Universal Orlando likely to have another big year with Harry Potter

Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011 1:02 PM | Contributed by Jeff

After exceeding most expectations in 2010, Universal Orlando's now-7-month-old Wizarding World of Harry Potter is expected to continue attracting significant traffic even as Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay unveil new additions.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:40 PM

Is Universal still fairly busy this time of the year? We are thinking of going down in the middle of Feb. to my parents in Clearwater and are thinking of going to the Universal parks. I mean, I know Christmas time is slammed and all, but what about this time of year?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:48 PM

This past Friday was ridiculously busy, the Saturday and Sunday were definitely manageable

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 5:13 PM

Like anywhere else, you can tell by the operational hours and the rates of the hotels. I'm going down next week, because the room rates are down for about a week-and-a-half window. Then they go back up a bit.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 6:33 PM

I was at IoA last Wednesday and Thursday, I would have thought crowds would be low after New Years Day but both Disney and Universal were somewhat crowded, not Christmas week levels but more crowded than last January. You could barely walk through the Harry Potter area both days, Forbidden Journey was 90 minutes standby late in the day Wednesday, Olivanders was also said to be 90 minutes late Thursday morning.

Last edited by YoshiFan, Tuesday, January 11, 2011 6:33 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 6:44 PM

Went down last Wedsnesday to meet up with Homey G and family....lines were fairly short most everywhere around the complex, but there were still pretty long waits to get into the shops around WWoHP. I was probably in line with YoshiFan, LOL, as the sign read 90 when we queued, but turned out to be about 75mins. The thing that was a shocker for Homey - hour-long lines to buy merchandise. I'm not the least bit surprised by that any more...the ERT event with walk-on rides all over WWoHP and 90-minute waits to buy pins and such - proved to me that Potter will be an enduring success for at least another 3-5 years...

Universal hit one OUT of the park...the dividends have just started rolling in...but I still wish they'd left Dragons well enough alone.

edit: re-read what I wrote earlier. The qualifier "financially" should be applied liberally. Forbidden Journey is awesomeness, but other than THAT ride, the entire area is doing nothing but bringing in *vast* quantities of dollars. More than Cecil Newton ever dreamed, LOL. :)

Last edited by rollergator, Tuesday, January 11, 2011 8:28 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 8:13 PM

Re: crowds last week. Apparently, a number of school districts shifted their breaks to start just before Christmas, and extend through last weekend---at least, that's what the data collection/analysis wonks over at the WDW Unofficial Guide think happened.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:27 PM

Thanks for all the info guys. Not a done deal yet, but most likely hitting Universal in the middle of the week. Kinda wish we could go down in May so I could ride Cheetah Hunt, but oh well. But, I kinda have doubts if that will be running on time anyways.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 7:28 AM

I'm heading down in mid February as well, although I haven't figured out what days yet. One will likely be a Friday, but I'm attempting to avoid the park on Saturday. If the weather cooperates, hopefully I'll be doing Discovery Cove on Saturday, which should help us avoid the lines elsewhere that day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:13 PM

I have been down here since last Friday, and been to the parks every day since. HP is very busy each and every day. Universal has been a bit less busy than IOA but crowds not too terrible this week. Weekends were busier and the least busy day was Monday due to the rain I suppose. The HP ride was walk on, as was the rest of the park during the last two hours or so. But really the crowds not that bad especially if you use the single rider lines.

Last edited by SteveWoA, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:15 PM
Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:35 AM

The thing that was a shocker for Homey - hour-long lines to buy merchandise.

I was shocked to see that too. Needless to say the second week in Nov when I was there...I did not do any shopping in Potterland! The store lines were actually longer than the ride (30 minutes). I actually wish I could have had more time in the "journey" line. I consider the line part of the attraction. This might be the first (only?) ride I would EVER say that about!

Anyhow...waiting in line to buy a $50 plastic wand does not compute for me. But no doubt this thing is bigger than the most optimistic projections could have foreshadowed.

Last edited by Aamilj, Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:36 AM
Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:27 PM

Indeed, incorporating Potter into one area of a theme park might have been thinking too small. Given the enduring popularity of all things Harry, a whole park solely dedicated to the phenomenon probably would have succeeded wildly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 1:26 PM

I'm not sure if I'm convinced of that or not. The films and books are epic in nature, but I think it's too early to call as to whether or not they're long-term classics. I mean, I even question the longevity of Jurassic Park, and the original remains one of my favorite movies of all time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 1:59 PM

I haven't read the books or seen the movie. I don't think I'd want to visit a stand-alone park. It'd be an overload of stuff I don't care about. As a section of IOA, though, I did enjoy it. It was just enough for me, and they have the capacity to expand it if the bump it provides proves to be sustainable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 2:22 PM

Only time will tell. Look how long it took for Disney to realize what they had on their hands in Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. Kids will be watching those decades from now, and I suspect the same may hold true for the HP series.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 2:30 PM

Re: Harry Potter Park

Would a stand alone Star Wars park work? To what scale are we talking about; Vegas attraction (~3 rides, some shops) or a full "Orlando Experience" (~12 rides, shows, etc)? That's probably the closest franchise to the popularity now that could compare to Harry Potter

But seeing as all trends tend to die, dedicating a park to something which inevitably has a mainstream end lacks the ability to be sustainable, I think. Whereas, if it's just a section of the park, and assuming the franchise doesn't get revamped (Terminator, for example) it could eventually (maybe 20 or more years later) be replaced by something new (Back to Future->Simpsons)

Last edited by jonnytips, Thursday, January 13, 2011 2:31 PM
Friday, January 14, 2011 12:36 PM

I dunno, I look at Disney, which hasn't lost it's mainstream value and I don't see it happening. And that's without Mickey or Minnie being in any movies or shows in years (Why don't they put their most famous characters in new movies?!).

Same with the Marvel and DC Characters.

I don't see those brands as fads, but Potter could very quickly die out. I think the reason that Jurrassic Park still 'works' is because regardless of the brand, kids dig dinosaurs (Pun intended), and even if they haven't seen what is still a great film, they're going to love the Dino aspect of it.

Friday, January 14, 2011 3:37 PM

I think kids are perpetually fascinated by magic and imagination - I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched are certainly old-school, but the overwhelming success of the Potter franchise wasn't completely unforeseeable. I give it 10-12 years *at the bare minimum* before Universal might even begin making new plans for that area - 15 until implementation.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 9:28 PM

I got two rides on Forbidden Journey this morning... wow. Honestly, even with the hype, it still exceeded my expectations. The queue is fairly amazing as well. The attention to detail overall is just stunning. What a fantastic ride.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 2:13 AM

How busy was the park? What were the wait times like for Forbidden Journey? We'll be going in a couple weeks and we were wondering if things would have quieted down after the holiday season.


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