Update Regarding Early Park Admission Strategies at Universal’s Islands of Adventure


For some strange reason, I enjoy getting up early to go to theme parks. I understand many other people do also. The idea of being at a park when the gates open or being ready for “rope drop” as they say appeals to me. The appeal involves fewer people inside the park, of course. Yet, the “game” of seeing how much you can do with short waits calls to my nature. Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando offers some interesting variables during its opening procedure. During the last month or so, I have “rope-dropped” this park several times. This article will remind the reader of standard expectations here and update some small changes.

Personally, I desired to know if the adjusted daytime hours during Halloween Horror Nights season with Universal Studios Florida starting earlier would influence the number of people using early park admission at Islands of Adventure. In fact, there appeared to be no impact. Islands of Adventure still draws a large rope drop crowd due to the popularity of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World Velocicoaster.

I did confirm a few things “rope-dropping” Islands of Adventure during September and October. First, if you desire to ride Hagrid attraction, you need to arrive very early. The CityWalk area will usually open to guests about an hour before early park admission. Resort guests and those using the walkway to enter via the valet parking entrance have a noticeable advantage over people parking in CityWalk garage. The queue to wait for the Hagrid attraction will grow very quickly during early park admission. You want to be in the first 300 people to enter the park to avoid a potentially very long wait even during early park admission.

Second, early park admission at Islands of Adventure still involves some luck. The Hagrid attraction still faces reliability issues in the morning. If lucky, it opens as soon as you enter for early park admission. If not, you may be stuck in a very long queue going nowhere. Since Hagrid attraction does not always open on time, you can easily feel frustration getting up early for no real advantage. This happens more than you would expect.

Third, based on my unscientific counting, 98% of people entering Islands of Adventure for early park admission head to Hogsmeade area with almost all of them getting in queue for Hagrid attraction. Even though the wait times posted will be inflated, this queue will be long. If you turn left in the Lost Continent area heading to Velocicoaster, you will find the shortest waits of the day here. Now, Velocicoaster often opens a few minutes later than early park admission time but nothing like disaster potential at Hagrid coaster. Three times recently, I went straight to Velocicoaster. All three times, I rode the attraction at least twice with little to no wait.

Queue for Hagrid attraction on October 4th at 8:16am with 8am early park admission
Queue for Hagrid attraction on October 4th at 8:16am with 8am early park admission
Queue for Hagrid attraction on October 4th at 8:16am with 8am early park admission

On one morning in September, I rode Velocicoaster three times in a row. In fact, I did not even have to get off the attraction. Three morning rides in the back row on that coaster will wake you up. I strongly recommend not doing that after going for an early morning breakfast dining review at a table service location either. I learned that day that I am old. Well, at least I’m too old to eat a full breakfast then ride Velocicoaster three times in a row. For the record, on that morning I could have ridden again a fourth time with no wait. I wisely selected not to do so.

Though, I would not anticipate things being that slow for your visit. You can expect waits to be much shorter at Velocicoaster than Hagrid coaster. Whereas Hagrid coaster could use up all of your early park admission time, Velocicoaster will not. If desiring to be ready for official park opening “rope-drop” at Marvel Super Hero Island, a ride or two at Velocicoaster gives you adequate time to prepare for that. Also, assuming no delays to mechanical issues or weather, Hagrid coaster still shows lowest wait times of day around noon if you decide to pass on it during early park admission.

Islands of Adventure
Photo courtesy of Kimmie Caputzal

Fourth, if you lack early park admission, do not enter Hogsmeade during morning hours. The waits will be long, and the area will be crowded. Try waiting until at least 11:30am before entering this area.

Islands of Adventure April 2022- 50 minutes before early park admission

Early park admission to Island of Adventure brings great power. Yes, this great power demands great responsibility in terms of planning. Without a plan, you could be wasting lots of valuable theme park time. Good luck with your early morning theme park adventures.

Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.