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Universal

Family Dinner at Three Broomsticks

MouseSavers.com reader Jatinder reports: “the family dinner at Three Broomsticks in Harry Potter was a great bargain and decent food for an amusement park. For $50 (10% off with AAA) you get a large salad with Italian dressing, 4 pieces of chicken (2 each breast/wing and leg/thigh), 4 ribs, sautéed vegetables and roasted potatoes. Nothing fried and all quite tasty, both rare in an amusement park.”

Refillable Drinks & Popcorn Buckets

For cheap snacks, you can’t beat the refillable soft drink mugs and popcorn buckets available at Universal Orlando. Prices below are subject to change at any time:

  • Many locations throughout both theme parks and CityWalk sell refillable soft drink mugs for $7.99 plus tax. Refills cost 89 cents plus tax. Although the signs suggest that the refills are good on the day of purchase only, in reality you can bring your mug back on future days and get the cheap refills.
  • MouseSavers.com reader Clement P reports that in March 2012, Universal was offering a buy two, get one FREE deal on the soft drink mugs, making them an even better deal if you have at least 3 people!
  • Many locations throughout both theme parks (but not CityWalk) sell refillable buckets of popcorn for $4.99 plus tax. Refills cost 89 cents plus tax. Although the signs suggest that the refills are good on the day of purchase only, in reality you can bring your bucket back on future days and get the cheap refills.

AAA/CAA Discounts

Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) save 10% at select dining and merchandise locations:

  • Select locations in the two theme parks. (Offer excludes merchandise or food carts, tattoos, alcohol, tobacco, candy, film, collectibles and sundry items.) If you belong to AAA or CAA, be sure to ask at every theme park restaurant and shop whether there is a discount.
  • Universal Orlando CityWalk restaurants and shops. (Offer excludes merchandise or food carts, tattoos, alcohol, tobacco, candy, film, collectibles or sundry items. Discount on food, non-alcoholic drinks and merchandise at all CityWalk restaurants and shops with the exception of Emeril’s, Bubba Gump, Fossil and Fresh Produce.) Valid up to six people per AAA membership card. Show your membership card to get the discount.

Universal Express Plus Pass

With the purchase of a regular-priced ticket or pass, you can pay an extra fee (which varies by season, usually $15-$45 per person) to get the Express Plus Pass. It gives you one entry through the Express entrance for each attraction that participates, with no pre-determined ride time and no need to pick up a pass for each attraction. I think this would be worth the extra money only at very peak times in the parks.

 

Tips and Tricks for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  • If you plan to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter you would be wise to get in line at the front gates of Islands of Adventure at least an hour before the official opening time.
  • Once inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, your best touring plan is:
    • Ollivander’s is a very cute 5-minute show that Harry Potter fans will enjoy. (If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, just skip it completely.) Due to the show’s small capacity, the line can be very long. If you want to experience the show, try first thing in the morning. If the line is already long when you get there, wait and try again at lunchtime, or in the last hour before the park closes.
    • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the “big” ride that you don’t want to miss. See below for tips and tricks.
    • Shopping – All of the shops are small and there can be long lines to get in as the crowds build. If you want a wand, the same ones sold at Dervish and Banges (which almost always has a long line to get in) are for sale at a cart near Forbidden Journey.
    • Three Broomsticks/Butterbeer – If you don’t care about eating a meal in Three Broomsticks, go in during a non-mealtime and get a Butterbeer. The staff in Three Broomsticks may tell you to go out on the patio if you “only” order Butterbeer. Try to ignore those instructions, because the patio is not themed to any degree. You want to be inside, where you can enjoy the owl special effects. (Note that during non-mealtimes, it’s MUCH faster to get a Butterbeer in Three Broomsticks than to wait in the long lines at the Butterbeer carts on the street! Also, almost everyone seems to like the frozen Butterbeer better than the regular.) There can be long waits at mealtimes for Three Broomsticks during busy times of year, so if you want to eat there, either book a vacation package that includes breakfast, or try to eat at an odd hour.

 

Tips and Tricks for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

  • The single rider line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey usually goes very fast. “Single rider” means you’re willing to fill any empty seat and not ride with the rest of your party. Signage is minimal for the single rider line: ask a Team Member at the beginning of the line outside the Castle.
  • The single rider line bypasses the amazing Castle effects, which you will definitely want to see, but there’s a way around that. You can go through the “tour” line to see Hogwarts instead of standing in the normal line. You can take your time, enjoy all the animations and stick around to see the multiple versions of each one. Then when you’re ready to ride, go in the single-rider line. MouseSavers.com reader Jeffrey L reports, “The normal line was 60 minutes or longer, but I took the tour and rode 3 times [in the single rider line] with almost no wait each time.”
  • Lines for the lockers outside of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey are long and cause big bottlenecks. To avoid this, try not to bring things like camera bags or day packs that will have to go in a locker. Alternatively, pay for an all-day locker at the front of the park. A small waist pack or small items (cell phone/camera/sunglasses) that you can stuff in a pocket will allow you to skip the lockers. However, if you are borderline on fitting into the seats (see below), you won’t want anything in your pockets or around your waist that could bulk you up.
  • The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction has significant size restrictions. There is a minimum height requirement of 48 inches. Also, some larger-sized adults do not fit in the unusual overhead seat restraints. Seats on some cars now have modified restraints that accommodate more body types. If you are in the “obese” BMI category (check your BMI here), like more than 30% of American adults, you may need one of the seats with the modified restraints. People with large chests (about 48″ or more), large midsections and/or large thighs may also need to use the modified restraints. Sample seats are available at the front of the attraction and offer a “traffic light” system: red light, you can’t ride; yellow light, you can wait for one of the newly modified seats; green light, you can take any seat. If you think you may be borderline on fitting into the restraints, be sure to wear non-bulky clothing and empty your pockets before riding.