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Is it worth it to go to Universal in 2021?
Updated: January 2021
If you’re considering visiting Universal and are wondering if it’s worth it to visit Universal in 2020, this post is for you.
As a Universal Travel Agent and Annual Passholder at Universal, I want to share my thoughts on visiting Universal in 2021 and whether it’s worth it for you.
Please note that I am not going to be discussing whether you should travel or not due to what is going on in the world. Travel is a personal choice. If you’re uncomfortable traveling now, by all means, wait! However, if you’re ready to travel and wondering if it’s worth it to visit Universal right now, this post might help you decide.
I also have a video version of this post on YouTube. Check it out!
Should I rent a car in Orlando?
I like to get around as needed while on vacation so I like to rent a car. I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental. They offer the best rates available whether you’re flying into Orlando or Sanford.
What’s different at Universal since reopening?
#1. Masks are required at Universal
The biggest and most noticeable difference at Universal since reopening is likely the face coverings. Face coverings are required for all guests over the age of two.
If you have a medical condition and are unable to wear a mask, talk to guest services. We were told that guests unable to wear masks can wear face shields instead.
Masks can be removed in U-Rest areas, while dining or drinking (just step away from any crowds,) on water rides, and in most parts of Volcano Bay.
Face coverings are required in Universal hotels but can be removed while swimming or lounging at the pool and while dining in resort restaurants.
#2. Physical Distancing at Universal
I’ll be honest, I like this one! It’s hot in Orlando, and some of the queues can get claustrophobic.
If you’ve read my problem with Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure post, you know this was my only problem with Hagrid’s! However, this probably doesn’t exist with distancing measures in place.
The one downside of the distancing measures is that some of the pre-shows are different or removed entirely.
At rides like Escape from Gringott’s and Men in Black, the “fake elevator” elements are removed as distancing could not be maintained. Other attractions have modified or completely removed pre-shows.
Guests are distanced from other parties on rides and in the queues. The only place where I noticed people being pushed together were some exits.
#3. Cleaning and sanitizing at Universal
Universal has done an incredible job of keeping everything squeaky clean. Ride vehicles are often cleaned between guests, and guests are required to use hand sanitizer before every ride.
#4. Temperature Checks
Universal Orlando is requiring temperature checks for all guests. Hotel guests can be checked at their hotel daily and will receive a wristband. All other guests will be checked when going through security at City Walk.
#5. Ride wait times
Now for the good stuff, the wait time for rides and attractions can be lower. Even with physical distancing measures in place, wait times are shorter during the weekend. The weekends are a different story and I would recommend getting an Express Pass.
You can get free Express Passes for your entire party by staying at Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay, and Loews Royal Pacific.
You can check out my Royal Pacific Resort Tour here.
One notable exception was The Incredible Hulk, which had a short (less than 60 minute) wait during most of our visits. The other exception was Hagrid’s which is sometimes virtual line and sometimes standby.
#6. Character Meet-and-Greets at Universal
The character meet-and-greets are different, but they are happening! Most characters are on a platform or something in order to stay 6 feet from guests. No more hugs from Poppy and Branch!
You can take your mask down during photos, I just forgot 😉
#7. Halloween Horror Nights and Christmas
Universal has confirmed (to guests directly, not officially) that Halloween Horror Nights will be happening. After the announcement from Disney that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party could be canceled, this was good news for Halloween fans!
Although Christmas was a bit different, it was also a lot of fun! Check out Christmas at Universal Orlando 2020 to learn more.
Universal will be doing a modified Mardi Gras for 2021 and I will update as soon as it starts!
Is it worth it to visit Universal in 2021?
So, is it worth it to visit Universal in 2021? My opinion is that, yes, it is worth it! There are definitely upsides and downsides.
I’ve had several people express that they wanted to wait until the mask requirement was dropped which I do understand. It’s very hot but fortunately, Universal is offering U-Rest zones throughout the parks.
The only other downside is the modified rides and attractions. If it’s your first visit, it may be a little less magic without the pre-shows but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s a great time to visit Universal.
Visiting Universal in 2021
That’s my opinion, what do you think? Will you be visiting Universal in 2021? Let me know in the comments. If you are heading to Universal Orlando soon, check out my other Universal Travel Tips:
- 15 Genius Universal Studios Hacks
- 7 Best rides at Universal Studios Orlando
- 7 things to buy at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 25 Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips
- 7 things to buy BEFORE going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 20 things to know before going to Universal Studios
- Rip Ride Rockit Secret Song List
Are you planning a Universal Vacation?
Although I’m a certified Universal Travel Advisor, I am not taking on many new clients in 2021. You can contact me to check availability, but please keep in mind that I do charge a small travel planning fee. Contact me now for more info.
If you prefer to DIY your Universal vacation, I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist.
There are a lot of really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (like Undercover Tourist,) or an approved Travel Agent.
I always recommend staying onsite if you can. Universal Orlando now consists of Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and Universal CityWalk. Universal Orlando is also home to eight resorts; Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Loews Royal Pacific, Aventura Hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Universal Endless Summer Resorts – Dockside Inn and Suites and Seaside Inn and Suites.
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Is it worth it to visit Universal in 2021?
Hi Amy!! Love your blogs! They are so helpful!! I just flew in and I’ve been wondering if it’s worth visiting Universal, but after reading your blogs I feel more comfortable with the thought of visiting! I was planning on getting the 2 park one day tickets. Do you think it would be worth it? I’m also worried that since they are limiting guests in both parks I won’t be able to jump to the other park because of a full capacity of guests! Let me know what you think!! Thank you 🙂
Hey Diana, thanks so much!! Right now, one day might be enough but I’d really recommend two! As far as I know, they haven’t reached capacity yet BUT one way to guarantee your way in would be staying at a Universal resort!! If you do that, they “reserve” a spot for you in the parks. I’d be happy to help you book if you’d like – just let me know!