The most valuable perk available to all Universal on-site Resort Hotel guests is Early Park Admission (EPA, also sometimes referred to as Early Entry), which grants entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 1 hour before the general public. This perk is given for free to all guests staying at a Universal Orlando on-site hotel guests, including those staying at Cabana Bay. In addition, guests holding certain designated "vacation packages" purchased through Universal Orlando Vacations (Universal Orlando Vacations or 1-877-801-9720) involving both accommodations at a Universal partner hotel and theme park admission are also allowed in early. (Early Park Admission is also occasionally offered to Annual Passholders.)

Which park you may enter on any particular day, and which attractions will be operating, are at Universal’s discretion and will vary with the attendance seasons, as described below. The turnstiles to the park(s) participating in early entry will open between 60 and 90 minutes before the official opening time. Both hotel and day guests will be admitted to the park, and each EPA-eligible guest (including children) will need to show his or her own room key to pass beyond the park's entry plaza during the early admission hour. Guests not eligible for early park admission will be held in an alternative area to await the official opening time.

During early park admission, all of the attractions, shops, and restaurants in the participating Wizarding World area should be open, along with select attractions outside the Harry Potter area. Early entry is by far the best time to experience Escape from Gringotts or Forbidden Journey without waiting an hour or more in the standby queue. However, if the headliner attraction is not operational when early entry begins, skip the ride and try again late in the day; by the time it begins running in the morning, there will be a huge backlog of riders.

Early Park Admission procedures seem to change often and arbitrarily with no warning. Ask at your hotel's front desk to find out what opening procedures are in effect during your visit.

IOA-Only Early Park Admission (Off-Season Standard)

Beginning January 2015, during most of the year only Islands of Adventure (and not Universal Studios Florida) will admit eligible guests for early park admission. IOA-only early entry is currently scheduled to run from April 12, 2015 through the start of the summer season on June 21, 2015.

The following attractions should be available during IOA-only early park admission:

Islands of Adventure

In addition, on days that USF does not offer Early Park Admission, it will still unofficially open 30 minutes before the scheduled time, with the following attractions open for all guests (hotel and off-site alike):

Guests entering USF early may also enter the queue for Escape from Gringotts, though the ride itself will not begin running until the park is officially open.

The Hogwarts Express train from Hogsmeade Station should begin operating up to 30 minutes before USF officially opens for the day. The first trainload of guests riding from IOA will enter Diagon Alley around the same time or shortly after the first guests entering through USF's front gates.

USF-Only Early Park Admission (Off-Season Alternate)

During some off-peak periods, Early Park Admission may be confined confined to Universal Studios Florida. USF-only early entry was offered for the first few months after Diagon Alley's debut summer, but is not currently scheduled to return, though it could be reinstated without warning at Universal's whim.

The following attractions should be available during USF-only early park admission:

Universal Studios Florida

The Hogwarts Express train from King's Cross Station will not begin running to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure until ten minutes before both parks have officially opened for the day. The first trainload of guests riding from USF will enter Hogsmeade around the same time or shortly after the first guests entering through IOA's front gates.

Two-Park Early Park Admission (Peak Season)

Universal Orlando only guarantees early admission to one park per day, but during the busiest times of the year -- primarily the weeks around Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas -- Universal offers early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas at both Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade).

Most recently, early park admission was offered in both parks on the following dates:

However, at times only the front gates of one park may open during early park admission. In order to enter the other park during early park admission, guests may be required to use a park-to-park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express train from one Wizarding World to the other. When both parks are scheduled open at the same time, the Hogwarts Express will begin running when early park admission starts. When one park opens later than the other, the train will begin running up to 30 minutes before the second park opens for early park admission.

The following attractions should be available during peak season early park admission:

Universal Studios Florida

Islands of Adventure

Annual Passholder Early Park Admission

On certain days during slower times of year, Universal Orlando historically has allowed its Annual Passholders to enjoy some form of Early Park Admission. Check Universal's Annual Passholder website for current promotions.

In Fall and Winter 2014, all Passholders can utilize Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida on weekdays (Monday through Friday) from September 1-30, November 3-14, November 18-21, and December 1-18.

Last updated by Seth Kubersky on April 13, 2015