Just ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Universal Orlando announced plans to reopen its theme parks to the public beginning June 5, after receiving approval from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Universal Orlando theme parks—Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Island of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay—shut down in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will reopen with limited capacity.
The parks will also operate differently under enhanced health and safety guidelines, similar to those announced by major hotel chains.
Changes at the parks include requiring guests and employees to wear face masks, checking temperatures of guests and employees upon their arrival, and sanitizing guests’ hands before boarding rides. Capacities will also be limited on rides and at shows and restaurants.
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The three parks will join Universal’s entertainment district CityWalk, which reopened May 14 with new health and safety protocols.
“We want to invite guests back to our theme parks in a cautious and thoughtful way,” said Tom Williams, chairman and CEO for Universal Parks & Resorts, in a press release. “Doing this the right way will take all of us—and we need everyone’s help. Guests should follow our guidelines and continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and health officials.”
Other new protocols at Universal Orlando theme parks include:
- Having select rides and attractions use Virtual Line on the Official Universal Orlando Resort App, which allows guests, while they’re onsite, to select a time to ride an attraction and minimize the time they’re waiting in actual queue lines.
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of food locations, rides, restrooms and other frequent-touch points.
- Implementing cashless payments and “no touch” policies where possible.
- Staggering spacing on ride vehicles and queue lines to comply with physical distancing.
Another major Orlando attraction, Walt Disney World Resort, remains temporarily closed. Although, on May 27, Disney unveiled plans for a phased reopening that would welcome back guests in a limited capacity to the theme park on July 11, pending approval from Orange County and state authorities. Operational changes would include temperature screenings, requiring guests and cast members to wear face coverings, and increased disinfection and cleaning of high-traffic areas.
Disney is temporarily pausing new ticket sales for the theme park and Disney resort hotel reservations. Existing ticketholders and annual passholders will first be able to make reservation requests in phases. Disney says more details on that process will be available soon.
Meanwhile, Disney Springs has begun a phased reopening and started welcoming back business on May 20 with limited capacity. Changes there include limited parking, temperature screenings prior to entry and requiring face masks.