Update on New Early Park Admission Strategies at Islands of Adventure

(Photo Credit: Universal)

Universal Orlando made an unexpected change to the early park admission procedure, which started January 3rd 2022. The basics of this can be found at this link from Univerasal Orlando. We also covered it HERE. The major change involved the removal of Hagrid Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure from attractions available during early park admission.

Since this change, the queue and area around Hagrid attraction resembles chaos. In fairness, this week at Universal Orlando was predicted to be busy but not holiday week busy. That prediction presented itself as true. The attraction posted wait times, that rivaled some busier weeks of the year. These waits rated dramatically higher for Hagrid’s and the attractions still open for early park admission.

So, what have we learned so far in trying to efficiently tour during early park admission?

  1. With one exception, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opened at about 8:45am each day. This matches time guests without early park admission were allowed in the park this week.
  2. After first 15 minutes of early park admission, Velocicoaster and Forbidden Journey developed longer than normal posted wait times for early park admission. Seeing posted waits of 45 minutes or more by 8:15am for those attractions this week remained commonplace. In fairness, posted waits exceeded actual waits. Still, these attractions failed to be easy walk-ons like sometimes seen during early park admission time.
  3. When Hagrid’s attraction opened, the posted wait escalated to close to 2 hour posted wait. For example, the posted wait on January 4th and January 7th remained over 1.5 hour wait all day. Hagrid coaster reached 3 hours posted wait several times this week in the afternoon.
  4. This week, many guests used their early park admission time to enter the queue for Hagrid’s magical Creature Motorbike Adventure early. They did this as soon as they entered the Hogsmeade area. This plan involves some risk but if attraction opens on time, you avoid extensive waits later.
  5. Lining up in Hagrid’s attraction queue during early park admission is a feast or famine move. For example, Saturday January 8th, Hagrid’s opened unannounced soon after early park admission started. The posted wait shown equaled 40 minutes. However, actual wait equaled about 15 minutes for the lucky ones risking the queue.

In contrast on Friday January 7th, Hagrid’s did not open until after regular park opening. To add to the problem, the attraction experienced several delays that day. A guest with early park admission could have entered Hagrid’s queue at 8:30 after experiencing another attraction to wait with delays for 3 hours to ride Hagrid coaster.

So, based on data of first six days with this new early park admission procedure, what should a guest with early park admission do? Your choice depends on goals. If you MUST ride Hagrid coaster, then enter that queue, and hope for a good day. Do bear in mind that any weather issues will cause that attraction to have a delay.

If not willing to risk a long wait, go to Velocicoaster first. If The Flight of the Hippogriff serves as a priority with your group, use early park admission time to ride it several times. This kiddie style coaster showed posted waits of 60 minutes often after early park admission this past week.

I would not suggest going to Forbidden Journey first. The posted wait time for this attraction extended longer than I prefer in morning after early park admission time. Still, later in day, the wait times dropped to about 20-30 minutes on average.

Also, as you might imagine, guests without early park admission should think carefully before entering Hogsmeade area. You will be well behind the early park admission crowd. Wait times besides Velocicoaster and Hogsmeade attractions developed reasonable queue all day.

Just some suggestions to consider.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

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