How to Navigate Crowds at Disney World and Universal

in Travel, Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

Disney Universal Capacity

Credit: Disney (left); Credit: @AspiringOne (right)

Theme park capacity has been a topic of conversation nearly every day this holiday season and has become a major issue for Guests looking to visit their favorite Disney World or Universal Orlando theme park. Today, December 30, for instance, Universal Orlando reached capacity at 7:30 AM this morning!

This is an unprecedented time for the theme park industry but it seems as though Guests are becoming more comfortable about going back to the parks as they continue to flock there despite most holiday festivities being canceled. And as the desire to go back to Disney and Universal has grown, capacity has remained at 35% that or normal capacity.

disney world guests
Credit: Disney

This means that there are several Guests who find themselves being turned away at the Universal gates or find themselves completely shut out of Disney’s Hollywood Studios for weeks as Disney’s Park Pass calendar shows no availability.

Again, this is unprecedented and never have we seen such a situation — Because of that, I, admittedly struggled to provide you with tips on how to handle this constantly evolving situation, however, I put together some of my best tips that can help you if you find yourself unable to attend your favorite Disney or Universal theme park as planned.

Wait Out The Holiday Season

Hogwarts Castle Christmas
Credit: @bioreconstruct on Twitter

While this may not be the most popular option, I feel that it is the easiest option you have at the moment. Most of the major influx of Guests at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando is due to Christmas break.

Once we pass New Year’s celebrations crowds will start to subside once again. In fact, Walt Disney World’s Park Pass calendar shows full availability for all four theme parks come January 4, 2021. On top of this, one kids are back in school and adults go back to work, days — especially weekdays — will more than likely offer more availability, and you will be less likely to find yourself being turned away.

Book a Night at a Resort Hotel

disney world reopening
Credit: Disney

As with any capacity issues, one of the best ways to ensure that you get into the parks on the days you want is by staying at a resort hotel. Disney has Park Pass reservations set aside specifically for Resort Hotel Guests, making it easier to grab one for the days you wish to visit.

Even if you can’t stay on property, finding a place to spend the night before you visit, that is close to your theme park of choice, shortens the travel time, which can be crucial when attempting to visit Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure that currently has a “first come, first served” capacity policy (unlike Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida does not have a Park Pass system in place.)

Take Advantage of Park Hopping at Disney World (Starting Jan. 1, 2021)

Park Hopper Option
Credit: Disney

2021 will see the return of Disney World’s Park Hopper option, allowing Guests to once again visit more than one park per day. Guests will still need a Park Pass to get into their first park of the day, but after 2 PM, they will be able to visit the other three parks pass-free (as long as capacity allows).

This means that Guests looking to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios — which has been by-far the Disney theme park to fill up the most — can do so even if they cannot get a Park Pass. However, it is important to keep in mind that Guests with a Park Pass to Disney’s Hollywood Studios are the only ones who will be able to join the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Additionally, as previously mentioned, park access will still be determined by the 35% limited capacity.

Learn more about Disney’s modified Park Hopping by clicking here.

Explore Other Areas of the Resort

three bridges coronado springs
Credit: Disney

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort than just its theme parks. If you find yourself at the Gates of Universal, why not stick around and enjoy the shopping and culinary options CityWalk has to offer? Not only is that a full day of exploring, but it is also a great way to wait out the crowds and possibly still find your way into one of the theme parks.

As for Disney, magic can be found all around the property. Guests can go Resort Hopping – -or, hey, why not Resort Bar Hopping? — spend the day at Disney Springs, or play a round of Fantasia Mini Golf, go horseback riding at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, or any of the other fun activities available.

Disney and Universal offer a plethora of experiences outside of the theme parks and offer the perfect opportunity for memorable days where even the most seasoned visitor can experience more firsts.

Read More: Your Guide to Recreation Activities Available at Walt Disney World

Plan a New Day to Visit the Parks

disney world castle christmas
Credit: Disney

At the end of the day, nothing solves theme park woes like planning an even better day at the parks. And there is no better time to do it than when your original plan fell through and you are determined to get in.

It is moments like these — getting turned away at the Universal Toll Booth or seeing zero availability on the Disney World Website — that innovation is born and you learn how to adapt for the challenges ahead. Remember that Cast Members or Team Members are always willing and able to answer any questions you might have so next time you try to visit a park it will be different. Maybe you end up booking a Park Pass two weeks out or maybe you decide to stay at a Universal Resort hotel the night before so you have quicker access to the parks.

We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and, unfortunately, we cannot go to the parks as casually as we used to. While one can still plan a “last-minute” trip to either mega-resort, a little extra planning is needed in order to secure your spot in the park.

Universal Studios Orlando
Credit: Universal Studios

But no matter how you salvage your day at Disney and Universal, please remember that visiting Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, or any other public place in the middle of the ongoing pandemic comes with its own risk. Disney World has several new health and safety measures in place for that reason. To read more about Disney World’s current operations and view the health warning provided on the WDW website, click here.  To read more about Universal’s current operations health warning, click here.

If you are thinking about making your own last-minute trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, our friends at Academy Travel are standing by ready to help! Click here to get started and to receive your free, no-obligation quote today!

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