USF Early Entry, IOA Rollercoaster Strategy

mechteach1

Mouseketeer
Joined
Sep 8, 2019
It's been about a year since we were at UO, so I wanted to make sure my strategy for the parks is up to date! We generally do early entry (like really early - first in line at the turnstiles) while we are there since the kids (now teens) like to get to whichever HP section first, while it is still empty.

We're going to be there this coming weekend for a super-short, 2-day trip. If we do early entry at USF on Saturday, what is the best strategy for getting over to IOA to ride Hagrids and Velocicoaster? Should we walk out of the front gate and over to the other one, keeping in mind we might be a bit back in the line at that point? Take the Hogwarts Express? I know that the HE used to be a terrible idea when they would walk you from the front of the park into the Hagrids line, but I didn't know if that has changed. And should we try to hit Hagrids or Velocicoaster first?

I know that these are a lot of questions, but any guidance would be very useful! We are staying at the HRH, so we will have express pass, so the other rides aren't as tricky to sort out.
 

macraven

Proud Redhead
Moderator
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Walk to the other park

Last time I was at UO was February this year maybe things have changed since then?

It was faster to walk to the other park as the Hogexpress did not open until 9
Line was full and would be faster to hit the other park by walking over that was to open at 9

We did early entry at the studios and the line for HE started to fill up around 8:40
We would have had a long wait if we stayed and used that line for the train as train did not leave until 9 sharp

I’m sure others may had have an opposing experience depending on the day they were there
 

ClapYourHands

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Walk! Early entry is at 7 with regular entry at 8 for US and entry for IOA at 9. My strategy would be to get to the parks before 7, and do EPA at US for an hour. At 8, walk over to IOA and you’ll be very well placed to rope drop Hagrid’s.
On Sunday, we got to IOA around 8:15, and were maybe 10 people back at a turnstile, then noticed another turnstile opening, and went to be first there. At opening we did a walk/run and were the first ones of the day on Hagrid’s, and even went back through the Hagrid’s line with a relatively short wait. From there you can go over to Velocicoaster and the wait should still be reasonable. Velocicoaster loads quickly and churns people through efficiently.
 

cschaaf

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 19, 2013
Walk. If they opened the IOA gate and HE at the same time, getting on the first train might be faster?? But if you missed that first one, you'd definitely be way behind. If they open the gate even a few minutes early, the first train would also put you behind.

I always vote for riding Hagrid's first - its line grows faster than JWV and it's more likely to experience delays.

We have a trip in mid-October and I think, for the first time, we won't plan on EPA - and we love EPA. We'll plan to rope drop IOA for Hagrid's/JWV since neither have EP lines.

Like @ClapYourHands said, you could spend the EPA hour in USO, then leave and line up for IOA. If your group are 'normal' walkers, this sounds like a great strategy.

For us, we're slow walkers and try to avoid a lot of extra walking. It would be a lot for us to walk the whole way back to Gringott's, ride, then walk the whole way back through the park and over to IOA. Add in that we will make our way to USO at some point during the day and can EP Gringott''s, it's not a plan we'll likely follow.
 

twincruisers

I love it when a plan comes together
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Walk! Early entry is at 7 with regular entry at 8 for US and entry for IOA at 9. My strategy would be to get to the parks before 7, and do EPA at US for an hour. At 8, walk over to IOA and you’ll be very well placed to rope drop Hagrid’s.
On Sunday, we got to IOA around 8:15, and were maybe 10 people back at a turnstile, then noticed another turnstile opening, and went to be first there. At opening we did a walk/run and were the first ones of the day on Hagrid’s, and even went back through the Hagrid’s line with a relatively short wait. From there you can go over to Velocicoaster and the wait should still be reasonable. Velocicoaster loads quickly and churns people through efficiently.
What's EPA? I couldn't figure it out...
 

gstack74

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Hagrid’s single rider line was 10 min wait the last week of Aug. if u want to ride that a few times that is my suggestion. And for velocicoaster the normal line was faster than the single rider the 2 times we rode it
 
  • mechteach1

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 8, 2019
    Wow, thank you all so much! This is tremendously helpful with planning our strategy! We don't mind the extra steps back to the park entrance and over to IOA, though my feet might disagree by the time we are done with HHN later that night. :rotfl2:(We will be taking a mid-day rest, so it isn't toooo bad.)
     

    snowwhite84

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2006
    Love the advice! Does anyone know if rope dropping Hagrids/Velocicoaster is a better strategy than trying for virtual queue?
     

    ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    Love the advice! Does anyone know if rope dropping Hagrids/Velocicoaster is a better strategy than trying for virtual queue?
    VQ is not running lately unless it’s really crowded. From another thread it sounds like the “new” VQ that rolled out this summer where you scan the QR code gives pretty low wait times. So if you’re there during a really busy time and they’re using VQ, try to get that. Otherwise, they’re just doing standby, and the waits seem to stay about 60 minutes throughout the day. Probably the safest bet is to rope drop, and then check back later in the day to see if VQ is running and try for a second ride if it is.
     

    snowwhite84

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2006
    VQ is not running lately unless it’s really crowded. From another thread it sounds like the “new” VQ that rolled out this summer where you scan the QR code gives pretty low wait times. So if you’re there during a really busy time and they’re using VQ, try to get that. Otherwise, they’re just doing standby, and the waits seem to stay about 60 minutes throughout the day. Probably the safest bet is to rope drop, and then check back later in the day to see if VQ is running and try for a second ride if it is.
    Thanks!
     
  • ofcabbagesandkings

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2014
    Would you still recommend the RD IOA plan to someone with small kids? I'll have a 5 and 9 year old, going to WHOP for the first time, and we'll definitely RD EPA at US so the kids can get their wands and ride Gringotts. I'll probably rent a stroller for the 5 year old because he's short for his age (I rented one when his brother was 4.5 and it really helped us have longer days in the WDW parks). I wouldn't mind lining up for HE at 8:30 or 8:15 or whenever if it meant we might make it over to Hagrid's in time to not have too long of a wait.
     

    ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    Would you still recommend the RD IOA plan to someone with small kids? I'll have a 5 and 9 year old, going to WHOP for the first time, and we'll definitely RD EPA at US so the kids can get their wands and ride Gringotts. I'll probably rent a stroller for the 5 year old because he's short for his age (I rented one when his brother was 4.5 and it really helped us have longer days in the WDW parks). I wouldn't mind lining up for HE at 8:30 or 8:15 or whenever if it meant we might make it over to Hagrid's in time to not have too long of a wait.
    HE is not likely to get you to IOA near the front of the RD pack. Usually the people at the gates are let in at least a little early - 10 or 15 minutes before official opening. Even if you're in the first group on HE, you're probably not going to get going until 9, and the rope drop crowd will already be in in the queue.

    If your kids just want to buy a wand from Ollivander's, going during EPA is fine. If they want to get picked in the wand ceremony to buy their wands, then EPA is not a particularly good time for that. US only has Gringotts and the wand ceremony during EPA, so both get crowded. It is, however, a generally good time to go directly to the windows and practice your spells with minimal wait, since most people go for the ride or the wand experience.

    When are you going? Your siggy says it's 3 months until you board the Hogwarts express. If so, the EPA for US then RD for IoA strategy will be moot. US is opening so early because it's closing at 5 for HHN now through early November. After that, it's unlikely US will be opening two hours before IOA.
     

    ofcabbagesandkings

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2014
    When are you going? Your siggy says it's 3 months until you board the Hogwarts express. If so, the EPA for US then RD for IoA strategy will be moot. US is opening so early because it's closing at 5 for HHN now through early November. After that, it's unlikely US will be opening two hours before IOA.
    We're going the week before Xmas day, leaving the 23rd of December (assuming my kids can get vaxxed). I had hoped that it might be just busy enough at that time that they'll open the Hagrid's VQ. My tentative plan was to go to Ollivander's in Diagon Alley on our arrival night so they can get their wands, then spend our first real morning in the parks doing the spells, shops, and Gringotts (we'll have EP with our hotel). Then HE over to IOA whenever our VQ slot opens up to ride FJ, Hagrid's and Hippogriff, and check out Hogsmeade, then head further into IOA for lunch. But if the VQ doesn't open, we'll save Hagrid's for RD on our second park day.
     

    ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    We're going the week before Xmas day, leaving the 23rd of December (assuming my kids can get vaxxed). I had hoped that it might be just busy enough at that time that they'll open the Hagrid's VQ. My tentative plan was to go to Ollivander's in Diagon Alley on our arrival night so they can get their wands, then spend our first real morning in the parks doing the spells, shops, and Gringotts (we'll have EP with our hotel). Then HE over to IOA whenever our VQ slot opens up to ride FJ, Hagrid's and Hippogriff, and check out Hogsmeade, then head further into IOA for lunch. But if the VQ doesn't open, we'll save Hagrid's for RD on our second park day.
    That's really high crowd time so I think you can count on VQ running during at least part of your trip. Getting the wands the night before is a good strategy. If for some reason they don't have VQ (very unlikely, but just for the sake of argument), then you're right to focus on doing Hagrid's right at rope drop, regardless of which park has EPA. Since you have express, there's no rush to get to Gringott's, so you could just flip-flop your current plans and do the Hogsmeade activities before taking HE over to do the Diagon Alley ones.
     


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