The two biggest theme park companies in Orlando have taken very different approaches to opening during the coronavirus pandemic. Universal Orlando was the first to open and put many safety features into its parks, including limited park capacity to account for social distancing. When they opened, people were still hesitant about being around crowds so there weren’t many people willing to spend time at a theme park. That allowed Universal to open the gates to whoever wanted to visit. They also let guests to visit both parks on the same day if they had a ticket that allowed park-hopping.
When Walt Disney World opened, they took a different approach and required guests to make a reservation for a single park. With park capacity capped, Disney gave preferential treatment to guests at the Disney hotels, then to single day ticketholders and lastly to those with annual passes. Even if you had a park-hopper pass, you were (and still are) only allowed into one park per day, if you could get a reservation.
For a while, it looked as if Universal was the winner in the public relations battle. Disney fans hated the reservation system and felt that removing the ability to park-hop took away value from their passes. Universal fans could decide to visit at the spur of the moment and even get into both parks.
While this is a developing story, it looks like Universal might be a victim of its own success. I follow some groups for Universal fans and the last few weekends, this has been the view for them as they arrived at the parking garage.
Universal obviously knows this is becoming a problem, as I just received an email from Universal with the title “Important Message from Universal Orlando Resort.”
We wanted to share some important information to help you make the most of your next visit to the parks. Due to increased demand when we’re still limiting attendance as part of our enhanced procedures, there are times when the theme parks may reach capacity and additional guests will not be admitted.
For the next two weekends, if your plans are flexible, consider visiting on a weekday when the attendance tends to be lighter. We encourage you to check our social channels, UniversalOrlando.com or call the Universal Orlando Resort Capacity Hotline at 407-817-8317 for real-time updates about the park capacity before your next visit.
Thank you for being part of our UOAP Family and we look forward to seeing you on your next visit.
Essentially, Universal is telling its passholders not to visit their parks on the weekends until after Halloween. This may be because of the number of people willing to take a weekend trip to see the two Halloween Horror Night houses that are open to park guests during the day. During the week, the houses are usually walk-ons but Universal has to use virtual lines, with return times hours later, on weekends. It also may be that Florida families that have annual passes are looking for things to do to get out of the house and many are looking to the theme parks for an escape. Personally, I wouldn’t visit any of the parks on the weekend.
Theme parks are still learning how to operate in this new paradigm that will last longer than we all hoped it would. Limited capacity and social distancing are going to be the new normal. As more people are willing to travel to Orlando, the parks will have to find a way to deal with the increased demand.
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 15,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary