A few days ago we reported LIVE from the Universal Orlando’s Annual Passholder preview.
Today, the park has officially reopened to the general public and we’re back to see how crowds look and to see if Universal has implemented new procedures and worked out a few of the kinks we saw at the Annual Passholder preview.
We will be updating this post LIVE throughout the day, so be sure to check back for more information.
We arrived at 7:15AM to a line of people waiting for the parking garages to open. Around 8:30AM, the garages opened and the line slowly began to move.
This process took about 45 minutes from start to finish.
But once we actually entered the garage, things went very smoothly. Universal is continuing to park cars in every other spot, so guests can distance themselves from others when exiting their vehicle. Once you exit your car, team members will likely fill the empty spots next to where you’ve parked.
As a reminder, everyone planning to visit Universal Orlando must undergo a temperature screening. If you have a temperature above 100.4F, you will not be granted access to Universal’s CityWalk area or their theme parks.
Although there were quite a few people, the temperature check process was very smooth and efficient.
Turnstiles and Ticketing
Universal is NOT using a reservation system like SeaWorld and Disney World will be upon reopening. Universal, is still limiting capacity. So let’s take a look at how they are implementing this process. According to a manager, the parks did not hit capacity during the Annual Passholder previews. But if the parks do fill up, team members will inform guests at the turnstiles of which park is full and it will then become a situation where more guests can enter as other guests leave.
8:30AM: The line for the turnstile was about 15-20 parties long. And team members ensured that each party was keeping the appropriate amount of distance from each other.
The line of people waiting to get tickets was much longer. While this looks like a lot of people, remember this line was spaced out and organized by team members as well.
Entering the Park
They did not scan our finger, but a team member did check an ID with our Annual Pass.
The park is supposed to open at 9AM EST but they started letting guests through around 8:45AM this morning.
So far crowds are looking relatively light this morning.
Like it was at the Passholder Preview, the Virtual Line was in use today. We actually noticed a bunch more attractions than were available when we were here the other day! The Virtual Line screen features a list of all of the rides with the virtual queue option. You’ll notice the greyed out times were the ones that weren’t available when we took our screenshot (before 9AM).
When you select an attraction, you tell the app your party size and what upcoming time works best for you.
Then, you’ll get your spot in the Virtual Line! The passes look like this.
For some attractions, you may have to wait in a physical queue when redeeming your Virtual Line pass. We’re looking at you Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure! This morning though, there wasn’t much of a queue built up with the low crowds.
We actually got to experience what happens when an attraction has downtime during your Virtual Line window! Hagrid’s was down for a short period this morning and we got this alert in our Universal app.
When this happens, you are automatically given a one-time use Express Pass that lets you skip the line at an attraction. Just keep in mind, you can’t use it for some popular attractions — like MOST of the Harry Potter rides.
The Attractions Experience
With such low crowds, a lot of the wait times were pretty low. The most congested part of the park when we entered was around The Incredible Hulk Coaster.
On the other hand, some rides were walk-ons like Doctor Doom’s Fearfall…
…and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Wow! Usually, Spidey makes for a pretty popular attraction!
Even those that did have waits were on the lower end of things. Skull Island: Reign of Kong had a 15-minute wait when we walked past.
Mobile Order is being encouraged at dining locations and most spots have physical distancing stickers in place outside of the restaurant. The Three Broomsticks, for instance, is set to handle a queue since it is one of the more popular restaurants.
Newly open today was the Hog’s Head with distancing markers set up.
Of course, we had to get a Butterbeer to celebrate the occasion! Oh, and a Gillywater to stay hydrated.
Refillable Drink Program
We were surprised to see that Universal is still doing their Refill Thru the Day program with Coca-Cola freestyle machines.
The only changes are that some machines are closed for physical distancing and there are now wipes available for your use. We also noted that team members were cleaning the machines regularly too.
Don’t forget, this post will be updated throughout the day!
Are you planning to visit Universal soon? Let us know in the comments below.