Universal Orlando Packs ‘Em

Seth Kubersky, co-author of Universal Orlando 2011: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure, has been keeping up-to-date on happenings at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as a contributor to the Orlando Weekly blog.

The combined Easter week and spring break crowds, he said, are setting records for attendance, contributing in general to the rebound of local tourism after the opening of WWHP last summer.

Kubersky braved the crowds last week, arriving at Islands of Adventure at the impossibly early hour of 7:15 a.m. Theme park or not, this writer  is barely conscious at that hour, but apparently not the masses who started arriving from the on-site hotel resorts as early as 7 a.m. In response, Universal officials extended park hours from the usual 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Even so, Kubersky reports that just 15 minutes after opening the wait for the Forbidden Journey ride was two hours and 1-1/2 hours for Olivander’s wand shop.

UO10 is chock full of time-saving tips and Kubersky offers a few here.

This is a great time to remind readers of the 3 most important phrases in Potterville: “no bags,” “castle only tour,” and “single riders”; repeat these to the cast members you encounter at Forbidden Journey, and you’ll be whisked through Hogwarts Castle in twenty minutes instead of two hours.) To help manage the masses, Universal has been tinkering with their system for controlling entry to the Potter area. As of this week, a standby queue (which started at 9 a.m. at 25 minutes and grew rapidly) has been run from Toon Lagoon to the Jurassic Park Discovery Center in a backstage area behind the Camp Jurassic Playground. If you don’t want to wait in that line, Fastpass-style timed return tickets (typically valid one to four hours after received) are distributed from the Ripsaw gate near the Toon Lagoon bridge. Either way, that wait only gets you into the area; once inside, each ride and shop also requires its only individual wait.

Given his early arrival, Kubersky saw the biggest attractions by 11:30 a.m. and escaped to Emeril’s for a braised pork belly lunch. By then, Islands of Adventure was approaching gridlock, he said.

He did clue us in on Disney’s secretive “NextGen” initiative: To ease the pain of waiting in line, Disney is promoting “the pre-ride queue experience” at some of its older attractions. Kubersky is optimistic about the addition and will keep us updated.

Kubersky also includes a video of one of his favorite new additions, a voice-activated game that allows you to play “fill in the blank” with some ghostly poetry.



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