Universal is DANGEROUS but Art Smith's is AWESOME

macefamily

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We took a long weekend this past week to visit my daughter in FL and visit Universal and Animal Kingdom. We started our day on Saturday with brunch at Art Smiths before our Universal visit. I was a bit uncomfortable at the restaurant because there really wasn't much spacing. However, I did notice that the staff thoroughly cleaned down tables, chairs, bottles, and salt/pepper shakers. Mr. Jimmy, the floor manager, stopped by our table and struck up a nice conversation. When we told him we never ate dinner there he said he would send over some mac and cheese for us to try with brunch. It was incredible. It was tough to finish with the super size portions we already ordered, but we managed. As we were finishing up, my daughter decided to check wait times at Universal. All I heard her say was "Wow." 55 minutes, 75 minutes, 120 minutes...it was crazy in both parks ! We thought about trying to get into a Disney park, but decided against it. The lots were jammed. The lines flowing into Universal were continuous. We tried to move around and stay six feet from people, but it was near impossible. No matter how uncomfortable it was in 95 degree weather, we kept our masks on. But many were not. We saw one "Karen" arguing with security at the gate as she had no mask and apparently didn't want to wear one. Several rides were fully booked to the end of the day by 1:00 PM. We rode MIB & ET; that's it. Obviously Universal was selling the HELL out of Express. They were trying to milk every dollar out of the crowd. I felt unsafe. We got out of there in a few hours, and I vowed that we would not be returning until things get better. They are definitely not handling this pandemic on the level that Disney is. I'm not partial to either park. We have season passes to both, but this situation definitely sets them apart on two ends of the spectrum.
 

JT3000

Well-Known Member
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Where are these crowds coming from? The parks had been empty since reopening. 🤔
 

Tom Morrow

Well-Known Member
Can confirm, I made the mistake of going this past Sunday and it was kind of a nightmare. It felt like a regular "average" crowd level day. Every queue was beyond full and spilling out into the walkways. Express queues also full due to AP Premium holders getting Express after 2 now. 75 minute waits common because of this. 45 minute waits for Express. 20 minute waits for lockers. Some rides are even using the queues of closed attractions as overflow queue space.

It's shockingly different to how comfortable and controlled the parks were in June and July.

I do not believe they are enforcing any sort of attendance cap. I will not be returning on a Saturday or Sunday for the foreseeable future.
 

Tom Morrow

Well-Known Member
I’m at Disney today and, granted, it’s a weekday, but the lack of Fastpass makes a HUGE difference. 10-15 minutes for every ride. I wish Universal would temporarily end Express pass because it throws everything off. They won’t though because it makes them lots of money.
 

opshannon

Member
The real issue at Universal for us last Saturday was the virtual lines. We got there just prior to park opening. We were unable to get any reservations for any attraction that had virtual lines. Some became available throughout the day, but when I tried to reserve 4, I was rejected every time. So we could only do standby lines and the waits for those were well over an hour. We only stayed for 4 hours. We drove home. It was a miserable theme park experience. I can only go on weekends because of work. So it is conceivable that I could have the FL resident pass that goes through December 24, go on multiple weekends between then and now, and never have an opportunity to ride Hagrid's. From what I've read online, you have little chance of getting a reservation for that ride with the virtual line when it's as crowded as it has been on weekends. I'm not sure how denying visitors the opportunity to wait standby for an attraction, no matter how long, improves the park experience for guests.
 

Tom Morrow

Well-Known Member
I believe a lot of these woes would be eliminated with Express pass gone. Before: a party of 2 with Express takes up 1/16th of a train on Hulk. Now: A party of 2 with Express takes up 1/4th of it.

At the very least the AP Premium Express pass should be eliminated if it means creating 45 minute Express queues.
 

Archie123

Well-Known Member
We took a long weekend this past week to visit my daughter in FL and visit Universal and Animal Kingdom. We started our day on Saturday with brunch at Art Smiths before our Universal visit. I was a bit uncomfortable at the restaurant because there really wasn't much spacing. However, I did notice that the staff thoroughly cleaned down tables, chairs, bottles, and salt/pepper shakers. Mr. Jimmy, the floor manager, stopped by our table and struck up a nice conversation. When we told him we never ate dinner there he said he would send over some mac and cheese for us to try with brunch. It was incredible. It was tough to finish with the super size portions we already ordered, but we managed. As we were finishing up, my daughter decided to check wait times at Universal. All I heard her say was "Wow." 55 minutes, 75 minutes, 120 minutes...it was crazy in both parks ! We thought about trying to get into a Disney park, but decided against it. The lots were jammed. The lines flowing into Universal were continuous. We tried to move around and stay six feet from people, but it was near impossible. No matter how uncomfortable it was in 95 degree weather, we kept our masks on. But many were not. We saw one "Karen" arguing with security at the gate as she had no mask and apparently didn't want to wear one. Several rides were fully booked to the end of the day by 1:00 PM. We rode MIB & ET; that's it. Obviously Universal was selling the HELL out of Express. They were trying to milk every dollar out of the crowd. I felt unsafe. We got out of there in a few hours, and I vowed that we would not be returning until things get better. They are definitely not handling this pandemic on the level that Disney is. I'm not partial to either park. We have season passes to both, but this situation definitely sets them apart on two ends of the spectrum.

Sad and gross at the same time.
 

Disneyhead'71

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately of fortunately, depending on your point of view, I think the crowded Sat./Sun. will die down after Labor Day.

If it is at all possible, a weekday visit now is amazing. Hagrid's ran a 20-25 mins. Stand-by all day with it getting down to 5 mins. a couple of times this afternoon.
 

JoeCamel

Well-Known Member
The real issue at Universal for us last Saturday was the virtual lines. We got there just prior to park opening. We were unable to get any reservations for any attraction that had virtual lines. Some became available throughout the day, but when I tried to reserve 4, I was rejected every time. So we could only do standby lines and the waits for those were well over an hour. We only stayed for 4 hours. We drove home. It was a miserable theme park experience. I can only go on weekends because of work. So it is conceivable that I could have the FL resident pass that goes through December 24, go on multiple weekends between then and now, and never have an opportunity to ride Hagrid's. From what I've read online, you have little chance of getting a reservation for that ride with the virtual line when it's as crowded as it has been on weekends. I'm not sure how denying visitors the opportunity to wait standby for an attraction, no matter how long, improves the park experience for guests.
I'm not sure if it is impossible to ride Hagrid's, if the ride is operating someone is riding so how did they get there? It has decent capacity
 

opshannon

Member
I'm not sure if it is impossible to ride Hagrid's, if the ride is operating someone is riding so how did they get there? It has decent capacity
I understand your point, I'm just saying that when I arrived before park opening the reservations were used up. And I've seen others who have said that they couldn't get one either on busy weekends. Obviously someone is getting them, but to me it is unclear how they are and it is unclear how I could. To me that's a flawed system. At least with FP you know when and how to do it. With Universal's system you login to the app when you arrive on property and see if any are there. If not keep refreshing all day in case they release some. And in my case last weekend, when they did (not for Hagrids, I never saw them release any more) I couldn't get reservations for four.

I'm obviously irritated about it, but I'm open to hearing how it makes the guest experience better than allowing standby if someone can explain it to me.
 

thelookingglass

Active Member
Universal this weekend was a total nightmare. I don't believe they are enforcing any sort of attendance cap whatsoever as it was literally an average day. I have not been to Covid-Disney yet on a weekend, but I can't imagine it being as bad as this was. I also agree that Express pass needs to go, or removed from the hotel/AP premium passes. Disney was smart to eliminate Fastpass for the time being, and as a result the lines are short and fast moving. Disney has literally not been more enjoyable since the 90's. Universal, on the other hand, feels the same as before, if not worse because even if you have Express, you're waiting 30+ minutes.

Also, with every ride being 50+ minutes and many topping 100 minutes, it does not appear that they needed to close all the attractions that they did, as the demand is definitely there.
 
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JoeCamel

Well-Known Member
Universal this weekend was a total nightmare. I don't believe they are enforcing any sort of attendance cap whatsoever as it was literally an average day. I have not been to Covid-Disney yet on a weekend, but I can't imagine it being as bad as this was. I also agree that Express pass needs to go, or removed from the hotel/AP premium passes. Disney was smart to eliminate Fastpass for the time being, and as a result the lines are short and fast moving. Disney has literally not been more enjoyable since the 90's. Universal, on the other hand, feels the same as before, if not worse because even if you have Express, you're waiting 30+ minutes.

Also, with every ride being 50+ minutes and many topping 100 minutes, it does not appear that they needed to close all the attractions that they did, as the demand is definitely there.
OK, you say Uni on weekend bad but Disney during the week is better ?? -- OK
 

thelookingglass

Active Member
OK, you say Uni on weekend bad but Disney during the week is better ?? -- OK
I'm saying I can't imagine Disney being as bad as Universal at any moment of the week because Disney is actually enforcing an attendance cap. Universal has decided to make it a free-for-all, making it a nightmare on weekends.
 

thelookingglass

Active Member
And you know this how? Have you been to both on the weekends or are you "Imagining" what it is like?
What part of "Disney is being extremely restrictive of how many people enter their parks, and Universal is not enforcing any sort of limitations whatsoever" are you having trouble with? Everyone has the ability to check the wait times at both parks via their apps whether they are there or not. Where are the 100+ minute waits at Disney? Multiple attractions at UOR were over 100 minutes this weekend.
 

lebeau

Well-Known Member
What part of "Disney is being extremely restrictive of how many people enter their parks, and Universal is not enforcing any sort of limitations whatsoever" are you having trouble with? Everyone has the ability to check the wait times at both parks via their apps whether they are there or not. Where are the 100+ minute waits at Disney? Multiple attractions at UOR were over 100 minutes this weekend.

So, what you're saying is your opinion is based purely on speculation? Got it.

You can make valid points about Universal on the weekend without bringing up an invalid comparison to Disney. You'll have more credibility that way.
 

Tom Morrow

Well-Known Member
I've been to both on a weekend and Universal did seem notably worse in terms of crowds, wait times, and ability to social distance. It was significant enough on my last visit that I will not be returning to UOR on a weekend for quite some time, whereas while I'd still prefer to avoid Disney on weekends, I would consider going.

They're both about the same on weekdays. Though Epcot and DAK are notably the most empty parks. I haven't been to SeaWorld since re-opening so I can't compare them.
 

Jimdalva

Active Member
We just visited Universal on Wednesday, Sept. 2, we are retired , so we can do that, and what a difference a weekday makes. We intentionally arrived at 10:30, well after opening. Parking, temp. check, and entering thru the turnstiles was a breeze.

Hagrids posted 45 min. , but it was only 25. Every other attraction was a walk on.

By the way, Rock and Roller Coaster use to be my favorite roller coaster, but Hagrids is my new #1. Also The Bourn Spectacular is just that, Spectacular!

A little lite rain midday cooled the day. We chose to end our day with diner at the NBC Grill & Brew, But midweek they only offer drinks and lite bar food, so we dined at Margaritaville.

Crowds were very lite and the streets were rather empty . There are many hand sanitizer stations and signs promoting their use. Also at every ride they squirt more into your hand just as you board. Mask wearing was 100%.

All in all it was a great day. And we felt Very safe.

PS, My 'Steps' app clocked us at 7.7 miles
 
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