The 6 Policies Universal is Doing Better Than Disney World Right Now

Since Disney World and Universal Orlando have reopened, we’ve seen many similarities in how the parks are operating during this time.

Hogsmeade

However, Universal Orlando has been operating with a few policies that have made a significant difference in how guests visit the parks. Although Disney World has certain guidelines in place, the parks might want to take a few of Universal’s policies into consideration as the parks and resorts continue their initial reopening!

Virtual Line

As Universal Orlando has welcomed guests back to all the attractions around the parks, one of the most useful tools in Universal has been the Virtual Line system. The rides have the capability to turn their Virtual Lines on and off, depending on the amount of guests wanting to visit at a time.

Virtual Queue

Disney World is operating with Stand By queues only with wait times that have fluctuated while we’ve been back. Although we’ve seen consistently short wait times for the peak of summer, attractions like Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway have reached up to 80 minute lines since Disney has opened again.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Universal’s Virtual Lines have helped disperse people throughout the parks with specific return windows. Although rides like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure or Escape from Gringotts usually have higher waits, the Virtual Line has drastically shortened the amount of time guests have to wait to board their ride vehicles.

Virtual Queue

Instead of the most popular attractions in Disney World sitting at long queues, the Virtual Line system would be a beneficial addition to the part that might shorten the waits further. Since FastPass and Single Rider options have also been suspended in the parks, the attractions’ lines are only operating with distancing measures in Standby.

Tower of Terror

Although Rise of the Resistance has a modified queue, there are only two times per day that guests are able to join them (and the Boarding Groups are taken up within minutes). More Virtual Queues with wait times could help shorten popular rides’ waits additionally and keep guests moving around the parks without crowding in one place.

Rise of the Resistance

These are the differences between a Virtual Queue and FastPass!

Hand Sanitizer Requirements

Although Disney World has hand sanitizer stations available before rides and throughout the parks, it’s a requirement that Universal Orlando’s Team Members give guests sanitizer before riding attractions. We want to note that the hand sanitizer doesn’t smell the greatest, but we appreciate Universal’s extensive requirements and ride procedures for guests to make sure their hands are clean.

Hagrid’s In Line

Disney provides the option to guests, but hand sanitizer isn’t a requirement before going on rides. Instead of just encouraging guests to use the sanitizer, an additional health and safety measure could be implemented like Universal’s where Cast Members must make sure that guests are given sanitizer before boarding their ride vehicles.

Hand Sanitizing Station

Since multiple attractions aren’t wiped down after every use in Disney World, this would help the rides stay cleaner as another health and safety measure.

Here are all the health and safety measures we’ve seen in Disney World!

Attraction Seating

Disney World is still making sure that guests are distanced from one another when they’re on attractions in the parks. However, different attractions may seat parties in every other row, while several rides have plastic barriers between guests instead.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Universal has been seating guests in every other row or every couple of rows so there is a distinct amount of space between people. While we’ve been back in the parks, we have never felt too close to people on the attractions in Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure.

Molly On Hagrid’s with a Mask On

However, there have been a few times we’ve had distancing concerns or felt claustrophobic in a reopened Disney World. During rides like Kilimanjaro Safaris, Disney has put barriers in between each row so it can seat parties invert row, but sometimes the barriers don’t seem super sufficient (even though we know that Disney is doing everything they can to keep people safe).

Flight of Passage

While it might add longer wait times to some of the attractions in Universal, we appreciate the distancing measures that are in place. While we’ve been back in Disney World, we think it could help for the parks to separate guests even more by adding more space between seating on rides.

Transformers the Ride

Take a look at the biggest surprises we experienced during Universal’s grand re-opening!

Face Masks on Characters

While we’ve been back to Disney World, we’ve been ECSTATIC to see the Character Cavalcades out and about. However, we have noticed that face characters are not required to wear masks when they are in the parks.

Queen Anna

Although they’re separated from other Cast Members and guests, it’s notable that face characters aren’t required to follow the mask mandate like everyone else in Disney World.

Character Cavalcade

Universal has been doing the exact opposite, where all the face characters are either wearing face masks or face shields. While they’re still distanced from guests on stages or behind roped off sections, the health and safety measure is still put in place for every Team Member in the parks.

Beetlejuice

Although we might not be used to seeing Disney Princesses in face masks, this is an unprecedented time that we haven’t experienced before. Face masks on some of kids’ favorite characters may even make them more willing to wear coverings themselves.

Princess Character Cavalcade

The character interactions in Universal haven’t been impacted greatly with the masks, so Disney may experience a similar situation by implementing coverings for all character performers.

Doc Brown

Check out ALL the characters we’ve seen in Universal since the re-opening!

Annual Passholder Perks

Disney World has been welcoming Annual Passholders back to the parks with Disney Park Passes available for 3 days at a time. However, since we’ve been back to Universal Orlando, we’ve noticed some pretty awesome Passholder perks recently!

Passholder Entrance

On top of the designated parking upgrades and park entrances, Passholders also have special goodies they can pick up! We were able to snag a refillable mug for free (even though it’s normally $16.99 to buy for the day), and we’ll be able to bring it back to the parks to use it for only $9.99 per day.

Refillable Cup

Passholders can also grab an Annual Passholder Pin and Magnet to take home and show off to all their friends and family! (Just look at how cute the E.T. Pin is!)

Annual Passholder Goodies

Take a look at the most magical snacks in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Hotel Temperature Checks

When Universal Orlando’s hotels opened, guests were required to go through a temperature check before entering the resorts. After going through the screening, people are given a wristband to wear so they don’t have to go through another round of temperature checks before entering the parks or resorts again.

Aventura Hotel

However, Disney Resorts haven’t been requiring temperature checks for guests checkin in at their resorts (even though they’re necessary to enter the parks). Although there are plenty of health and safety guidelines at the hotels, it was surprising for us to see that temperature screenings aren’t required, even though Disney said they would be at the resorts.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

Instead, guests are asked to operate on an honesty policy by checking through the health and safety guidelines before checking into their hotel. Instead, Universal will either turn guests away or have them quarantine themselves in their room if they have a temperature of 100.4 ° F or higher as a precaution for other people visiting.

Aventura Wristband

While temperature checks could always be implemented into the Disney Resorts at a later time, the additional health and safety measure could make traffic flow smoother at the resorts and transportation. If guests are given a wristband like Universal, they wouldn’t need to go through temperature checks multiple times throughout their time in Disney World during the day.

Temperature Screening

Read all about the reopening of the Universal Orlando hotels!

Although both Disney World and Universal Orlando are abiding by strict health and safety regulations, the situation has been continually evolving. While we have seen plenty of beneficial guidelines in place at both parks, these were a few policies we’ve seen at Universal we’d love to see Disney implement as well!

These are the biggest differences between Disney World and Universal Orlando’s grand re-openings!

Have you been back to Florida’s theme parks? Let us know in the comments below!

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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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5 Replies to “The 6 Policies Universal is Doing Better Than Disney World Right Now”

  1. I just want to add that it is NOT true that ALL Universal characters are wearing face masks. Marilyn doesn’t and I have a picture of Doc (BTTF) without a mask or shield.

  2. I’m so glad someone else noticed that Universal does seem to have the upper hand right now! I visited Universal in June and felt VERY safe. You never came within 6 ft of anyone except the workers and they were masked up & giving you sanitizer. I loved the virtual queues. We rode 6 rides between both parks in just a few hours, Hagrid’s included! I also have reservations to stay at the Hard Rock in September and they’re actually leaving rooms empty for 24-48 hours in between guest stays for cleaning. I also very much appreciated my free AP cup for cokes 🙂

    I’m headed to Disney for the first time this coming up weekend, but knowing there are no virtual queues and seeing all the pictures of people not adhering to the 6ft rule is adding some stress.

    1. Just left Disney and the only place the distancing was an issue was in Disney Springs. The parks and busses had no problems. Waiting in line also didn’t have any issues other than the over excited little child whose parents corrected quickly.

  3. I completely agree, especially with the hand sanitizer and characters in masks. The characters should (socially distanced or not) set a good example. There are plenty of cast members during load one could pass out sanitizer. One thing I thought Disney did great was space their dining tables, the are spacing the people at least 6 feet from each other, in GA most restaurants are setting the tables 6 feet apart which does not result in people being 6 feet apart.

    1. And I think just the opposite. No reason for face characters at either park be in masks while outdoors and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from anyone else.

      Same for worrying about being too close to someone on the other side of a piece of plexiglass with both parties wearing masks (especially in outdoor queues or rides).