Posted Friday, April 29, 2022 10:07 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Comcast’s Universal theme park business continued to recover after extended shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Revenue in the division soared more than 151% year over year to $1.56 billion, which exceeded analysts’ projected $1.44 billion, according to FactSet.
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I believe this to be accurate as I was there on Monday and I was shocked at how busy the park was. (I did 1-day admission to IOA). I know they’re promoting the hell out of Velocicoaster, but man I long for the days when the Orlando parks were walk-on during most school months.
Yeah, I went in February with my brother-in-law's family because they didn't plan ahead enough to get Disney reservations. I couldn't believe how busy it was. I did a full day, and I couldn't reasonably get on Velocicoaster (though my friend told me the standby queue even full was most certainly not two hours... it doesn't hold that many people). What a change from the mid-aughts where I would go in the summer and it was never busy, and even City Walk was a ghost town after 8.
We went back in 2021 when everyone was still social distancing... or at least supposed to be social distancing and masks were required throughout the whole experience.
It was still pretty full even then.
We had to rope drop the 2 days we rode Hagrid's, otherwise, the virtual queue was gone in seconds.
Seems like my employer is in the wrong business...!
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
/X\ _ *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
While there certainly is no "slow season" anymore, I can't say I notice much of a difference the last few times at the parks. Things have been consistent, more than anything. But it's never seemed worse or anything, to me.
But we do utilize single rider lines and had no problem getting 8+ rides on VC in a single visit, for example. Last time at the park, Hulk's normal wait was only 15 minutes which was one of the shortest I've seen in a long time.
At least you can still do stuff even when busy by using single rider or simply buy express if you so desire. Options are there, at least.
I remember in the aughts, pre-Potter, how City Walk was usually a ghost town at night, and you could easily get into most restaurants. Everything was a walk-on late in the operating day. But even in early 2010, I remember parent swapping in Forbidden Journey over and over one evening because they were sending empty benches.
My first visit back in February was nuts. Express was sold out, and selling three days out for more than $300. Things have definitely changed.
Universal is definitely a whole different experience when it comes to crowds and crowd predictions compared to when I moved here in 2008. But there are still easy ways to have productive park days. WDW on the other hand is the true cluster. I remember when rides at Magic Kingdom (even Space Mountain and Peter Pan) would have reasonable 30 minutes or less standby waits all day long on off peak season weekdays. Or all day walkons for Tower of Terror. Those are the days that are truly long gone.
I can't get over Universal's stupid hours most of the year. I think it's getting better but I'm not sure if it's a long-term thing because they don't advertise hours more than two months out.
And yeah, I stopped going to MK unless I'm forced to years ago.
And that's the issue for me. I don't want to stop going to Magic Kingdom. I genuinely enjoy the park. But between the hassle just to get to the gate and then the hassle once inside the gate, it's almost always a frustrating and often lacking experience. I know you can't stop people from going. But I still say they are underpricing it.
Yeah, it has always been my 4th place, and if it weren't for having a 12-year-old, I'd go once or twice a year. But the parking then monorail/ferry and back is just the worse, amplified 100x if you leave near the end of the day. Maybe that transition from the real world to the park works for the average tourist, but it's definitely cumbersome for locals.
The thing is that most of the tourists don't have to do it since the resort buses go right to the gate. I remember as a kid we were actually a little disappointed the first year we came down and realized we wouldn't be taking the monorail to Magic Kingdom. Now that I'm a local I'd give anything to have a "legal" way to park at Contemporary to stop into the park for a few rides and a snack.
There's no way all of those people in the parking lot are not tourists, walking in front of cars, trying to get almost-luggage on to trams, slathering on sunscreen from their trunks with Ohio license plates. :)
It's curious to read this thread as I consider another stateside trip. From a distance it seems as if Universal's ride capacity has grown or at least been maintained.
Is it just a case of there being that many more people ?
Nothing to see here. Move along.
At Universal it’s most noticeable on the midways, entrance gates, and Express Pass queues.
An Express Pass at Universal used to be a pure skip the line pass on all but the busiest days. In the last year (I had the after 4 Express) lots of rides had actual waits.
Some other things I notice…
I can’t find a seat at the Diagon Alley picnic tables anymore. I used to be able to roll up at any time during the day, grab a beer, and sit down. Not to mention how crowded Diagon Alley is and how long the queue for Escape from Gringots has been.
There’s always a line at Backwater Bar, Hog’s Head bar, and Watering Hole.
Prior to this year I’ve maybe only seen the Spider-Man outdoor queue used once or twice and I’ve been visiting yearly since… since a long time. That’s a regular occurrence this year.
All that said I’ve ridden Velocicoaster more than 15 times this year and have never waited more than 60 minutes, often less than 40 so it’s still a good experience. But for me Universal used to be a relaxing place to visit when compared to Disney, a sigh of relief from the crowds if you will. That seems to be changing and hasn’t showed any sign of slowing.
Yeah, both WDW and Universal keep growing and adding more attractions and space, but that space is filling up faster than they can expand.
The increased ticket prices don't seem to affect anyone either.
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