The Universal Orlando Resort recently reopened, and I was able to make a visit to explore all the operational changes. Prior to arrival, Universal sent an email advising of all the changes and what to expect. I made sure to read through all guidelines and have everything we would need for our trip. The signs below were present throughout the resort to prepare everyone with what to expect.
Once we arrived, we placed on our face masks as required by Universal Orlando Resort. As soon as we entered the lobby, we were greeted by the Hard Rock Hotel Staff and directed to have our temperatures taken before entering further. Once our temperatures were verified as being under 100.4º, we were given a bracelet to wear. These stations were setup at all the entrances/exits to the hotel. Every day before visiting the parks, our temperatures were taken by a forehead scanner, and we were given new wrist bands. This indicated to security and Universal team members that our temperatures had already been checked for the day so that we would not need to be checked again. This process was very convenient and kept us from having to be checked multiple times throughout the day as went in and out of the parks. Throughout the hotel and transportation areas, there were floor markers for social distancing. Guests are allowed to remove their masks in the pool area at the resorts. For guests that need a break from their masks throughout their day at Universal City Walk and Universal theme parks, rest and relaxation zones are setup. Guests can enter these zones for as long as they like and remove their masks. We found these very helpful and a nice place to take a break, and we rarely encountered any other guests in these areas.
We arrived at Universal Studios theme park during early park admission with no wait to enter the park. If there were lines, the waiting areas were social distanced with floor markers to accommodate everyone. Cast members were making announcements for the day about all the changes and there were signs throughout the area with the same information. One of the changes on how you enter the park is the discontinuation of fingerprint scanning. Instead, they ask that you show a photo ID after scanning your park ticket. I recommend taking a photo of your ID to show if you do not want to carry a wallet into the parks.
For the attractions at Universal Resort, the queues were all socially distanced with floor markers throughout and hand sanitizer was required before boarding any attraction vehicles. One big question I had before arriving was whether we would need express passes or not due to park capacity being limited. For most of the attractions, the waits were 30-40 minutes in the stand by lines, but in the major attractions like The Incredible Hulk, Escape from Gringotts, and Forbidden Journey, the waits were close to an hour long without express pass. Once we entered the express pass line, there were less than 5 minute waits, if any. Even though crowd capacity is capped, stand by lines are long due to social distancing in the queues and on the ride vehicles themselves. For this reason, I would still highly recommend staying onsite at an express pass hotel at Universal Orlando Resort (Hard Rock and Royal Pacific are the only two open presently). Also, to guarantee admission, you need to be staying onsite at a Universal Orlando Hotel, otherwise you could be turned away due to capacity constraints.
Since I was traveling with children, I was anxious to experience the character interactions first hand with the new social distancing policies in place. We were able to meet several characters throughout the park, and we found the interaction to be great! Even though we were spaced 6 feet apart, the characters spent several minutes talking with the kids and interacting with them even more than usual. Universal has done a great job of keeping this experience interactive and fun for everyone! Likewise, the stage shows were still enjoyable with performers on elevated platforms and social distancing between guests and team members on stage.
For restaurants and dinning throughout the parks and City Walk, tables were spaced appropriately and hand sanitizer was required upon entering and before being seated. Due to lower capacity limitations, I would recommend eating at off peak times to avoid long waits. At quick service locations, team members are encouraging mobile order, which is a great option, unless you are on the Universal Dinning Plan; then you will need to visit a host stand to order and pay.
My overall impression is that Universal Orlando Resort is doing a great job of keeping their guests safe but also maintaining a fun atmosphere that their guests are accustomed to. I was worried with all the changes and restrictions that we would have a less enjoyable experience, and after having spent a week at Universal, I can’t wait to go back! Universal has far exceeded my expectations on their reopening, and I highly recommend you book a Universal Vacation soon or keep your current plans to travel if you already have them. You won’t regret it!
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Contact me at JessicaNix@MickeyWorldTravel.com or 615-691-1271 to book your vacation today!