Our staff writer Melissa went to Universal Orlando last night, here’s her experience!
Tonight I ventured into Universal Orlando for their early admission annual passholder preview. It was a rainy day and there were not that many people upon my arrival at 3:30 p.m. I had an hour and a half to explore the park with minimal crowds. As a devout Disney park fan, Universal is considered a home away from home for me. I purchased passes for my husband for Christmas last year not knowing that we would only be able to go a couple of times before Covid made the world stop turning. But because the park had given us the opportunity to go, I shot over the 20 miles from my work to Universal to see how they were handling and operating park in a pandemic situation.
The number one thing I took away from today was how happy each and every single one of the Universal employees were to see all of the guests walking into the park again. As I entered the park every Universal employee said these simple words, “Welcome home”.
The park was alive with food, drinks and characters, with all of the rides carefully marked for social distancing, ready for guests to board.
One of my favorite shows at Disney is Mickey’s PhilharMagic. If you aren’t aware, this is a theater setting with 3D glasses in an auditorium generally with packed seats full of happy guests. The ride I experienced at Universal was very similar to this. I rode the Jimmy Fallon ride today and loved it. Walking into the queue there were very few people. In the line, you were socially distanced from the people with reservations or what Disney would call a fast pass and the standby line. The spacing made it so when you were in the queue, even though those lines are side by side, you were diagonal six feet away from each other and a proper six feet social distancing from other parties.
Once we got to the end to actually board the small auditorium size ride, the Universal employee told me as a party of one to make sure when I sat down there were three seats between myself and the closest party in my row. On either side of our row, seats were completely vacant keeping separation from us and the guests in front and behind of us. If this is the same approach Disney will be taking, I anticipate if crowds show up in a decent size there may be longer waits for shows once things resume.
As I went in as a pass holder for both parks, I am certain Disney is keeping an eye on how social distancing for Universal parks go. Saturday, my husband and I will venture to Universal Orlando for the opening day where the general public is allowed to enter as well. We can see just how high volume the crowds will be or not at that time. Stay tuned and stay safe!