Here Are the Differences We’ve Seen at the Recently Reopened Theme Parks!

As theme parks start to reopen across Florida, there are plenty of similarities between how parks operate to keep everyone safe.

Universal Orlando

However, now that we’ve been to both Universal’s and SeaWorld’s grand r-openings, we noticed some huge differences between how both of the parks have managed their entertainment, attractions, and more.

After exploring both theme parks, these were our biggest take-aways from how the two recently reopened parks handled things!

Water Rides

Universal Orlando incorporated water elements and had its water attractions, like Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw, open when the parks welcomed guests back last week.

Jurassic Park River Adventure

However, SeaWorld Orlando cut down on a few of its water attractions in the parks. Journey to Atlantis, which is a log flume ride like Splash Mountain, was closed for the park’s reopening.

Journey to Atlantis

Plus, the splash pad at Sesame Street Land was shut down to make sure that children were able to safely distance themselves at all times. Although these attractions may make sense to halt if you’re looking to remove water interaction  altogether…

Sesame Street Land Splash Area

…Infinity Falls, the river rapids ride in SeaWorld that gets you SOAKED, was still open for guests to visit. Shows like the Orca Encounter also splashed guests in the “soak zone” areas.

SeaWorld’s Reopening Day

Number of Team Members

When we’ve been to Universal CityWalk, Universal Orlando, and Disney Springs, Team and Cast Members have been available everywhere to answer our questions, direct us to different locations, and even help us solve problems (like when we lost our mask).

Team Members Working Hard!!

On the other hand, Team Members throughout SeaWorld were noticeably sparse. It was difficult to track someone down to ask questions about attractions, health and safety guidelines, height requirements, or other features in the parks.

Height Check

When we did find them, the Team Members were helpful and kind. Since it was the first day of SeaWorld being back open, it would make sense for there to be an abundance of Team Members out to assist guests and enforce new guidelines.

Kraken

We also noticed that people were less likely to follow the set health and safety rules without Team Members around to remind them to distance and keep their masks on at all times.

Team Members at the Orca Encounter

Longer Wait Without a Virtual Line

While maybe a few attractions closed periodically at Universal Orlando, the rides were all open for the most part for guests to visit. On top of the reduced capacity, Universal also utilized the Virtual Line system to help disperse crowds even further and maintain social distancing.

Virtual Line at Universal Orlando

For their first day of reopening, SeaWorld had less of their rides available. On top of the closure of Journey to Atlantis, numerous Sesame Street Land locations (like the splash pad, playground, Cookie Monster Drop, and Big Bird’s Twirl ‘n’ Whirl), the Sea Carousel, the ride portions of the Wild Arctic and Empire of the Penguin, and others were all closed when we visited.

Wild Arctic

While it’s notable that several rides at SeaWorld also were down sporadically due to maintenance or weather-related issues, overall, we found that there were shorter wait times at Universal Orlando while the Virtual Lines were being implemented.

Hagrid’s Line

Here’s what the crowds looked like during the grand re-opening of SeaWorld Orlando!

Mobile Order

While Universal Orlando put a heavy focus on using their app for mobile order and the Virtual Line, SeaWorld did not implement either options through their mobile app.

Universal Mobile Order

Mobile order is available for Universal Orlando, at Disney Springs, and also Disney World. It provides a contactless form of paying for your food, with the ability to pick it up while maintaining physical distancing.

D-Luxe Burger Mobile Order

While SeaWorld does have their own app that you can download, at this time, they do not offer any of these options. For their reopening, we found that many of their food kiosks, and even some restaurants, were not open, so perhaps this will change in the future!

Read more about mobile order at Universal Orlando here!

Health and Safety Protocols

While SeaWorld and Universal Orlando did have some common health and safety procedures, such as required face coverings, spatial distancing markers, and increased sanitation, there were some differences.

SeaWorld

For rides, we saw rides being cleaned down frequently, often between riders. At Sesame Street Land in SeaWorld, we were told they were wiping rides down every three cycles.

Cleaning Hagrid’s Motorbikes

SeaWorld also offered hand sanitizer prior to rides at a hand sanitizing station, while Universal Orlando required riders to use hand sanitizer prior to boarding a ride vehicle.

Hagrid’s In Line

In Universal Orlando, we also noticed signs in the bathrooms, asking that guests maintain social distancing, and reminding them that restrooms will be “closed periodically for enchanted disinfecting practices.” We didn’t notice any new signage in the SeaWorld bathrooms.

CityWalk Bathrooms
CityWalk Bathroom

Take a look at 6 things we saw at Universal Orlando that we hope Disney World will implement!

Overall, while Universal Orlando and SeaWorld may have only reopened within a week of one another, their reopening days looked vastly different! While they did have a few commonalities (especially lower crowds!), the experiences overall were completely different. Now, we look towards Disney World’s reopening on July 11th to see what differences they will have in store!

These were the biggest surprises we encountered during our visit to Universal Orlando!

Do you have plans to go to visit any of the Orlando theme parks soon? Let us know in the comments below!

Rachel Franko has been going to Disney Parks since she was a baby, and her love of Disney has only grown into a SLIGHT obsession since! She's been writing for AllEars since 2019 and loves sharing the magic with all the readers. When she's not writing, you can catch her heading to Disney and Universal Studios with a heart full of dreams and a backpack full of themed ears!

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