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Top 5 Tips for a Stress-Free Wizarding World of Harry Potter Visit
As we are in the midst of planning our next trip to Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Island of Adventure in Orlando, we wanted to share our top 5 tips for making your visit as stress-free as possible! Both sides of the park can get very busy, very crowded and potentially stressful with your little ADHDers if you're not prepared. We've narrowed down all of our tips and tricks to the top 5 we think would be the most helpful for any family planning their first visit.
If you want in-depth info on each of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter parks check out our original guides to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley after.
1. Ride then Shop - You cannot bring bags on many of the Harry Potter rides. Now this may not seem like a huge deal, but once you get there you'll quickly realize you have to take a detour before getting in line for some of these rides to stuff all of your bags into one or more rented lockers. These areas were always very crowded when we visited. You can avoid this if you plan to do the parent-swap (we mention this below), but if not, we strongly suggest packing your bag or bags as light as possible and shopping AFTER you ride so you can avoid using more than one locker. We like to fold up my bag into my husbands that way we can fill up 2 bags post-rides, but have less to store ahead of time. Also, we suggest leaving your bag(s) in one locker until you've ridden all the rides in the immediate area so that you don't have to waste more time going through the process of renting lockers prior to riding after the first. This way you can enjoy the rides then shop after and fill those bags to your heart's content!
2. Parent-swap is the way to go with little ones! - This may not be an option for you if your ADHDers are big enough to ride the rides and don't mind fairly drastic movement, but for those who have small kids that don't meet height requirements, get motion sick or who have a lot of anxiety this is the way to go! Last time we visited our youngest wasn't tall enough and our oldest gets motion sickness and didn't want to go on many rides, so Dad and I were able to make good use of the parent-swap option. It's fantastic because one adult stays with the little guys who wait in a nice cool room while the other gets plugged in as a single on a ride, then you swap and the other parent waits while the other parent rides. It really didn't add much time onto our total time there and we were able to skip a large portion of the line as a result because we were technically "singles". As mentioned above, we also didn't have to store our bags since they could stay with the non-riding parent.
3. Stores are small so plan ahead. - If you have a little ADHDer that can't keep his/her hands off of all the fun things inside these magical stores, I would avoid some of the stores with breakable items at arm's reach. When it gets busy, stores are fairly crammed with eager Harry Potter enthusiasts, which can be overwhelming and over-stimulating to little ADHDers. Stores that sell a great deal of clothing or plush merchandise tended to be a little larger and have less breakables at arm's reach from our experience. If you have a little ADHDer that seems to be teetering on the verge of a meltdown, consider grabbing frozen Butterbeer or ice cream and taking a rest while one parent runs into smaller stores.
4. Over-budget on what you plan to spend on merchandise. - I cannot stress enough how easy it is to spend a good amount at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade on branded merchandise. Odds are, if you're visiting one or both you and/or your family are total Potter fans. The merchandise there blows all of the merchandise you've seen at Barnes & Nobles, Toys R Us and anywhere online out of the water! Quality is generally great, attention to detail is stellar and there are volumes of variety. Trust me, you will feel compelled to buy some goodies and since price tags are on par with park prices, you'll want to make sure you have enough budgeted. If you plan to buy robes and wands, budget even more. Even if you're the type that never buys souvenirs I guarantee you'll feel compelled to buy some of the amazing goodies they offer!
5. Park-to-Park tickets are worth it for Harry Potter fans! - We've talked about it a great deal and really feel like you get a more complete experience if you visit both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. While there is a little crossover between the two (2 Olivander's for example), they are so different in look and feel and they both offer different rides and shops. If you can only do one, read through our posts and determine which your family would most likely prefer based on your personal opinions. However, if you're a total Potter fan and/or have a little Potter fan in your family do both if possible!
There you have it! Those are our top 5 tips narrowed down from all of our tips for both sides of Wizarding World of Harry Potter we've mentioned in the past. We suggest reading our posts on Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley as well to get a better feel for both parks, but hopefully these tips help get your started on the right foot when planning your family's trip to Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Have you visited Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Do you have any tips your family sticks to to make your trip as fun and stress-free as possible?