I am so excited to finally have a trip report to do! Even though I do live in FL and can drive to the theme parks this is still a trip since we did stay in one of the resorts and spent 2 days playing in the parks.
I will admit I have put off visiting the parks mainly because for me it was just too hot to be wearing a mask. My birthday is in November and usually it actually gets a little cool here in FL around that time of year. This year being what it has been of course we are still in the upper 80s in November. I had already booked the hotel and it was my birthday so we were going anyway. At least it wasn't feeling like 100 like it had been all summer.
First I will start out saying I chose Universal Orlando for my birthday for a few reasons but mostly because it was easier than Disney. Universal is not requiring you to make an advance reservation for the parks and they still allow park hopping. I also chose Universal because I hadn't ridden Hagrids yet and knew that staying at a Universal resort would really help make riding that easier. Staying at a Universal resort meant I could get into Islands of Adventure an hour early which was key to avoiding a long line for Hagrids. We got up and were at the park entrance before opening. They did a good job of keeping everyone spaced out and in the right lines based on if they were resort guests with tickets or not. As soon as the park opened we walked directly to Hagrids along with pretty much everyone else but still never felt crowded or too close to anyone. The line sort of formed naturally at first with everyone going in the same direction anyway and then as we got closer they did start a queue but it was long enough snaking through other parts of the parks that you pretty much just kept walking and it helped avoid any long time standing. When we got to the lockers we did have to go in and do that before we could continue in the line since we did have a bag with us. It only took a minute to do and they were keeping everyone well spaced out in there as well. One thing I realized too late was that these lockers used your park ticket not your finger to open and I had already put my bag with my ticket in it and shut the locker before I realized that. No worries you can get a cast member to open for you when you get back. You just need to describe what is in the locker to prove it is yours.
You might be wondering what it is like to visit a theme park now. There are of course some changes due to Covid and I will admit I wouldn't mind if some of them stuck around. All in all I felt very safe during my stay and wouldn't hesitate to go back. I do highly recommend staying at an on-site resort for the added conveniences.
By now we have all gotten pretty used to the idea of social distance. There are markers placed all around the parks and hotels reminding people to keep a 6 ft distance.
It was nice to be in line and not feel squished in with 100 other people breathing down your neck so I wouldn't mind if that stuck around. Everyone was good about respecting social distance in lines and pretty much all around. Even better are those attractions where you would normally be packed into a pre-show room with what feels like a 1000 other guests, thanks to social distance that doesn't happen now. Those pre-show rooms now have boxes marked out on the floor where each party will stand to watch and then go on to enter the attraction. That also means if there are attractions where you would normally be seated with other parties that doesn't happen either. For example if you ride the Simposon's attraction you will have the car all to yourself. The drawback to this is that it can make wait times a lot longer with less people experiencing each attraction at a time. Again this was when being a resort guest with Express Pass included was a nice bonus. You can also purchase Express Pass if you are not a resort guest.
Yes masks are required to be worn and they are being strict enforcing the masks are worn correctly. I will just say it isn't the most comfortable thing but you do sort of get used to it after a few hours. I recommend bringing multiple masks and also testing out your masks before traveling to be sure you find it comfortable for long periods. There are places around the park designated as rest zones where you can take your mask off even if you are not eating or drinking. Speaking of eating and drinking you really are not encouraged to wander around eating and drinking wherever you want. They really do try to keep you in the eating areas to finish if you buy food. Depending on where you choose to get food some counter service locations might require you to sit at a table they assign to you for eating - so that might mean you cannot take it outside to find an outdoor table or walk with your food. I get that they don't want people using food as an excuse to walk around without a mask but making people stay inside isn't great either.
As a resort guest our temperature was taken as we arrived at the resort and we were given a colored band to wear that showed we were clear for the day and no more temperature checks needed. The color changed each day so you do need to have your temperature checked each day but being able to get that done at the resort was quick and easy.
There were plenty of places pointed out for hand washing and sanitizer. Plus before boarding any attraction you are required to get a squirt of santaizer. While I understand the idea that this way they are not having to wipe down each attraction between riders I wasn't a fan of always being slathered in sanitizer.
You will notice that there are places that didn't used to have plexiglass that now do. Again I get it for safety but on some attractions it takes away from the experience.
Crowds were not bad but probably more than I had expected. You notice more people mostly in the Harry Potter sections. We also popped over to Disney Springs for dinner one night and quickly realized that with all parks pretty much closed by 7 pm means a lot of people flood into Disney Springs. I would highly recommend avoiding Disney Springs after 7 pm.
I was so happy to get in some park time and see how things are being handled first hand. If you have any questions about my visit please let me know.
Universal Studios which always goes all out for the extremely popular Halloween Horror nights which is celebrating 30 years had to cancel this year's Horror Nights. Normally Halloween Horror nights require a separate ticket to get into the park on select nights for all the scary Halloween fun. Since they had to cancel Universal is trying out a smaller version of the event and are including it in regular park admission. From the Universal website -
There are two heart-pounding haunted houses in Universal Studios—Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives—so you can get your scream on. You can take your kids trick-or-treating in Islands of Adventure. Plus, you can all dress in costumes throughout the resort to get in the sinister spirit of the season.
This past weekend was the first test of this new version of Halloween Horror and the 2 houses reached capacity very quickly. Hopefully this means they will conture to offer it every weekend. There are also 2 other Halloween things to check out while in the parks - The Horror Make-up Show and the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store. Plus if you are not able to make it to Orlando this year you can still pick up some of the horrific items from the online tribute store.
If really scary isn't your thing or you have young kids then Sea World's Spooktacular might be more your speed. As in year's past this event is offered on weekends and included in your park admission. The park has made some adjustments but for the most part it will seem similar to last year. Over the summer Sea World added a Drive-in Movie Experience that was available most weekends and offered a flat rate per car to attend. They are extending this experience and now calling it Flicks and Frights The schedule features lots of classic scary movies along with some kid friendly ones too. From the Sea World website -
It’s the perfect season for a spooky movie under the stars at SeaWorld. Drive in for a nostalgic experience that starts with enjoying locally sourced food trucks and ends with watching a classic Halloween feature from the comfort and safety of your car.
Disney World cancelled all of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween parties this year and of the 3 main parks in Orlando they seem to be doing the least Halloween themed stuff. Disney is calling it Fall into Magic They are allowing all guests to dress in costumes thru 10/31 (normally only children are allowed to dress in costume to visit the park on a regular day). They are still going to have Fall decor, Halloween themed merchandise and seasonal treats along with some special entertainment and photo opportunities throughout the park. From the Disney website -
I would be happy to help you plan your Halloween theme park adventure! All 3 of Orlando's Theme Parks offer on site accommodations and are running some fall special offers right now. Please keep in mind all parks are limiting capacity and most require an advanced reservation.
*photo from last year that's why no mask
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