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Orlando theme parks reach capacity in busy holiday season

Universal Orlando has reached capacity several times this week and all Disney World park passes are sold out for New Year’s Eve.
Universal Orlando has declared that its parks have reached maximum capacity every day for the last three days, including an announcement just 10 minutes after opening Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.
Universal Orlando has declared that its parks have reached maximum capacity every day for the last three days, including an announcement just 10 minutes after opening Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Dec. 30, 2020

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day are typically the busiest of the year at Florida’s theme parks, and the threat of a pandemic doesn’t seem to have changed that trend.

Universal Orlando has declared that its parks have reached maximum capacity every day for the last three days, including an announcement just 10 minutes after opening Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. And at Walt Disney World, park passes on New Year’s Eve are completely filled up for all four theme parks.

Both Disney World and Universal Orlando implemented limited capacity at their parks since reopening this summer. However, while Disney World has used the park pass reservation system for entry into the parks. Universal has a first-come, first-served policy that allows all ticketed guests into the parks until reaching capacity.

Universal posted on its official Twitter account that it expected to reopen later in the afternoon on Wednesday and set up a capacity hotline at 407-817-8317.

“Even with limited capacity, visitors agree that the parks feel crowded. The wait times certainly do not feel limited,” the theme park blog All Ears posted.

The wait times were typically two hours or more for all theme park attractions, according to the parks’ official sites. Although the parks have reopened, many entertainment, dining and shopping options remain closed. This means the rides are the main draw, and they must bear the brunt of the crowds.

The parks have not disclosed what the capacity number is, but some guests this week said it felt crowded.

“I was there yesterday and left about an hour in. No way that park is at reduced capacity,” Maria Hatfield of Orlando posted on Twitter about Universal. “I was here on the exact same date two years ago and it was not nearly as bad as yesterday.”

The queues for rides reached a point where guests couldn’t even get in line because of the need to keep guests six feet apart.

“Lines that are at capacity may reopen later in the day provided that the queue can be emptied prior to the park’s closing,” Universal reported on its social media sites.

“By the time we walked up to Islands of Adventure, which is supposed to open at 8 a.m. We walked up at about 8:15 or 8:20 and they were already at capacity and we could not get in,” Lisa Nathan, who was visiting family from Michigan, told Orlando’s Fox 35. “As far as you could see, there were people in a standby line. It was unbelievable.”