Universal, Six Flags Soon Can Admit More Guests

May 4, 2021, 2:32 PM · The State of California has made Los Angeles County eligible to move into its least-restrictive, Yellow tier for Covid regulations, which would allow Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain to admit more guests.

In the Yellow tier, theme parks may operate at 35% capacity, up from 25% in the Orange tier. Los Angeles County is now reporting a test positivity rate of just 0.7% and an adjusted daily new case rate of 1.6 per 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, Disneyland's Orange County is reporting an adjusted case rate of 2.4 and SeaWorld's San Diego County is at 5.0, meaning that they will remain in the Orange tier with theme park capacity at 25%. A county must have an adjusted case rate under 2 to qualify for the Yellow tier.

Los Angeles County has reported zero Covid deaths for the past two days, with the entire state reporting just two deaths today. California currently has the lowest new case rate among all 50 U.S. states, with an average of four new cases a day per 100,000 residents. The national average is 15. As of yesterday, California reported that more than 19 million people in the state, or 60% of the population ages 16 and above, have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, with nearly 13 million people, or more than 40% of the 16+ population, fully vaccinated.

LA County officials are expected to make the move into the Yellow tier official either later today or tomorrow, allowing the new rules to go into effect as early as Thursday. So if you're looking to make a reservation to visit Universal Studios Hollywood or Six Flags Magic Mountain, you might find new availability on previously "sold out" dates once the tier move goes into effect and the parks may boost their capacity to 35%.

For tickets, our travel partner has discounts available on its Universal Studios Hollywood tickets page.

* * *
We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that - and our approach to covering theme park news - please sign up for our free, twice-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.

Replies (9)

May 4, 2021 at 2:58 PM

Increasing capacity to 35% won't be a welcome development to most visitors to Universal Studios, where wait times for many attractions have been in the two to three hour range. I've seen many reports of people giving up after waiting in one or two of these lines for the day.

Where capacity was apparently capped at under 15% for the first few days after the park re-opened, the park is not working well at 25% capacity.

The Studio Tour and Jurassic World are running at one party per row with a vacant row between parties. It's possible for a ride vehicle or studio tour car to run with just two or three occupants.

Apparently, if someone takes off their mask during a ride, the ride vehicle then needs to be completely wiped down with sanitizer and then run through one cycle without riders. I saw this being done on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Also, many of the people-eating shows like Waterworld and the Kung Fu Panda 3d show are currently closed, so there is less for people to do.

May 4, 2021 at 4:34 PM

I will be going to USH on Friday and will report then.

May 4, 2021 at 5:01 PM

I was at the park last Saturday. While the wait times stayed reasonable, for the first couple of hours after park open, by noon, most rides were posting above 90 minutes. Jurassic wavered between 180-240. I’d imagine that until the shows re-open and rides can fully load, this will be the new normal, especially if capacity is going to bump up to 35%.

I will note that some of the wait times appeared to be misleading, as we got in a “100 minute” line for Forbidden Journey and we’re on the ride within 25. The accuracy seemed to vary by ride.

May 4, 2021 at 5:29 PM

I don't know how Universal is running, but based on what I've seen at SFMM 35% now would be worse than 100% in normal times. Until parks can go back to loading rides fully, the current 25% is about the upper limit of feasibility as it results in lines comparable to a peak weekend on a daily basis under current guidelines. I hope parks will choose not to increase capacity just because they can, because it may do more long term damage if it results in a very poor guest experience.

May 4, 2021 at 9:18 PM

Yeah I'm not sure if increasing park capacity will be a good idea if they can't increase ride capacity. DLR seems to be doing well but I have no idea what exact percent capacity they're implementing. Like stated above, SFMM and USH are packed already... but you know SF, they'll increase capacity to get more money so

May 5, 2021 at 1:21 AM

While I work at the food department at the Potter section in USH, we were getting slammed for 2 weeks due to the hype of being reopened. Now after Disneyland reopened, it has gone back to its usual slow off-peak season day. Sure the temporary closure of the people eater show attractions is making the wait times longer than usual but they’re reopening soon due to spotting rehearsals going on at 5am for the past week.

May 5, 2021 at 10:45 AM

"I hope parks will choose not to increase capacity just because they can, because it may do more long term damage if it results in a very poor guest experience."
Dude this is the theme park industry we are talking about, I don't think limiting capacity in order to maintain a good experience is something any operator in the industry has thought about ever. And this is coming from someone that's been working in the industry over 20 years....have you ever been to WDW Christmas-New Years or DLR on an average Friday-Saturday night?

May 5, 2021 at 11:20 AM

I think the biggest issue is the capacity limitations on rides, particularly indoor ones with California's odd restrictions with regards to collective "contact time" on indoor rides and queues. Here on the East Coast, parks are able to load outdoor attractions to nearly full capacity with an empty seat between parties loaded in the same row, and indoor attractions fitted with plexi-glass and other engineering controls to separate rows on vehicles that might not be a full 6 feet apart.

However, it sounds like loading vehicles in California has become an exercise in over-cautiousness that ultimately doesn't offer any more protection than simply wearing a mask (and don't even get me started on the sanitizing requirements, which are ridiculous given that it's pretty universally agreed that transmitting the virus through surface contact is infinitesimally low). If parks could get attractions closer to optimal capacity, lines would not be a problem even if park attendance was increased. In the end, I would rather move quickly through a queue onto a fully-loaded ride than stand in a queue for an hour (hoping nearby guests keep their masks on and maintain their distance) onto a ride where I get a car to myself.

Also, the USH wait times are likely misleading because they typically post those based on physical queue length observations. Because of mandated social distancing, team members cannot use old visual queues to eyeball the length of the line in minutes, so they are understandably overestimating the wait times. Maybe after a few more weeks of operations, staff will have a better feel for the time it takes to get from certain spots in the queue to the load platform. Nonetheless, I'd much rather enter a queue and wait far less than the posted time than get stuck in there longer than what's posted, particularly in the COVID era.

May 9, 2021 at 3:50 PM

Robert, any news from your visit to Universal on Friday?

Did you stay during the afternoon to see how Universal was handling the crowds and distancing in queues and on the attractions?

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Visitors guides

Weekly newsletter