Disney crowds picking up, Universal… not so much

Less than a week after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state entered Phase 3 of reopening with no restrictions, visitors to Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Orlando are on the rise.
 
Mainstreet Daily News visited the Magic Kingdom and Universal theme parks on the same day that Magic Kingdom celebrated the anniversary of opening on Oct. 1st, 1971.
 
Here’s our take on weekday crowds and wait times and current operating procedures at both attractions. 
 
Fall is definitely in the air with temperature dipping into the 50s and those famous Mickey Mouse pumpkin wreaths lining the streets and decorating light poles throughout Magic Kingdom.
 
We arrived at 10 a.m. to avoid the crowds on the boats and monorail transportation to the park.
 
For a Thursday, we found the Magic Kingdom to be the most crowded since they reopened two months ago. The park generally draws younger kids and that means lots of strollers, but also low wait times on the faster rides such as Space Mountain which was a 20 minute or less wait throughout the day. 
 
Some attractions are still running in a modified format such as the haunted mansion where you go directly to the ride and skip the show in the shrinking library beforehand.
 
There is very little ability to distance through some of the crowded areas near Frontierland. You know the Magic Kingdom is crowded with younger guests when It’s A Small World has wait times of more than an hour. Two weeks ago, guests could walk right onto the famous ride. The Magic Kingdom is still operating at limited capacity and shortened hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday through Sunday.
 
Heading over to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure we found empty parking lots and very low crowds at 1 p.m. on a Thursday.
 
Universal requires each guest who enters an attraction to receive a dab of hand sanitizer before they enter an attraction and an employee at each attraction stands at the entrance to administer it.
 
Diagon Alley, which is usually bustling with Harry Potter fans was wide open, but the longest wait in both parks is still Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
 
Other wait times at both Universal attractions were between 5 and 30 minutes.
 
Universal Studios is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and daily and Islands of Adventure is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend hours expand to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
 
At the entrance of the Universal attractions, guests are now required to do a finger scan which was lifted when the park reopened after the shutdown due to the pandemic. Be prepared to wash your hands or use sanitizer after you enter.

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