Don’t Forget Downtime at Universal!

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Ha HA! The article that none of you saw coming. Because I always write about Disney World. I occasionally write about Disneyland. And I pretty much never ever write about Universal. Is it because as a mom with young kids Disney parks are more approachable? Because I’ve been travelling to Disney World my whole life and have only been to Universal once? Because we have oodles of data about Disney and little trickles of data from Universal? Because Star Wars >> Harry Potter? Yes.

But all of that is beside the point. Sometimes, we really need all of the data to get a full picture. And since the Disneyland data was so surprising, the obvious next step was seeing what was happening over at Universal. So hopefully by this point you know the deal. If you don’t, read the posts about Disney World parks and attractions, and about Disneyland. Then you’ll be all caught up. And see if you can predict what’s up before we get to the results!

The one picture I could find of me from my first and last trip to Universal … 9 years ago. Such a baby!

Explain the Math

If you look up any past date in the Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar, you’ll see information about capacity lost due to downtime for each park. And if you look at any wait times graphs for any attraction for any date in the past, you can also tell when a ride is down by the lack of posted wait times for a specific time period.

In this post we’re going to look at the park-wide capacity lost due to overall downtime, as well as attraction-specific data to see if we can pin-point any particular problems.

How Does Universal Downtime Compare to Disney?

Just like for Disneyland, we’re going to compare the first 6 months of 2022. Weather patterns will be the exact same for Universal and Disney World, so we’ll get a good test of the true differences between the two.

Average whole-park capacity lost due to attraction closure by park for January-June 2022

Were your hypotheses correct? Both Universal resorts fall ever-so-nicely between the WDW parks and the Disneyland parks. This is almost too perfect, but I’ll take it.

We previously saw that Hollywood Studios had the worst downtime issues of any Disney World park, but both Universal Orlando parks are even worse. Thankfully for Universal, Disneyland are even even worse, so there is some consolation. Still, an average of ~5% of capacity lost due to unexpected attraction downtime is really … not great.

What are the Problem Attractions?

Universal and Islands of Adventure have almost identical capacity lost due to downtime – so we’d expect some difficulties at both parks. But which are creating the real problems?

Average capacity lost due to attraction closure for January-June 2022

See what I did there? Made you think it would be all even-like? Turns out a lot of the big problems show up at Islands of Adventure (blue bars), with just a couple at Universal (orange bars). At the lower end, things even out. But at the top, Islands of Adventure is the bigger problem.

  • Let’s cover Universal first – Rip Ride Rockit experiences the most downtime of any Universal attraction. If you know anything about the layout of the park, this shouldn’t be surprising. It’s in an incredibly windy spot, and as a result has to shut down regularly. Woody Woodpecker is the other issue here, but it at least doesn’t break that 10% mark.
  • Pteranodon Flyers shouldn’t be a big a surprise at the top of the list for Islands of Adventure. It seems like that attraction is constantly unavailable.
  • Then we have four bigger and more popular attractions – Hagrid’s is pretty notorious for breakdowns (and … bees), and VelociCoaster has had some issues since its opening as well. But be all of those nesting birds or something.
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure, Dudley Do-Right and the Bilge-Rat Barges are all susceptible to weather-related closures since they’re outdoor water attractions. A difficult thing to be during summer in Central Florida.

What Does This Mean For Me?

  1. Becky writes Universal articles, apparently. It’s a crazy world we live in.
  2. More outdoor coasters and water rides = more weather-related downtime. The difference between Walt Disney World and Universal may just come down to that.
  3. If Rip Ride Rockit is important to you, pay attention to the wind forecast for the day and go when things are calm. Otherwise, Universal should be easier to plan for than Islands of Adventure, as far as downtime is concerned.

If you’re a big Universal fan: a) why are you reading today? Joe writes on Fridays. b) do the downtime percentages make sense to you? Are there other data-related things you’d like to know about the Universal parks? Let me know in the comments!

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

2 thoughts on “Don’t Forget Downtime at Universal!

  • June 29, 2022 at 4:07 pm
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    Harry Potter >>>>>>> Star Wars

    Great analysis!

    Reply
  • June 29, 2022 at 9:11 pm
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    Where’s Universal Studios Hollywood? Does it merit its own post?

    Reply

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