went for one day, but it was enough just to do HP properly.

Def get tickets for the 2 parks though as the Hogwarts Express is a must!

Quartz2208 Thu 31-Jan-19 15:50:55

First off Easter is the second busiest and most expensive time of year to go (second to Christmas) so I am not sure how tied you are to that time

a 2 day 2 park ticket is fine - the American site will easily sell them (1 to 4 day ticket deals are v common for US tourists)

The Harry Potter bit is amazing in the two parks - it really makes you feel as if you are part of the world. The merchandise is not cheap though

And properly look at Orlando - it is so much more than just the parks

mrsed1987 Thu 31-Jan-19 15:52:44

Universal is amazing..i wasnt interested in going at all but my husband dragged me and ive got to say id go back again and again

cloudtree Thu 31-Jan-19 15:53:13

I would go at october half term if you can. Much better time to go. even then be prepared for mammoth queues (even with express passes) for the gringotts ride.

We go every other year so have lots of experience in getting the best out of it.

chemenger Fri 01-Feb-19 02:11:35

We somewhat reluctantly went to Universal at New Year and all of us loved it, despite it being absolutely not our usual type of holiday. We stayed in the Aventura which was fine, but if we went back it would be to a hotel with free express passes as a PP said. I would definitely recommend staying in a Universal hotel.

I would also recommend the Kennedy Space Center, loads to see there for a day trip.

KickAssAngel Fri 01-Feb-19 02:42:13

We did one day at Universal, had tickets for both parks and spent about 14 hours there. You do need both parks to see all the HP stuff and there's no way around that. We were exhausted the next day. We went in the summer and it was ludicrously hot - over 40 C. Even though the lines are in shade, with fans blowing, it is still very hot.

Spring will be cooler, but is also hurricane/tornado season. So check when Easter is (this year or next) and when spring storms typically start. You can't guarantee anything, of course, but if you've pre-booked tickets for a certain day and the park closes, you could miss out.

I think it's possible to book cheaper tickets for the parks from the UK - so I've read here, anyway. I live in the US so couldn't access those deals and they are v v expensive. Having said that, we were entertained for 14 hours, and I usually hate theme parks and get sick on most rides, so they are well done.

Quartz2208 Fri 01-Feb-19 07:45:21

The UK get 14 day ticket deals which are very good value if you are going multiple times - but if you only want 1 to 2 day tickets the US sites probably are cheaper.

reluctantbrit Fri 01-Feb-19 08:42:55

Thanks for all tips. We can’t do Summer as I am not able to stand the heat. We do not know if October will stay with 2 weeks half term and I am concerned about hurricane season.

Thanks for Easter, I didn’t know there are also Spring storm. Hm.

We currently thought one week Cuba and one week Orlando with 2-3 days in the park in April. We have been to the Caribbean inApril before and liked it. The only other alternative would be just doing Orlando in May half term. Not too keen as it would mean a lot of money just for one area but if we do it we want a decent trip not being surprised by bad weather.

It would be earliest 2020. I have a milestone birthday in 2022 and wanted to go long haul for that so we need time to save again.

OP’s posts: |
PizzaPlanet Mon 11-Feb-19 18:19:32

how about flying to Orlando, a few days at Universal for your daughter (you could work in some chilling out and/or shopping time alongside the theme park time), then how about a Caribbean or Bahamas cruise? Carnival are a giod mid range cruise line who sail from Port Canaveral. Probably cheaper than flying to the Caribbean separately. Alternatively drive to a beach resort on Florida such as Miami or the Keys. If you are on a budget at Universal, defygo for one of their cheaper hotels such as Cabana Bay or Sapphire Falls, they’re really very nice.

oneteen Mon 18-Feb-19 00:18:12

We are just back from Florida (DD's school had an early Feb HT). We flew out on a Friday - spent Saturday in Universal and then went down to Miami for a 5 night Carribean Cruise (very chilled), drove back to Orlando on the day we disembarked and managed to get back into Universal by 2.30pm and also the following day until 2pm (the day we flew back). Its Mardi Gras season at Universal in Feb so the atmosphere was lovely. We brought the annual passes (which have plus 6 months - to 18 months in total) for £305 pp and allowed us early entry into the parks at 9am, free parking and also 10% of everything inc food. Going in Feb was great temperature was around 80 most days with a breeze - the cruise was a little turbulent at times on the outbound journey to the Bahamas but we found the combination of parks and cruise worked well - although like pp stated probably better to cruise from Port Canaveral rather than spend time driving down to Miami. We had bargain flights at just under £550 for both of us with BA.

belleandsnowwhite Mon 18-Feb-19 13:44:28

We are doing universal studios for HP(Which is amazing, any HP fan will love it) and then a Carribean cruise. There is plenty to do in Florida other than theme parks.

MrsPatmore Mon 18-Feb-19 13:56:33

We did an open jaw flight into Miami, 3 nights there then a few nights beach holiday near Anna Maria Island then Disney/Universal for a week or so flying out of Orlando. It's very easy to drive around and you get to see a lot of Florida that way. Beautiful beaches, amazing food and we actually really liked the Universal and Disney bits too (but planned the park visits). Went in October which was perfect weather - 80 degrees during the day, low humidity and no US school holidays.

GreenTulips Mon 18-Feb-19 14:01:12

I’m also not a ride fan, however Florida was one of the best holidays we had and they are nothing like British theme parks.

We went in October and it was really quiet and walked into 95% of the rides as no queues.

Would defiantly go again

carrie74 Mon 18-Feb-19 17:02:36

(Ex-Floridian here) We visit Florida almost every Easter holidays. Yes it's a busy time to go - that's because the weather is at its best - dry season but warm. To spend minimum amount of time in Orlando/Universal, you're best off booking one of the Universal hotels that grants fast passes for 1 or 2 nights, you will then get fast passes for the 2/3 days you're there. I'd suggest doing Orlando at the start of your holiday - you'll be waking up early with the jet lag, so getting up for rope drop at 7 or whatever isn't hard. Grab breakfast at Starbucks or Cinnabon on your way in and head straight to HP to get on the most popular rides without Fast passes (last time we did it that was Gringotts).

Personally, 2 days is enough at Universal for me, I'm not the kind of person that has to do every last thing, and I'm not that bothered about missing the odd thing, but only you will know what kind of traveller you are.

Regarding doing a multi-centre trip, do remember that Key West is only 90 miles across the sea to Cuba - Florida has some of the best beaches in the world. If you'd be doing Cuba for culture, fine, but if as a beach resort, I'd stay in Florida and look at Miami, or Naples/ Marco Island, or the Gulf Coast. Driving is easy, and there's much more to Florida than the theme parks (although they are also quite awesome). I'm counting down the days to our next trip (not doing Orlando at all), and can just about taste the stone crab already, yum!

queribus Mon 18-Feb-19 18:35:03

If your budget can stretch, stay at one of the more expensive universal hotels (hard rock, portofino...). You get express passes for your stay including check in and check out days, plus early entry to the Harry Potter bit. Definitely worth it as you can do at least one of the big two rides before the queues build up. Although I think you can now use xpress Pass at least at hogwarts.
And as great as universal is there is so much more to florida

reluctantbrit Tue 19-Feb-19 15:06:10


we have narowed it down to May half term, Easter is just too expensive.

We plan the Portofino.

But all depends now on a bonus payment from my employer....

OP’s posts: |
oneteen Tue 19-Feb-19 17:29:51

@reluctantbrit - I would seriously consider the annual passes because they cost about £50 more (£305 for the preferred passes) and you would not have to stay in one of the Universal Hotels (unless you want too)...You would also get a discount on the Universal Hotels (15% plus), 10% of most things in the parks (which saved us 50 dollars plus) and I think in May HT you would have early entry into the park at 9am. It was a no brainer for us...we just stayed on International Drive and used Uber for the transfers. I know my daughter will almost certainly go back to Florida in the next 18mths maybe next February because it suited us.

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