Managing expectations

planningjollyholiday

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
My family and I might be able to swing a short trip the week leading up to Thanksgiving. We would get to the parks around 11am on the Saturday, have a full day on Sunday and then until around 3ish on Monday. Buying express pass or staying at a hotel that offers it is probably out of our budget so we would have to do standby. We have never been to universal so I really don't know what to expect. Will it be insanely crowded? Will we even have enough time to get both parks done? How longish do you think we will have to wait in line for the rides, particularly the HP ones? I'm really worried about having to stand in long lines, (at Disney anything longer than 30 minutes we usually just skip) and wondering if it would even be worth it to go given the time of year and short timeframes. Any incite would be great!
 

PrincessWithABlaster

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
We've been that weekend the last two years but we've had express pass. Without it, I'd try to get as much done as possible on Sat and Sun. By Mon, things are getting pretty busy. I would hit whatever you can on that Sat. By the time you get there, the HP areas are going to be pretty busy so I'd focus on other areas and come back later in the evening. If you plan to eat at 3B or LC, I would do it that night for dinner - lunch at both places is pretty busy. I would probably watch the app to see if there is a less busy wait for Gringotts and then on Sun am go to Forbidden Journey. Or, assuming you get park to park tickets, go to Gringotts first thing and ride the Hogwarts Express over to ride FJ. I don't know what to say about Hagrids. Right now people have been able to ride with ~1 hr waits in the afternoon but it's a lot slower now than it will be that weekend (I don't know what we're going to do - RD or try the afternoon route - either).

You will likely be waiting more than 30 mins for things you really want to do. Try to catch anything that was too busy on Sat or Sun first thing Mon. I'm a bad judge of being 'done' since we'll go on things multiple times. I think you would be able to see a lot in 2 days even though it's busy and you won't have EP. You probably want to have a prioritized plan though of the things you really want to see.
 

planningjollyholiday

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
We've been that weekend the last two years but we've had express pass. Without it, I'd try to get as much done as possible on Sat and Sun. By Mon, things are getting pretty busy. I would hit whatever you can on that Sat. By the time you get there, the HP areas are going to be pretty busy so I'd focus on other areas and come back later in the evening. If you plan to eat at 3B or LC, I would do it that night for dinner - lunch at both places is pretty busy. I would probably watch the app to see if there is a less busy wait for Gringotts and then on Sun am go to Forbidden Journey. Or, assuming you get park to park tickets, go to Gringotts first thing and ride the Hogwarts Express over to ride FJ. I don't know what to say about Hagrids. Right now people have been able to ride with ~1 hr waits in the afternoon but it's a lot slower now than it will be that weekend (I don't know what we're going to do - RD or try the afternoon route - either).

You will likely be waiting more than 30 mins for things you really want to do. Try to catch anything that was too busy on Sat or Sun first thing Mon. I'm a bad judge of being 'done' since we'll go on things multiple times. I think you would be able to see a lot in 2 days even though it's busy and you won't have EP. You probably want to have a prioritized plan though of the things you really want to see.
thanks for the info! If I did get express pass would that be a huge game changer? Would that mean I would be able to walk onto all the rides? Our budget is so tight but will likely not be back anytime soon. I could potentially stay oniste at royal Pacific on Sunday night which would get me unlimited Express pass on Sunday and Monday? This would cost me an extra $300ish, is it worth it?
 
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  • disneyseniors

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2014
    Yes, yes, yes, it is worth it to stay at RPR one night for EP's for 2 days!! We are not rich, but figured the cost of tickets, EP, and what we wanted to accomplish in our 2 days time. We knew the HP land was the most important, but there is so much more to do and see. Don't miss the Horror Makeup Show, hilarious! It is so nice to be able to go to the front of the line (most of the time, but some of the rides take a while) We never waited over 10 minutes with EP at the rides with long EP lines. RPR is a fantastic hotel, just beautiful. There are the boats to the parks, or you can walk it if you want. At this time of year, it might be more crowded, but am not sure. Have a great time whatever you decide:)
    For the last part of your questions, we do 2 days and see plenty of both parks. I think your Saturday pm, Sunday, and Monday to 3pm will give you plenty of time to see what you want to;
     

    only hope

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2014
    Fyi express isn’t quite like fp. FP is nearly always a 10 mn wait or shorter. Express is a guaranteed shorter wait, up to half the time of standby. Usually it’s a walk on up to ten mn wait, but on very busy days the wait may be longer. I don’t know how busy that particular weekend is. Between Christmas and New Years, express pass waits are longer than what standby waits are most of the year. Feb won’t be quite that level of insanity but the popular rides could have a longer wait. The newest Harry Potter ride (the Hagrid coaster) does not have express yet and probably won’t by February.

    You should be able to do all the attractions with or without express and some of the shows. Having the express pass will give you more time to feel free to wander around the lands and take in the details. If anyone is a huge Harry Potter fan it is very easy to spend two hours in Diagon Alley just seeing the three shows, looking in the shops, and playing with the wand.

    If you do have express, be aware that on many attractions you skip part/all of the themed queue where there is one. Whether that matters depends on how much ya’ll like that particular ip.
     

    CAPSLOCK

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2017
    Are you all okay utilizing single rider lines? That takes a heck of a chunk out of wait times, and could save you the $300 if budget is tight. However, there are parts of the queue that you miss if that's important (most notably Gringotts).
     

    PrincessWithABlaster

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2016
    thanks for the info! If I did get express pass would that be a huge game changer? Would that mean I would be able to walk onto all the rides? Our budget is so tight but will likely not be back anytime soon. I could potentially stay oniste at royal Pacific on Sunday night which would get me unlimited Express pass on Sunday and Monday? This would cost me an extra $300ish, is it worth it?
    If you're not going to be back and you can swing it, it's really helpful. It's not walk on though. It's a significant reduction in time but not walk on. Especially on that Mon, we've been in EP waits as long as 30 minutes (for Minions) and 25 mins (Gringotts). But that was in the afternoon and evening and both rides were over 2 hours stby. We definitely could have been smarter about when we chose to go on those rides, but didn't care that much since we had 4 days. Whether or not it's worth it kind of depends on how important rides are to you. We really enjoy the HP shows and just soaking up the atmosphere which EP doesn't help you with. If you're just looking to ride the major rides once and hang out and see the HP areas, then I would think you have enough time to work most things in and not have waits that are too bad. If the rides are really important to you, then I'd suggest staying at RPR.

    Another thing you might consider if you decide to go without EP is getting a touring plans subscription. It's not something I would normally recommend to anyone for Universal but since it's a busier time of year, it might help you figure out what you need to do in what order to be most efficient. It could also let you see if it's unworkable to get in everything you want to do in the time you have. I think the Universal subscription is less than $10. But all of that involves putting together a detailed plan with their web interface - not sure if that's something you'd want to do.
     
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  • RogueX

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 21, 2019
    One thing to note, unless it has been changed since I visited this past July, you can't use the Express Pass on Hagrids Motorbike Ride. I would also say that if that's a "priority ride" you really, really want to get on, stay in line if there are technical glitches and they stop running or short weather delays. We did that and so many people left. If you leave, you'll end up waiting in a very long line again.
     

    bumbershoot

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2007
    Fyi express isn’t quite like fp. FP is nearly always a 10 mn wait or shorter. Express is a guaranteed shorter wait, up to half the time of standby.
    Neither fast nor express has any wait time guarantee other than it should be shorter than standby.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever had a FP line take 10 minutes or less at Disney. I have had the experience of going on a universal ride repeatedly, again and again, with as much time in line being merely as long as it took us to traverse the EP line.
     

    only hope

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2014
    I’m a local who goes to a WDW park at least 12 times a year, usually more like 20. I encounter a fp line longer than 10mn about 3-4 times a year. It’s almost always 5mn or less til the merge point. You must be getting really unlucky to experience long wait times. Express is generally just as fast or faster than fp, except on high crowd days. Just before Christmas to just after New Year many express lines are 30mn or more. Even an hour is not unheard of for headliners. They sell more express passes on high crowd days than on low crowd days and the lines are longer. The number of fp distributed doesn’t increase to the extent the express pass sales do, so high crowds have more of an impact on express lines than fp lines.
     
  • pangyal

    #TeamSven
    Joined
    Jul 26, 2014
    I agree with all who posted that EP may not be the “game-changer” you are hoping for. I have been paying attention and on our last three Universal trips (mid-December, mid-March, and last week of June) we waited up to 50 minutes in Express lines each time. I actually timed them because I wanted to be able to look at the wait times to determine just how useful EP is and, by extension, if we should stop going at these times of year altogether. We don’t do the big thrill ones, so I don’t have data on Jurassic Park, Hulk or Freefall. All of our visits were on weekdays.

    The following were the worst Express pass waits:
    -Transformers (average of 26 minutes)
    -Gringotts (average of 48 minutes)
    -Kong (average of 29 minutes)
    -Minions (average of 23 minutes)
    -Simpsons (average of 24 minutes)
    -Hippogriff (average of 19 minutes)
    -Hogwart’s Express (average of 18 minutes)

    The following were under ten minutes each time with EP:
    -Forbidden Journey
    -ET
    -Spider-Man
    -Dr Seuss- Trolley in the Sky
    -Men in Black
    -Fast and Furious

    The following were literal walk-ons during all three visits in this past year with EP:
    -Woody’s coaster
    -Popeyes raft ride
    -Storm Force
    -Seuss Carousel
    -Cat in the Hat
    -Twirl ‘N’ Hurl

    So, you can see that you would need to prioritize your target rides, even with EP. For an additional $300, you might not get the results you are hoping for. As well, I would estimate that the actual wait times would be anywhere from two to four times the EP wait length. I would definitely suggest staying at RPR for about the same cost and getting two days of EP instead of one. I think you would likely do everything you wanted to that way.
     

    planningjollyholiday

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 25, 2012
    So I've decided to go ahead and do a split stay with one night at endless summer and one night at royal Pacific for the express pass. After looking at Volcano bay I'm starting to think that would be really cool to add as well. So the plan would be VB on Saturday until close at 5 and then finish the night at the parks until 8. Then I would have Express pass all Sunday and until about 3 on Monday. Would this give me enough time to do the attractions at US and IOA, or is adding the water park pushing it? With the promo right now, 3 day park to park is the same price with or without volcano bay.
     

    glocon

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2010
    Since you will only have ep for two days, I’d suggest VB on the day you don’t have ep- just as you planned!
     

    maverik85

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 27, 2016
    One think I'd recommend for many rides is to do Single Rider lines if you don't mind not sitting right next to each other. Have gone before when it was really busy and most rides had about 2 hour waits. MY friend and I did Single Rider for most and were usually on in about 5-10 minutes for most.
    Rip ride Rockit moved a bit slow for single, as well as Mummy was slower than others but not too bad. Both were still quiker than the standby
     

    Chickinvic

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2019
    Neither fast nor express has any wait time guarantee other than it should be shorter than standby.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever had a FP line take 10 minutes or less at Disney. I have had the experience of going on a universal ride repeatedly, again and again, with as much time in line being merely as long as it took us to traverse the EP line.
    Really? What time of year do you go to Disney? I've almost never waited longer than that in FP lines.
     

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