How Have the Wait Times Been at Universal Compared to Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have both been open for several weeks now, and we’ve been keeping an eye on how things are going.

Universal Orlando

With limited capacities, both resorts have seen significantly lower wait times in the theme parks than they did prior to the closures. But how do they compare to one another? Do you wait less at Disney World or Universal?

Let’s take a look at how the wait times compare in Universal Orlando and Disney World!

A Look at Wait Times

First, let’s take a look at a direct comparison between wait times in Disney World and Universal Orlando. To do this, we’re taking a look at wait times at the same time on the same day.

Animal Kingdom has had the lowest wait times of the Disney World parks with even Avatar Flight of Passage coming in at just 15 minutes in the mid-afternoon.

Animal Kingdom Wait Times

Hollywood Studios has had higher spikes with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway sitting at 45 minutes and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror sitting at 55 minutes.

Hollywood Studios Wait Times

In Magic Kingdom, the most popular rides came in at 30 minutes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and 45 minutes for Splash Mountain. Similar numbers were found in EPCOT.

Magic Kingdom Wait Times

Let’s switch over to Universal Orlando. In Universal Studios, the most popular rides were sitting at a 60-minute wait with Fast & Furious – Supercharged and the Hogwarts Express.

Universal Studios Wait Times

And in Islands of Adventure, most of the popular rides were showing around a 30-minute wait with Skull Island: Reign of Kong spiking to 60 minutes. Overall, these wait times were pretty similar between Disney World and Universal Orlando.

Islands of Adventure Wait Times

But we didn’t only monitor wait times at this one time, so what other conclusions can we draw from the wait times we’ve seen over the past weeks?

Popular Attractions

During our wait time check-ins, we paid special attention to the most popular attraction in each park. Since these lines tend to be the longest, it helps us to get an idea of whether lines are more limited at Disney or Universal.

Tower of Terror

Disney World is seeing wait times max at around an hour for popular attractions — without using Virtual Queues. Occasionally, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will slingshot above that, but it’s not often.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

The only attraction that is using a Virtual Queue in Disney World is Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This attraction has been seeing multi-hour waits and the queue is so high-demand that many guests have been unable to get a place in line.

Rise of the Resistance

On the other hand, Universal is using a Virtual Queue system for its most popular attraction. We’ve seen waits for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and The Hulk Coaster spike near an hour, but they are still much, much easier to ride than Rise of the Resistance.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Plus, unlike the situation at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or Splash Mountain in Disney World, you’re not actually in the lengthy lines. You’re just virtually waiting and free to do other things while you do.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Right now, Skull Island: Reign of Kong has the longest waits in Universal. A big part of that is that they haven’t used barriers on the bus ride format so they have to fill every other row. Kilimanjaro Safaris is moving much quicker in Disney World thanks to those plexiglass barriers.

Average Wait Times

For all of the parks, the moderate and low-popularity attractions seem to be averaging about the same amount.

Toon Town

On average, wait times hang out around 10 to 20 minutes for other attractions in both resorts. But it’s not uncommon to find walk-ons, especially in less popular parks (like Animal Kingdom) or areas (like Toon Town in Universal Studios) and toward the end of the park day.

Dining Wait Times

We’ve also got to talk a little bit about dining wait times. Overall, we’ve seen longer wait times in Universal Orlando for dining at popular Quick Service restaurants like The Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron.

The Three Broomsticks

Disney hasn’t had shocking waits at any Quick Service locations that we’ve noticed. That’s interesting to note!

The Biggest Differences

Overall, the parks have had pretty similar wait times, but there is one big difference. Unlike Disney, Universal has the option to turn on their Virtual Line which eliminates most of the physical wait.

Virtual Lines

Still, the Virtual Line doesn’t make the wait times shorter in themselves. It seems that whether you’re physically standing in a queue or virtually in one, the wait times come in at around the same length.

Are you headed to Universal or Disney soon? Tell us in the comments. 

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