After months of being exclusive to Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, Early Park Admission has returned to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley inside Universal Studios Florida, and the Unofficial Guide was there on opening day to help you take advantage of this valuable perk.
The best-known bonus available for free to all Universal Orlando on-site resort hotel guests is Early Park Admission (EPA, also sometimes referred to as early entry), which grants entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 1 hour before the general public. Which park you may enter on any particular day varies with the attendance seasons; starting on May 3, 2021 through June 13, Early Park Admission returned to Universal Studios Florida only.
In addition to guests staying at on-site hotels, guests holding certain designated vacation packages—purchased through Universal Orlando Vacations and including both accommodations at an off-site Universal partner hotel and theme park admission—are allowed in early. Premier Pass holders can take advantage of EPA at USF or IOA on any morning, as can Preferred Pass holders on select days (block-outs apply).
The turnstiles to the park participating in early entry will open 60–90 minutes before the official opening time; typically, if EPA begins at 8 a.m., USF will begin admitting guests at 7:45 a.m.
Guests will begin forming queues in front of USF’s main gates up to an hour before EPA begins. Look for a side entrance to the far right of the Will Call Kiosks, which may have a much shorter line.
Both hotel and day guests will be admitted to the park as soon as the gates open, but only EPA-eligible guests are allow to proceed beyond the park’s New York area. All members of your party (including children) will need to show their own room key or annual pass to a Team Member.
During EPA at USF, all of the attractions, shops, and restaurants in Diagon Alley should be open, along with Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Attractions offer standby queues during EPA (along with single-rider lines and child swap, where available), but Express Passes are valid only during regular operating hours.
If you are at the head of the pack, Early Park Admission allows you to enjoy Escape from Gringotts without masses of Muggles around to mess up your pristine photos of the spectacular queue.
The downside is that Gringotts frequently experiences delays first thing in the morning, causing frustration for waiting guests while valuable EPA minutes tick by. If Gringotts is not operational when early entry begins, spend your early entry time enjoying Diagon Alley’s decor and try the ride again late in the day; by the time it begins running in the morning, there will be a huge backlog of riders.
Ollivanders in Diagon Alley is also open during Early Park Admission, unlike in Hogsmeade where it opens with the rest of the park. The first few parties of the morning go right into the wand selection show, but a long queue can form within 10 minutes of opening; ask a wandkeeper at the entrance if free return times are being distributed.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem usually opens to all park guests 10–15 minutes before EPA ends. Day guests are sometimes also allowed to queue for Transformers: The Ride 3-D, Revenge of the Mummy, or Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit prior to the official park opening time.
Keep in mind that the Hogwarts Express train from King’s Cross Station does not begin running to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Hogsmeade in IOA until both parks have opened their gates to guests. The first trainload of guests riding from USF will enter Hogsmeade shortly after the first guests entering through IOA’s front gates. As a result, we’re still seeing extremely long lines of guests outside Islands of Adventure each morning. In fact, the queue waiting for IOA almost an hour after park opening can be bigger than the crowd that forms for EPA at USF.
Guests intent on riding Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure or the Jurassic World VelociCoaster in the morning will need to forgo Early Park Admission privileges at Universal Studios Florida for the time being and line up outside Islands of Adventure at least 45-60 minutes early instead. If you choose to attend EPA at USF, you can head over to IOA after it opens and enjoy other attractions with shorter waits, as long as you save those two headlining roller-coasters for afternoon or evening.
For all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.