This past weekend marked the official 25th anniversary of Universal Studios Florida park, which welcomed its first guests on June 7th, 1990. As some may recall, Universal Studios Florida didn’t have the greatest opening day, and perhaps in a bizarre (and completely coincidental) tribute to its disastrous first day, Universal Studios Florida incurred several big issues on the same day of this milestone anniversary that left many guests disappointed and dissatisfied on what could (and should) have been a historic day to visit Universal Orlando Resort.
Though both Universal Studios Florida as well as Islands of Adventure have had their share of problems periodically (like any other theme park), this past weekend saw the park suffer through one of its worst operational days ever, with a number of technical issues making this an anniversary that pretty much everyone (including Universal Orlando Resort, we're sure) would probably like to forget.
1. Credit card machines go down
Around noon on June 7th 2015, credit card machines around Universal Orlando Resort went down in a massive technical outage. Guests were unable to pay for parking, food or souvenirs, leading to massive delays and issues both inside and around the resort.
One big side effect of this outage that happened almost immediately was traffic grinding to a halt around the resort, as guests who did not come to the parks with cash in hand for parking were stuck at the front gate while Team Members awaited further instruction. And even when things started moving again, guests reported massive waits to get to the parking structure as guest levels had already built up at the gate area, and Team Members who were trying to get guests into garages in a timely manner were quickly overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, things weren’t much better in the parks, as long lines for food and beverage areas brought guest activity to a standstill. In an interesting twist, the attractions and rides were the only things really working correctly, which made this past weekend a better experience than the original opening day, when most of the rides at the park famously went down. However, guests who did not come to the park with cash in hand (which is a surprisingly large amount of people) found themselves in a frustrating positions as repeat visits to food locations simply created more congestion as Team Members quickly tried to manually operate backup systems and get guests taken care of in the best way possible.
2. Ticket computers fail
In addition to the credit card machines going down, there were also problems at the Universal Orlando Resort ticket windows and turnstiles as well, as Universal’s ticketing machines completely failed around the same time as the credit card machines (in what was probably a linked development). Because of these computer failures, it was impossible for guests to purchase tickets, print pre-purchased tickets or use the normal turnstiles to enter the park.
The one bright spot here is that Universal Orlando Resort has a number of alternate park entrances that allowed guests to bypass the malfunctioning turnstiles. However, because these entrances were rather small (and required Team Members to check tickets and passes by hand), lines at the front of the park piled up quickly and were not eased until everything came back online near the end of the operating day.
3. Resort-wide Wi-Fi outage
Wi-Fi is something most of us probably take for granted. Walt Disney World has had resort-wide Wi-Fi service since 2012, and Universal Orlando Resort has also had in-park wireless access for several years as well. However, with all of the technical glitches that plagued the parks during their 25th anniversary, this was yet another issue that inconvenienced guests who had gotten used to taking advantage of this service.
The lack of Wi-Fi also probably made it hard for guests (especially those traveling from countries outside the US) to get updates about the technical issues around the parks, which likely contributed to the overall confusion experienced by guests last weekend.