The following is a tale about Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Hurricanes and a vast difference in customer service.
First. Proof that there are good people. I lost my wallet in Epcot. Noticed after I made it pat the US pavilion. I checked everywhere I had been as I had only made it into the park 30-45 minutes prior. Foolishly all my credit cards were in there, all my identification. Before going to park myself at Lost & Found I wandered into the gift shop, near the US pavilion and there it was. A very nice, kind lady had turned it in. Everything inside.
This trip was my fourth time in Orlando enjoying the parks. As always, more time was spent at Disneyworld than at Universal. However, I decided that I wanted multiple days at Universal this time so that I could say on premises and see The Blueman Group for the first time. Unfortunately, a hurricane named Matthew, had other things to say about that.
Disneyworld and Universal both shut down on Thursday, October 6th at 5PM and for only the 4th time since it opened, Disneyworld was completely closed on Friday, October 7th. My original schedule had me at Universal on the 7th doing the parks and Halloween Horror Nights with the express pass. I managed to get the express pass and more moved to the 8th before things got worse.
Next I come to a prime example of the difference in customer service between Disney and Universal. Disney had people, from a safe location, answering phones on Thursday afternoon and Friday so that guests could know what is going on. They provided regular updates via the website and even put voicemails on guests rooms. Everyones stay was automatically extended beyond check out to keep people safe.
Universal? Late Thursday evening a voicemail was put into place. Across all numbers stating that due to the hurricane and the safety of guests/staff the park is closed and more information will be given soon. The message continued throughout the night and ALL through Friday… No further updates on the website or with that voicemail being changed.
Now I completely, 100% understand wanting to ensure the safety of staff. Completely. But Universal is a big company. They have people on phones in other locations. They have the ability to remotely update voicemail or have people change the website. All people want in a situation like this is just a little bit of information.
It all worked out (minus the Blueman Group part) in the end and I did have a very nice time at Universal/Islands of Adventure and the Halloween Horror Nights.
Just a quick tip regarding Halloween Horror Nights in either California or Orlando. Get the express pass or don’t waste your time going. Yes, the express pass is more than $100 on top of what you already paid, but, how valuable is your time? This year Orlando had 10 houses and with the express pass I saw all 10 as well as the Bill & Ted Halloween show. I also had time to relax, get something to eat and do a few rides.
Without the pass you would be lucky to see three houses and don’t plan on doing rides or seeing the shows unless you want to reduce that to two houses. The lines can be long, up to 90 minutes long for a house that will take you 4 minutes to walk through.
Such a rambling post.