Marvelous Mouse Travels was there for the opening of Universal Orlando Resort to share all of the new protocols and procedures! Universal has done an amazing job taking the guidelines and policies that they have put in place and continuing the tradition of making it an EPIC experience for travelers! We arrived to the resort on June 3rd. The parks were open on June 3rd and June 4th to annual passholders and open to the general public on June 5th.
Here is some information for you on Universal’s opening experience!
When checking into our resort we entered the lobby and there is a screener setup there to take your temperature. Once your temperature is taken and is under 100.4 degrees you are given a wristband to wear. The color of the wristband changes daily and once you receive your daily wristband you are not required to have your temperature checked again until the next day. Access to the parks and resorts are granted with the wristband as an indicator that you are temperature free.
Upon arriving at our resort at around noon our room was ready. They did inform us that housekeeping services are halted and that if we needed anything to call the front desk and they would send it right up. We later found out that upon check out they are keeping the guests rooms empty for 24-48 hours before checking new guests into the rooms. There are hand sanitizing stations throughout the resorts and signage regarding social distancing. It is stated that only 1 family at a time use the elevators. Masks are required while in all common areas within the resorts. Pools are all open and masks are not permitted in the pools themselves. You are required to wear the mask until you arrive at your pool chair and are then free to take them off. Note that at this time pool hopping is not permitted between resorts.
Social distancing is being practiced across transportation vehicles. Busses have reduced capacity and water taxis are skipping rows to promote social distancing.
Parks are operating on reduced capacity and limited attendance. While those numbers have not been released to the general public it is important to realize that those guests staying at an onsite resort have guaranteed entrance! Upon entering the parks you will notice social distancing markers everywhere. These are generally 6 feet apart and are used in areas where there are outdoor areas of gathering such as the Blues Brothers show and throughout attraction lines.
Signage throughout the park is used in full effect to promote the use of virtual lines, handwashing, social distancing, and to remind guests of guidelines.
The use of virtual lines is a new concept for Universal and overall it has been well executed. You are able to make a virtual line reservation either through the Universal app or by use of signs spread throughout the parks. You are able to be placed in 2 virtual lines at a time. You simply pull up your app, look to see what attractions are participating in the virtual system, and what times are available to sign up. This is a first come system. It is important to realize that attractions with the virtual lines do not have standby lines. You must be in a virtual line or have an express pass where applicable to ride. The virtual line system does not replace the benefit of express passes. Once your timeframe opens you can enter the standby line for that attraction. All lines are socially distanced with markers on the floor.
While in the lines ride vehicles are being sanitized, socially distanced seating, and there are attendants that are giving out hand sanitizer to all riders prior to them loading on the ride vehicles.
Character experiences are still plentiful throughout the parks. While parades are not currently performing you will see floats throughout the day individually moving down the streets. Characters are all out and around the parks in areas and in a way that social distancing is possible. Guests are free to stand near the characters and/or take a selfie from a safe distance! During our time in the parks we saw characters from Shrek, Betty Boop, Hello Kitty, Penguins, Marilyn Monroe, The Simpsons, Dora and Diego, Trolls, The Cat and the Hat characters, Super Heroes and others throughout the parks!
Masks are required to be worn throughout the parks. I was pleasantly surprised that it was way more manageable then what I thought it would be. If you are feeling as though you need a break from the mask there are 2 areas within each park and 1 in Citywalk labeled as U Rest where you are able to take off the mask. At Universal these spots can be found at Central Park and at Fear Factor. At Islands of Adventure these areas can be found at the Port of Entry and back near Sinbad. There is one location at Citywalk as well! While dining at any locations you are also permitted to remove your masks as well.
The cleaning protocols put into place were nothing less than impressive. EVERYWHERE you look there are employees sanitizing. I even saw them sanitizing a concrete bench. In Citywalk there are attendants at the moving sidewalk continually cleaning and sanitizing the moving handrail.
Freestyle mugs are still being sold. Each Freestyle machine is staffed with an attendee that is there to sanitize it fully after each use.
Universal has thought of everything! Even Caricatures are still being crafted with modifications. Now you provide a selfie or a photo for the caricature artist to draw.
Volcano Bay is the one theme park in which masks will not be required. They are not permitted on the water rides and in the pools and are suggested for use when social distancing cannot be maintained throughout the park. The only place they will be required at Volcano Bay are in stores and in the restaurants before you are sitting at your table.
Citywalk is operating with modifications as well! Restaurants are open and when sitting and eating masks are not needed to be worn. Menus are disposable and thrown away with each use. Sanitized silverware is brought to the table upon arrival and condiments upon request. It was great to be able to sit on the patio at Margaritaville, drink a few margaritas, and listen to some live music. For just a little while the world seemed “normal” again”
Overall I am so happy to have been able to be back in a theme park and be there for the historic event of Universal reopening. I was so impressed by how well the entire thing was managed and that even with modifications and slight adjustments the experience was just as awesome as ever before! There was not a period of time during my stay that I did not feel as though my health and safety was not at the forefront of the mind of Universal. I left with an Annual Pass in hand and plans to bring my family back in just a few weeks!
One thing that I learned from this experience is the use of a travel advisor is more important now than ever before. With changing policies an procedures there are very specific strategies that can be used to make sure that your getting the most of your trip, waiting in line the least amount of time, and experiencing the parks to the fullest extent. One benefit of working with Marvelous Mouse Travels is the early entry that is an additional perk with tickets alone. The early entry can be invaluable for ensuring park admittance and starting your day off in the best possible situation! Reach out to our agents today to take advantage of their expertise in planning your next EPIC Universal vacation!