What’s It Like At Universal Studios Orlando Now? My Recent Experience
For those wondering what it’s like at Universal Studios Orlando now, these are my experiences recently. My wife and I went to both of the Universal theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure), as well as the Universal CityWalk. These are our experiences with what it’s like at Universal Studios Orlando right now, so you can plan accordingly.
We mentioned previously that Universal Studios Orlando dropped its mask requirements at the end of May. There is now an honor system, where masks are not required for those who are vaccinated. Universal says it still expects unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors and expects everyone to maintain social distance.
During our visit the overwhelming majority of people were not wearing masks, inside or outside. Social distancing was basically impossible, since people are waiting in lines for rides, restaurants, etc. If you are concerned about maintaining distance from others, a theme park may not be the best place to visit right now.
Universal CityWalk Experience
I’ll start by covering what it’s like at Universal CityWalk now, because you have to pass through it to get to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. When arriving and going through security, there are announcements describing the process and all of the current rules and procedures in place at Universal Orlando Resort including mask and social distancing requirements.
While there are rules in place, we found sometimes maintaining distance is nearly impossible. For example employees at the security checkpoints are asking people to move forward to make room for others. The security process is as efficient as can be when getting people through the process. Think about airport security, then multiple all of the good and bad elements.
This is inside Voodoo Doughnuts in Universal CityWalk. Everything at the stores is via contactless payments only (no cash). There is still plexiglass between customers and employees at the cash register in some stores, but not all. All of the stores in the CityWalk area are open. The night clubs are still closed, though.
If you’re staying at a Universal-owned property, the transport to the parks is functioning. You’ll also enter in a different way and bypass the “day visitor” security point I mentioned above.
Universal Studios Experience
At Universal Studios Orlando now, things are functioning more or less normally. Parades are still off, to avoid crowds gathering.
Additionally, some shows are still not back and characters still greet guests from a distance. For example, any characters that come out for photo opportunities are behind a rope or some other obstacle, and you cannot approach them. They’ll position themselves behind you to make for the best picture possible, given the setup.
While we remarked “it doesn’t seem too packed” early in the day, our opinions totally changed when we got to the Harry Potter areas. The Diagon Alley area was the busiest area in the park. Big lines for everything in this area.
While not all shows are back, there is entertainment in the parks. As with the characters, you can’t get too close to the performers, but it adds some nice atmosphere. This Blues Brothers show had a barricade to keep the crowd at a distance from the performers. If you go to a show in a theater, you will be dismissed by rows after it ends.
Universal Islands of Adventure Experience
Our experience at Islands of Adventure in Orlando matches my description of what it’s like at Universal Studios Orlando right now. There are recommendations, but they are largely ignored by guests.
As with Universal Studios, some parts of the park at Islands of Adventure seemed to have space and weren’t overly packed while others were crowded. A highlight for us was Velocicoaster, which opened a few days ahead of schedule. The ride was popular, and the area around it did get busy with a huge line. Velocicoaster was AMAZING by the way! Wow.
Like the other park, the Harry Potter areas were the busiest. The Hogsmeade area was absolutely packed full of people. Just packed. See the pictures above.
One thing we really liked was how restaurants handled waiting for a table. We put our name on the list at the door and then got a text message to come back when our table was ready. This avoids groups hanging out at the door and also allowed us to watch a show while waiting.
Additionally, the “single rider” lines are functioning again. Plus, most rides & attractions are operating normally.
The Jimmy Fallon ride (Universal Studios) and Hagrid’s motorbike ride (Islands of Adventure) have virtual lines that you need to enter via the app. Those slots go FAST. By the time I clicked on “2 guests” and hit enter, the spots were all gone for the Hagrid ride. That’s despite being ready at the exact moment the spots opened. If you aren’t fast, you won’t get a spot for these.
While I appreciate the distancing with characters during meet & greets, I saw some sad children when they couldn’t hug the characters during a photo. I don’t envy explaining that to a child, so be prepared.
I wanted to share my recent experience on what it’s like at Universal Studios Orlando now. To be honest, I haven’t visited Universal Orlando since…the late 90s I think. My wife and I weren’t sure what to expect. We did assume, rightfully so, that “suggested rules” are basically like having no rules. If you aren’t comfortable with maskless people or being in close proximity to crowds, it may not be a great time to return to Universal Orlando Resort. With that said, we had a great time at Universal Orlando and really enjoyed many of the rides–especially their brand new Velocicoaster.