Tourists and locals flock to Orlando area theme parks
ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - For the second time in as many days, several Orlando area attractions have reached capacity crowds.
Shortly after noon on Thursday, Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure had to place guests in queues outside of the theme park until staff could accommodate additional people. As it did on Wednesday, Universal Orlando announced extended at IOA. The park will close at midnight, rather than 11 p.m. as originally scheduled, according to Public Relations Manager for Universal Orlando Resort Alyson Lundell.
Three of Walt Disney World's major parks -- Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom -- reached capacity crowds on Wednesday. The parks were expected to be as crowded on Thursday.
Park capacity has not been an issue for SeaWorld Orlando because of additional parking and holiday celebrations which are primarily nighttime events, according to a park spokesperson. Terry Prather, President of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment's three Orlando parks said this year has seen one of the top holiday weeks ever. "We're having an incredible holiday season," said Prather. "The weather is great and crowds are pouring in to experience Seaworld's Christmas Celebration."
By late morning, new arrival to Florida's attraction offerings, Legoland Florida, was nearing a capacity crowd. The park had to turn away guests around 2 p.m. just a day earlier.
Once people do get through the gates at most of the major theme parks, they are having to wait even longer for their favorite rides. Wait times of 1-3 hours are not uncommon for popular rides such as Space Mountain at Disney's Magic Kingdom or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure.
For those who are tech savvy, you can use special mobile applications which are availble through iTunes which allow guests to track wait times at Walt Disney World and wait times at Universal Orlando .
The large crowds are expected to continue through the holiday weekend. Those who plan to visit an area theme park should arrive early and expect to wait in long lines. It would also be advisable to call ahead to make sure parks haven't already reached capacity.