Universal Orlando Resort has been open for a little over a week now, and now that we've had a few days to observe what theme parks in the age of COVID-19 look like. And while there are some things that played out over the past few days about how you'd expect, there were a few things that surprised us about the first few days' return to operations at Universal Orlando Resort.
1. Guest levels are low. Very low.
Though the June 3 soft reopen for annual passholders was very busy, when the park opened to the general public on June 5, guest levels were extremely low, with most attractions having a less than 30 minute wait for most of the day. And as the weekend wore on (and Universal celebrated its 30th anniversary), guest levels remained slight.
There could be several reasons for this phenomenon, including travel restrictions from some states, a general discomfort with being in public places, concern about restrictions, and potentially also the closure of Walt Disney World, which is keeping out of town vacationers from Central Florida for the time being.
While it will be interesting to see what happens to guest levels in the coming weeks and months, we do know that Universal will be leaning hard on its annual passholders with several limited time deals and discounts to get these loyal guests in the parks as much as possible in the near future.
2. Universal's Virtual Line system has a few kinks to work out
In an effort to promote social distancing inside the theme park, Universal Orlando Resort has rolled out a virtual queue system, which is now available at the following attractions:
- Fast & Furious – Supercharged
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Skull Island – Reign of Kong
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Despicable Me – Minion Mayhem
You can select any of these attractions from inside the Universal Orlando Resort app, and though the process should be as simple as selecting the attraction and then picking a return time, unfortunately there have been a lot of glitches with the system early on, with many guests reporting that a“Sorry there are no return times currently available” error has been popping up quite a lot, and securing virtual line return times has been unfortunately difficult.
The good news is that standby lines have been fairly short due to the low guest levels in the theme parks, but if attendance picks up later this summer, hopefully Universal will be able to get the kinks out of this new system so guests can take full advantage of the virtual line.