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The world is starting to open back up. As a travel agent, that's a relief. As a mom, I need to know how that's happening and the best ways to travel safely.
And here's what my kids love: Central Florida's theme parks are preparing to welcome visitors! Our favorite park, Universal Orlando's Resort just announced they will reopen on June 5th. But things will be a bit different for now. If you take your family trip to Universal's Orlando Resort this summer, here's what to expect:
Before you go
Capacity will be controlled at Universal's Orlando Resort. Universal Orlando has not announced what the new capacity limit will be, but 50% has been widely reported. If Universal Orlando hits capacity, you will be denied entry. Universal Orlando is not requiring reservations, but I would suggest you check Universal Orlando's website for updates. I expect Universal Orlando to update some of their policies and procedures after they have been open for a while and they see what is working and what is not. Universal Orlando will be closing earlier than usual, so you should check the theme park hours before you visit.
Universal Orlando will be requiring all guests and team members to wear a face-covering at all times. Choose a lighter color face mask, if you can. Remember how hot it is to wear a black t-shirt in the summer? Now imagine that effect on your face! Universal Orlando will have some face masks for sale, but I would highly suggest you bring your own in case they are sold out. It would be a bummer to get all the way there and then be turned away because you don't have a mask. Universal Orlando plans to sell fun themed masks in the future, but as of now they just have plain masks. I would bring a backup mask, if you can, in case your mask gets lost on a ride or gets wet. Those Central Florida sudden rain storms can be brutal. The mask must be worn over your nose and mouth. You can remove your face covering when eating or drinking, of course, as well as when you are in a pool or another water attraction. Team members will wear face coverings at all times, unless they are serving as lifeguards or in another role where they can't safely wear them. Guests who have not yet turned 3 are exempt from this requirement, because it can be dangerous for children that young to wear masks (and let's be honest, toddlers aren't going to wear a mask for long anyway). If you have a disability that prevents you from wearing a mask, team members will refer you to guest services to discuss reasonable accommodations.
Parking and Entry
Universal Orlando announced they will be staggering parking, in order to keep different travel groups apart and promote social distancing. As you approach security, a Universal Orlando Team Member will use a touchless thermometer to take your temperature. If you have a temperature over 100.4 Fahrenheit, you will be denied entry to the Theme Parks and Citywalk. Universal Orlando Team Members will also be screened for fever before they report to work.
Restaurants at Universal Orlando will be operating at a reduced capacity. They will not be accepting reservations, so you might have to wait for a table. The provided menus will be paper single use versions, and some restaurants will be offering a limited menu. Tables will be spaced apart to promote social distancing. Mobile ordering will be offered for quick-serve restaurants. Universal Orlando offers touchless payments such as Apple Pay throughout the resort. I suggest eating during non-peak times to avoid some of the wait and crowd. My husband and I love to eat a big snack around 3 o'clock and then grab a late dinner after the parks close when we visit.
Universal Orlando will be offering virtual lines for select rides and attractions in order to reduce the amount of people waiting in the queue. Before you get to Universal Orlando, you should download the Universal Orlando Resort App so you can make virtual line reservations on your phone while you are visiting, and check wait times for any rides that are not offering a virtual line. There will be floor markings to help everyone stay spaced apart in line. Universal Orlando will be asking guests to use hand sanitizer before you board a ride vehicle, but don't worry if you forget yours at home, as they will be providing it, as well as selling hand sanitizer in the gift stores. Team members will be directing guests to leave some seats in ride vehicles empty in order to promote social distancing. Universal Orlando will not be opening up the single rider lines since single rider lines are traditionally used to fill in empty spaces. The majority of attractions will be open, but select attractions will temporarily remain closed. Universal Orlando hasn't announced what attractions won't be opening, but they plan to announce the details soon.
Shows, Characters, and Play Areas
Universal Orlando has not yet announced when their shows will reopen. The Blue Man Group won't be performing their popular performances. An opening date has not yet been announced. As far as shows within the park, they haven't announced which shows will reopen just yet, but I expect Universal to announce their plans soon. Universal Orlando has not yet announced a new opening date for their newest show Bourne Stuntacular, which was scheduled to open during the closure.
The nighttime show at Islands of Adventure, which is projected onto Hogwarts, is very popular. But the crowds are usually packed in shoulder to shoulder, which Universal Orlando will need to avoid for now. Universal has not announced whether they will run the show with more crowd control or if they won't bring it back just yet.
Universal Orlando has not made an announcement about their beloved characters walking around with guests at the park. However, characters have been out and about in Citywalk, though they are not doing traditional meet and greets. They are keeping their distance.
Play areas will remain closed. Because you try keeping kids distanced in a play area.
Our favorite park, Universal Orlando's Resort just announced they will reopen on June 5th. But things will be a bit different for now. If you take your family trip to Universal's Orlando Resort this summer, here's what to expect...
What about the other Theme Parks in the Orlando Area?
Walt Disney World plans to reopen July 11. Seaworld is planning for a June 11 reopening, Legoland is reopening June 1, Legoland will be conducting temperature checks but unlike their competitors Legoland will not be requiring masks.
Where to Stay
Universal Orlando has announced their resort hotels will open December 15, 2020. Dockside Inn and Suites was set to open in March. That opening was postponed.
I highly recommend staying onsite at Universal if you can. Cabana Bay Beach Resort is super nice and very affordable! ($120-150). The top 3 hotels at Universal even offer free express passes if you stay there! So I highly recommend The Hard Rock Hotel, the Portofino, or the Royal Pacific Resort. My husband loves the Hard Rock, lots of memorabilia everywhere!
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to Universal Orlando's Orlando resort from Southern California is to fly into Orlando's International Airport (MCO). If you're flying, you should check your airline's requirements. Many require masks while on the plane and in the airport. It's easy to get an Uber, Lyft or taxi from the airport. Feel like taking a road trip? Universal Orlando has ample parking available on site.
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