June 6 trip report

WondersOfLife

Blink, blink. Breathe, breathe. Day in, day out.
Original Poster
Drove 8 hours from upstate South Carolina for a 1 day universal trip with my fiancé and her brother. Are we crazy? Probably. But I don’t regret any of it. I’ll do a rundown of every attraction we did, and the experience!

We got to CityWalk about an hour before IOA opened. People were already lining up. The park opened about 15 minutes before 9:00 am. I got us all a 9:10 VQ for Forbidden Journey, and a 11:10 for Hagrid. Got em both at 8:50 am. Hagrid was immediately out for the rest of the day.

1). Forbidden Journey - We got to the ride at 9:00 am and they just let us walk on even though we were a bit early. Because it was so early, I assume that’s the reason it was a walk on. No water or mist effects were operating (no spitting spiders). A red light bulb from the dragon. The dementors were not working so that scene was awkward. But other than that, it was a good time! Side note, the workers did not wipe down vehicles for this ride, and many other rides. Had our own car.

2). After FJ we walked onto King Kong. Water effects were working on this one. Busses were every other row, and a whole row to your party.

3). Next we went over to ride Spider-Man. Big note: OUTSIDE of both Harry Potter lands, the parks were practically empty/very low crowds. Spider-Man didn’t have any water effects working. The floating box didn’t work, so when the green laser hit it, that was weird. However, the big fire explosion effect was working! We sat in the back of the car with another party in the front.

4). After Spider Man, we attempted to get on Hulk. The line was a little long, but moving fast. That is, until it started raining and they shut down the attraction. We waited around a bit but it wasn’t opening for a while. Oh well! The most was on for the tunnel and they loaded every other row.

5). We took a break in the old Sinbad show. As we were walking in, the fountain says “Sinbad isn’t open anymore! Go back from where you came!” We continued. It was incredibly sad to see that big beautiful set still completely in tact. But it was a nice break.

6). We made it all the way to the moving platform for Hagrid before it temporarily stopped to let another train onto the ride. We rode it. It was fantastic! Rain stung a little. When we got off and walked past the entrance, the line was stopped all the way at the entrance. And if you know how long that line is, then you know how insane it is. Glad we walked on! They loaded every row on the train, but didn’t combine 1 separate party person with another. No preshows.

7). Next we got a dining reservation at 12:30 for Mythos by walking up to the door. It was 11:40, so we caught the 12:00 show for Poseidon’s Fury. With social distancing, they had stickers and lines on the floors for about 12 different parties per show. I actually enjoyed the show a lot better with less people. The tour guide was extremely good at improvising and making social distancing puns. “It was nice of these Greek gods to put this convenient stickers down on the ground to show us where to stand... simple and effective!” Water tunnel was operating. Each party had to wait for the next party to walk through each room transition. Finale was as cheesy as ever and I loved It!

8). Mythos was good as always. Although the amount of food you get on the lamb chop plate in comparison to the price ($36) and other plates is super sad. Dining at every other table. Every seat and table was thoroughly wiped down.

9). Next we hit up Cat in the Hat. Jesus Christ has this ride not aged well. It is scary beyond reason. Also, I’m so sad it doesn’t spin anymore. The cartwheeling/walking Things were not operational. Each party gets their own vehicle.

10). Next we walked over to Universal to ride Jimmy Fallon. No water effects. Sit in every other row with one party on one side and the other party on the other (same row). Still the most conceited ride ever. The preshow was operating.

11). Next we went on Transformers. Again, it was a walk-on. Had our own vehicle.

11.5). I forgot to put Fast & Furious on the list because the ride is so forgettable. We had shakes at Mel’s and did this ride after as a time-filler. To our disappointment, both pre-shows were operating. We ended up taking much more time on this attraction than we should have.. got to our mummy VQ 1 minute before it expired.

12). Next up, we rode the mummy. Had a VQ. One party in the front, one party in the back. Fire effects were working. Good ride. Starting to get a little rough though.

13). We had a VQ for Gringotts next. Same party situation as mummy. There was a line that started right next to the downward spiral stairs in the bank. But the line moved very fast. Got on in about 25 minutes or so. no preshows.

14). Men in Black was next. Everything worked great (although they should really updated the “6 against 1” animatronic. No elevator scene.

15). Next we rode Simpsons. Good lord is it nauseating. But still all good fun. They ran both pre-shows.

16). Next up was ET Adventure. We tried to catch Animal Actors but the show started 20 minutes ago. No water effects were working on ET. Also, I love This attraction from the bottom of my heart.. but.. universal? Why can’t you ring out the money to update these animatronics? Holy CRAP was this ride embarrassing. All the AAs had less movement than the ones on cat in the hat. It was so sad to see a classic in such disrepair. E.T. Looked like he was having a stroke at the end. Also, there were no cards handed out. ET says “gubah frun” (goodbye friends) instead.

17). Next we headed over to Hogwarts express to catch the water rides at IOA for the end of the day. Sadly, a tornado warning dang on everyone’s phones and the train was delayed. We chilled in the queue for about a half hour then left.

18). We later shopped at the Universal Studios store. Shrek and Despicable Me were both operating in the heavy rain at the end of the day. Between the two, we chose despicable me. No 3D goggles. Both preshows were running (each party had their own designated sticker). One party per car. Only ever other car per row.

And that wraps things up! I’m sure it’ll take another incredibly huge scare to ever experience the parks that empty and convenient ever again. There was no line for bags or temperature checks at 8:50. CityWalk closed at 8 pm, parks closed at 7 pm.

DEFINITELY BRING EXTRA MASKS. If it rains, you’ll really want them. Also, we wore the blue nurse masks, and we had about 2 or 3 broke throughout the day. We were there from 8 am to 7 pm. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Masks were completely fine for us, but it was also cool and cloudy most of the day.

The only rides that required VQ were mummy, Hagrid, and Forbidden Journey. I think despicable Me as well, but it opened for everyone at the end of the day due to the storm. They DO enforce the masks. But you’ll definitely find a grumpy grandpa or a couple of little kids running around with em off every now and then. But the majority of guests followed all the rules and the entire place seemed very cleaned. Social distancing in the parking lot as well. Which was weird.

Bourne, Horror Makeup, and Blue Man group were not operating. Curious George and playgrounds were not operating. Barney and Animal Actors had showtimes.

Big problem I see with Disney reopening, looking back to our trip yesterday, is parents with kids. The kids don’t like to wear the masks and parents don’t care what their kids do. At least, every single parents at Universal didn’t. But it was very rare we actually saw a kid at Universal, so that’ll be interesting.
 

disneygeek90

Premium Member
Small note for the Virtual Queue. I picked up a Hagrids at 5:25 that began at 5:40. I wasn’t able to ride as there was a torrential downpour yesterday, but it seems that they are rolling out the tickets throughout the day rather than releasing all at once. There were several other time slots leading all the way up to 6:40.
 

WondersOfLife

Blink, blink. Breathe, breathe. Day in, day out.
Original Poster
Small note for the Virtual Queue. I picked up a Hagrids at 5:25 that began at 5:40. I wasn’t able to ride as there was a torrential downpour yesterday, but it seems that they are rolling out the tickets throughout the day rather than releasing all at once. There were several other time slots leading all the way up to 6:40.
I checked the app constantly for another one so we could ride again and we never saw another one available.
 

disneygeek90

Premium Member
I checked the app constantly for another one so we could ride again and we never saw another one available.
On the plus side, at 2:15 today I picked this up! 3rd day in a row at Universal and it’s as pleasant as ever. The mask complainers can stay home.
A302E3B4-36C7-4732-ABCC-D4CE9FCABAF6.png
 

joe80x86

Member
Probably a stupid question but was the park very crowded?

It sounds like it was not (I have no idea what 50% capacity there would actually look like).
 

lebeau

Well-Known Member
It was the lowest crowds I have ever seen in a theme park.

The lowest crowd I have ever seen in a theme park was the Fall of 2003.* It was off-season back when there was such a thing and close enough to 9/11 that Americans still weren't traveling much. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and it seemed like everyone there was British. This was our first time going to Disney since the invention of FastPass. We used it once just to see what all the fuss was about. Never needed it. For the entire week everything was a walk-on.

I had done no planning. I was a total noob. Didn't know what anything was. Didn't have any dining reservations. Didn't need them. Never waited for a table. We were at the Animation Tour and saw some blue paw prints on the floor. I decided to follow them because I figured they would lead to a ride. Nope. It was a Lilo and Stitch meet and greet. We had no idea who Lilo and Stitch were but we hung out with them anyway because they were so happy to see us. No one had been by to see them. I remember posing for a really awkward picture with some characters we didn't recognize.

*My first visit to the Magic Kingdom was a weekday in the Fall of 1977. I don't remember well enough to compare, but my dad tells me we practically had the park to ourselves. Pictures bear this out. There is no one else in them. My brother and I were picked to be in the Fife and Drum show they used to do in Liberty Square. May have been the only kids available. So that was probably the actual lowest attendance I have ever seen in an Orlando theme park but my memories are hazy.
 

Red Wench

Active Member
Very good report on your day day at Universal. You did get to do a lot as you said it was pretty empty. I agree with you about the masks with the kids and especially with the way Disney is with not being very confrontational with guest they will not say anything when someone is not wearing a mask kid or adult.
 

monykalyn

Well-Known Member
Was there Tuesday and still low crowds, walked on everything with very little or no wait at all, including Hagrids in am. Didn’t use VQ for anything. Was there at gate to IOA at 8:15-getting through security was a breeze, as was parking. Mask wasn’t as too bad til later in day when sun started coming out. Changed it several times and did help. TM’s were very good about reminding and calling out about mask compliance, even kids. The TM I saw who had to tell a family that the child needed his mask was super sweet and cheered the the lil guy when he had it on. The boy nor family complained at all.
Side note: UO passholder perks are great- dedicated security line, entrance; free Freestyle cup with activation free with mobile order. Also picked up my button and magnet :)
 

lebeau

Well-Known Member
Actually around 2008-2009 crowds were low on off weeks. My kids were young then and we could hit everything we wanted in the Magic kingdom by 4:00 and we didn't start at rope drop. Kids were to small for a couple of rides but we hit just about everything else no problem. If my memory is right 2010-2011 wasn't very busy either. Think it was about 2012 that the crowds started to climb very quickly.

My prediction is the theme parks in general will way down on attendance for a couple of years. The economy is taking a big hit, it will show in frivolous spending such as theme parks. For that matter the people who are in bad health most likely won't be going to crowd public places for a few years.

My first visit to Universal was in the Fall of 2008. Everything was a walk-on. This was pre-HP. The day we went, there was some kind of electrical problem which resulted in Terminator, The Simpsons and Men in Black being shut down for the entire day!

We did the MK for a Halloween party. It wasn't remotely crowded by today's standards but there were definitely lines. Before the party started I remember Peter Pan having an hour long wait. Once the party started and the day-guests were emptied out their weren't any lines for rides. The crowds were there for the parade, fireworks, etc but this was back when the special ticketed events weren't oversold.

We also went to Hollywood Studios that trip and Sea World which were not as crowded as they get today but definitely weren't empty. I remember a 40 minute wait to feed dolphins at Sea World. At Hollywood Studios, the Great Movie Ride was a walk-on in the afternoon and had an hour long wait later in the day. But that park had serious capacity issues at the time.

I forget when we started to notice the steep climb in crowds, but we definitely noticed them. Especially at Disney. Our last WDW trip was 2014. We visited Universal in 2015 (the first time with the family) and found the crowds much more manageable. Overall, just a more enjoyable experience for us. We haven't given any serious thought to returning to WDW since.
 

RC@77429

New Member
Drove 8 hours from upstate South Carolina for a 1 day universal trip with my fiancé and her brother. Are we crazy? Probably. But I don’t regret any of it. I’ll do a rundown of every attraction we did, and the experience!

We got to CityWalk about an hour before IOA opened. People were already lining up. The park opened about 15 minutes before 9:00 am. I got us all a 9:10 VQ for Forbidden Journey, and a 11:10 for Hagrid. Got em both at 8:50 am. Hagrid was immediately out for the rest of the day.

1). Forbidden Journey - We got to the ride at 9:00 am and they just let us walk on even though we were a bit early. Because it was so early, I assume that’s the reason it was a walk on. No water or mist effects were operating (no spitting spiders). A red light bulb from the dragon. The dementors were not working so that scene was awkward. But other than that, it was a good time! Side note, the workers did not wipe down vehicles for this ride, and many other rides. Had our own car.

2). After FJ we walked onto King Kong. Water effects were working on this one. Busses were every other row, and a whole row to your party.

3). Next we went over to ride Spider-Man. Big note: OUTSIDE of both Harry Potter lands, the parks were practically empty/very low crowds. Spider-Man didn’t have any water effects working. The floating box didn’t work, so when the green laser hit it, that was weird. However, the big fire explosion effect was working! We sat in the back of the car with another party in the front.

4). After Spider Man, we attempted to get on Hulk. The line was a little long, but moving fast. That is, until it started raining and they shut down the attraction. We waited around a bit but it wasn’t opening for a while. Oh well! The most was on for the tunnel and they loaded every other row.

5). We took a break in the old Sinbad show. As we were walking in, the fountain says “Sinbad isn’t open anymore! Go back from where you came!” We continued. It was incredibly sad to see that big beautiful set still completely in tact. But it was a nice break.

6). We made it all the way to the moving platform for Hagrid before it temporarily stopped to let another train onto the ride. We rode it. It was fantastic! Rain stung a little. When we got off and walked past the entrance, the line was stopped all the way at the entrance. And if you know how long that line is, then you know how insane it is. Glad we walked on! They loaded every row on the train, but didn’t combine 1 separate party person with another. No preshows.

7). Next we got a dining reservation at 12:30 for Mythos by walking up to the door. It was 11:40, so we caught the 12:00 show for Poseidon’s Fury. With social distancing, they had stickers and lines on the floors for about 12 different parties per show. I actually enjoyed the show a lot better with less people. The tour guide was extremely good at improvising and making social distancing puns. “It was nice of these Greek gods to put this convenient stickers down on the ground to show us where to stand... simple and effective!” Water tunnel was operating. Each party had to wait for the next party to walk through each room transition. Finale was as cheesy as ever and I loved It!

8). Mythos was good as always. Although the amount of food you get on the lamb chop plate in comparison to the price ($36) and other plates is super sad. Dining at every other table. Every seat and table was thoroughly wiped down.

9). Next we hit up Cat in the Hat. Jesus Christ has this ride not aged well. It is scary beyond reason. Also, I’m so sad it doesn’t spin anymore. The cartwheeling/walking Things were not operational. Each party gets their own vehicle.

10). Next we walked over to Universal to ride Jimmy Fallon. No water effects. Sit in every other row with one party on one side and the other party on the other (same row). Still the most conceited ride ever. The preshow was operating.

11). Next we went on Transformers. Again, it was a walk-on. Had our own vehicle.

11.5). I forgot to put Fast & Furious on the list because the ride is so forgettable. We had shakes at Mel’s and did this ride after as a time-filler. To our disappointment, both pre-shows were operating. We ended up taking much more time on this attraction than we should have.. got to our mummy VQ 1 minute before it expired.

12). Next up, we rode the mummy. Had a VQ. One party in the front, one party in the back. Fire effects were working. Good ride. Starting to get a little rough though.

13). We had a VQ for Gringotts next. Same party situation as mummy. There was a line that started right next to the downward spiral stairs in the bank. But the line moved very fast. Got on in about 25 minutes or so. no preshows.

14). Men in Black was next. Everything worked great (although they should really updated the “6 against 1” animatronic. No elevator scene.

15). Next we rode Simpsons. Good lord is it nauseating. But still all good fun. They ran both pre-shows.

16). Next up was ET Adventure. We tried to catch Animal Actors but the show started 20 minutes ago. No water effects were working on ET. Also, I love This attraction from the bottom of my heart.. but.. universal? Why can’t you ring out the money to update these animatronics? Holy CRAP was this ride embarrassing. All the AAs had less movement than the ones on cat in the hat. It was so sad to see a classic in such disrepair. E.T. Looked like he was having a stroke at the end. Also, there were no cards handed out. ET says “gubah frun” (goodbye friends) instead.

17). Next we headed over to Hogwarts express to catch the water rides at IOA for the end of the day. Sadly, a tornado warning dang on everyone’s phones and the train was delayed. We chilled in the queue for about a half hour then left.

18). We later shopped at the Universal Studios store. Shrek and Despicable Me were both operating in the heavy rain at the end of the day. Between the two, we chose despicable me. No 3D goggles. Both preshows were running (each party had their own designated sticker). One party per car. Only ever other car per row.

And that wraps things up! I’m sure it’ll take another incredibly huge scare to ever experience the parks that empty and convenient ever again. There was no line for bags or temperature checks at 8:50. CityWalk closed at 8 pm, parks closed at 7 pm.

DEFINITELY BRING EXTRA MASKS. If it rains, you’ll really want them. Also, we wore the blue nurse masks, and we had about 2 or 3 broke throughout the day. We were there from 8 am to 7 pm. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Masks were completely fine for us, but it was also cool and cloudy most of the day.

The only rides that required VQ were mummy, Hagrid, and Forbidden Journey. I think despicable Me as well, but it opened for everyone at the end of the day due to the storm. They DO enforce the masks. But you’ll definitely find a grumpy grandpa or a couple of little kids running around with em off every now and then. But the majority of guests followed all the rules and the entire place seemed very cleaned. Social distancing in the parking lot as well. Which was weird.

Bourne, Horror Makeup, and Blue Man group were not operating. Curious George and playgrounds were not operating. Barney and Animal Actors had showtimes.

Big problem I see with Disney reopening, looking back to our trip yesterday, is parents with kids. The kids don’t like to wear the masks and parents don’t care what their kids do. At least, every single parents at Universal didn’t. But it was very rare we actually saw a kid at Universal, so that’ll be interesting.
Question: so no need to make reservation? Just buy ticket online and show up? We are planning to go in August 1st week.
 

WondersOfLife

Blink, blink. Breathe, breathe. Day in, day out.
Original Poster
Question: so no need to make reservation? Just buy ticket online and show up? We are planning to go in August 1st week.
We had no reservations and we stayed at an Airbnb... So, no. Not for us.

If they ever do start reaching a capacity limit, I'd definitely recommend lining up for rope drop an hour early. But they've been very empty (except for the water park & harry potter, I guess)
 

lebeau

Well-Known Member
Never did a special event. Even back then Peter Pan was busy, I can't remember that ride without a line. Dumbo always had a line as well, not a big one but never a walk on. Those two rides don't have much capacity so it makes sense.

All I can remember in HS was when Toy Story opened up and that always had a big line.

At AK the Lion King would get full and the Safari attraction would get a decent line, other then that I don't remember waiting for much of anything.

I have gotten AP's for Universal for the last couple of years but I did show up at Disney for Pandora, I think that's in excellent ride. AK in general has become a day park if you have never been there and want to look at the animal displays. Hit Star Wars this spring along with staying in a chair lift hotel. That was worth the money, the Gondolas were fast and worked well from what I saw. Too bad they don't go to MK.

At the risk of hi-jacking this thread with off-topic Disney capacity discussions... ;)

Yeah, capacity was an issue at Peter Pan and Dumbo. Dumbo could be hellish and the line was out in the sun so it could be brutal. Pre-New FL, my advice to people with young kids was always "Dumbo first" because it would have an hour-long wait in the morning. And you did not want to deal with it in the afternoon! Neither attraction is worth a long wait.

HS used to have such horrible capacity issues. Not sure if that's still the case or not. But when TSM opened, it was the second attraction without a height requirement and the other one (The Great Movie Ride) could scare the crud out of little kids with aliens, mummies and witches. So it was no surprise when the line for TSM was ridiculous. What I did find surprising was how long it took for Disney to rectify that situation. But Disney was not building out the parks much at the time.

DAK had a similar issue with not enough rides. But it never felt as bad as MGM/DHS at its worst. Maybe because it didn't have a ride like TSM which was more popular than anything else. You had Expedition Everest drawing crowds to one side of the park and Kilimanjaro Safaris drawing them to the other. The park is more filled out now but obviously Flight of Passage has become the park's most popular ride.

Every now and then, I am tempted to check out some of the newer attractions at Disney. Pandora and Galaxy's Edge are obviously the big draws. But I quickly remember why we stopped going. My wife hates the place. At Universal, we can walk everywhere. If we use transportation, it's quick, efficient and relaxing. We get EP at the deluxe hotels so there's no lines, no plans and no reservations. By comparison, Disney just stresses her out. She's miserable which pretty much ruins it for everyone else.
 

TJ Vazquez

Premium Member
In the Parks
No
At the risk of hi-jacking this thread with off-topic Disney capacity discussions... ;)

Yeah, capacity was an issue at Peter Pan and Dumbo. Dumbo could be hellish and the line was out in the sun so it could be brutal. Pre-New FL, my advice to people with young kids was always "Dumbo first" because it would have an hour-long wait in the morning. And you did not want to deal with it in the afternoon! Neither attraction is worth a long wait.

HS used to have such horrible capacity issues. Not sure if that's still the case or not. But when TSM opened, it was the second attraction without a height requirement and the other one (The Great Movie Ride) could scare the crud out of little kids with aliens, mummies and witches. So it was no surprise when the line for TSM was ridiculous. What I did find surprising was how long it took for Disney to rectify that situation. But Disney was not building out the parks much at the time.

DAK had a similar issue with not enough rides. But it never felt as bad as MGM/DHS at its worst. Maybe because it didn't have a ride like TSM which was more popular than anything else. You had Expedition Everest drawing crowds to one side of the park and Kilimanjaro Safaris drawing them to the other. The park is more filled out now but obviously Flight of Passage has become the park's most popular ride.

Every now and then, I am tempted to check out some of the newer attractions at Disney. Pandora and Galaxy's Edge are obviously the big draws. But I quickly remember why we stopped going. My wife hates the place. At Universal, we can walk everywhere. If we use transportation, it's quick, efficient and relaxing. We get EP at the deluxe hotels so there's no lines, no plans and no reservations. By comparison, Disney just stresses her out. She's miserable which pretty much ruins it for everyone else.
She might have too much pull in the family :joyfull:
 

WondersOfLife

Blink, blink. Breathe, breathe. Day in, day out.
Original Poster
Starting in 2008 we use to use the 10 ticket packages with non expiring tickets which worked great for us since we can drive to Orlando, 4 1/2 hours away from where we live. Over the next 6 years we went through 3 10 packs so we have been in Disney World for a total of 30 days, usually 3 days at a time. Roughly twice a year. Actually we may have gone through 40 tickets a piece don't really remember? Sometime not long after Potter opened we went to Universal for 2 days. Pretty much since then we have had Universal AP's.

Universal is much more relaxing. Our last trip to Disney was a little tense, wife kept worrying about when and where to get food which got on my nerves. It was never ended scheduling of this and that of things that should be fairly unimportant.

Comes down to this. Travel can be exciting in not good ways and usually involves hard schedules. Once you reach your distination your days should not be filled with worry that if you miss this or it rains or it whatever happens your entire day can get screwed up. That is not a vacation to me.
Hmm. I didn’t have a problem with the system in place before COVID.
 
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