Orlando - Disney & Universal: How crowded in early/mid January?
Jan 4, 12, 9:15 am
My wife and I are taking advantage of not having kids by visiting Walt Disney World and Universal's Islands of Adventure in what we hope will be extreme down-time: next week, after schools are back in session and the holidays are over. We're planning on spending a day at Islands of Adventure (for Harry Potter World and rides) and two at Disney (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, the usual), and I'm trying to figure out how crowded the resorts will likely be and what to plan for in terms of tickets. Specifically, I've heard that Harry Potter World was crowded day-in-day-out when it opened, but is it likely to be crowded even midweek in January - and, accordingly, do I need to spring for priority passes to skip lines? Similarly, are we making a big mistake by staying off-site (we weren't planning on getting up early enough to take advantage of early park admission), or will we be OK parking, picking up tickets from will-call, etc.?
Jan 4, 12, 9:32 am
The couple of weeks after New Years rends to be quieter in the parks. Holidays are over, kids back in school, and the weather is coldish for Florida. Staying off-site is OK if that's what you want to do. Have you ever been to any of the parks? Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are next to each other and you can walk from one to the other. You may want to get a two park pass and do both.
Jan 4, 12, 9:34 am
As far as crowd sizes go i would imagine they would less than your normal crowd. It's January, kids in school, etc. While you will still have to wait like at any park, it shouldn't be terrible.
As far as staying offsite - I think thats a great idea. Unless you were bringing the kids, or planning on doing early activities then it's by worth it. And I imagine that you saved quite a bit by staying off site.
Jan 4, 12, 10:20 am
The Disney Marathon weekend starts on the 5th and runs until the 8th. I imagine it will be a bit more crowded for the weekend and maybe a few days before and after. But it still won't be that crowded. For adults, the only advantage to staying onsite would be extra late hours, but they don't have them every night, so check the park schedules. Sometimes you can get on every ride in a few hours when it's uncrowded during the extra hours.
I imagine Universal will be about the same. BUT, I always recommend staying at a Universal hotel for at least 1 night to take advanage of front of the line access. It's worth every penny and good for 2 full days (check in day and check out day). You an move offsite for the rest of your stay.
Jan 4, 12, 10:23 am
...accordingly, do I need to spring for priority passes to skip lines? Note that the main Harry Potter ride does not have a front of the line access queue. The only other option for that ride is to stay on-site at Universal to get the early hours access.
With that said, I've been to the parks just after NYs before and they are definitely down in terms of crowds. So if you stayed off-site and got the park just as it opens, head straight for the HP ride, you probably will be just fine. (You may not even need to do that much, but if you are only planning on being there 1 day, I wouldn't chance it.) I would suggest you not purchase the Front of the Line passes until you get to the park and see if you need them (for the other rides of course.) I suspect you will be fine with out them.
I do tend to agree with Mary2e though about staying onsite at Universal when possible. I don't think I've gone there since they opened the Royal Pacific Hotel and not stayed onsite (at least for some of the nights). I just love the convienence and the Front of the line access. Then I don't have to worry about crowds at all. And as I mentioned, you can get to the park early and get into the HP section before everyone else gets to enter.
Jan 4, 12, 10:51 am
Front of the line access by staying on site is definitely worth it. It also saves u parking fees in some cases. Also, at disney you can typically stay on site for about as cheap as off site at their budget hotels and avoid the traffic woes, etc.