April Botta, her son, and I were able to attend the reopening day for Annual Passholders of Universal Studios Orlando today June 3, 2020. We were very impressed with all of the changes that they had made to try and keep people safe while attending their parks.
We were staying at Aventura Resort at Universal. We arrived to the hotel on June 2, 2020, which was the opening day for the hotels. We entered the lobby wearing our face coverings as required. We immediately were met with a security check point to check our temperature with a handheld thermometer that does not touch the skin. Once we passed this check we were given a colored wristband and were advised that we would get a different colored band each day. When you enter the resort again or even the parks, all you have to do is to show this band which indicates that you have passed this check.
There was plexiglass where the team member was standing at the check in desk. The team member gave us instructions on how to get to our room and advised us that we need to wear our masks when outside of our room. We were advised (and there is signage) that only one party should be in an elevator at a time to allow for social distancing. The Resorts are not offering daily housekeeping services and if you need something you call down, they will bring it up, knock on your door and leave the item outside the door.
For dinner, in the food court, we were able to order our food. If you are using the Coke Freestyle machines, you are allowed to fill your own cup but the standard fountain soda machines have to be managed by a team member. The team members are constantly around washing down items after you have used/ touched them. We found the resort to be especially clean.
Next up, we checked out the pool.
You are NOT permitted to wear a mask in the pool. (It's actually dangerous as the water doesn't flow well through the masks.)
No masks needed when in the lounge chairs.
Masks are needed if you are walking around the pool deck.
Universal is allowing many options for facial coverings. You can wear a cloth face mask, a surgical disposable face mask, a cooling gaiter, or even a bandana. We found the bandanas to be the most comfortable, especially in the FL heat & humidity.
To take a break, there are 2 mask-free rest zones called U-Rest Areas in each park and 1 in city walk. In these areas you can freely take off your mask. You still need to social distance and the team members limit the number of guests in these areas.
There are some tables, chairs, benches, and walls that you can sit on. We greatly enjoyed this area for a period of time.
I have included photos of the signage in the parks. They are definitely social distancing in queue lines. We found that in many cases the distance was definitely larger than 6 feet or 2 meters. As you get on the ride, each rider is given a squirt of hand sanitizer. In many instances, families/ parties may be the only ones on the ride vehicle. We had a few instances where that happened. In particular, we rode ET, which usually seat about 12 people. On our ride vehicle, there was just the three of us. Although it is the right thing to do for safety, it does have a downside. It will greatly increase wait times. Universal is using virtual queues for some rides. You have to use the Universal app to go in and choose a time. You can only use one virtual queue reservation per Universal app account. You can get the whole party a reservation using one app account. We did run into some glitches with the virtual queues but I am sure Universal is still working on the system.
Universal does not have the paper maps available so all guests are encouraged to have the Universal Orlando app on their smart phone/ tablet. It would need to be on a device with WIFI that guests are bringing into the parks. One caution, we did find some online menus not matching the paper menus. Additionally, the dining plan credits are not functioning with mobile ordering.
I did mention earlier about the signage. There are sandwich boards and other signs EVERYWHERE! One cool aspect of this is that it makes it really easy to locate the restrooms as there is a sign outside showing where you can go to wash your hands. We did no see any extra hand sanitizer stations in the parks. It really would be difficult for anyone who is not sure what to do to find information. Additionally, there are Guest Experience Team Members wearing a White button down shirt. They are the ones to go to with questions regarding all of these new rules.
We felt that Universal did a fabulous job getting the parks read for reopening and reopening the parks.
Lynne Macolini, Co-Owner of Coasters & Castles Travel.