There’s a lot of changes around the world as we grapple with the new COVID-19 pandemic. But a virus is gonna virus so Universal Orlando opened up their doors with new procedures in place to reduce the spread and give people the love and fun they’ve missed in 2020.
It’s taken me awhile to write this article because I’ve been busy exploring the Orlando theme parks–and they have all various procedures in place but no two are the same.
LEGOLAND has taken a much more relaxed approach all around, Disney World and Universal are picking their battles and SeaWorld isn’t having many issues because it’s not attracting many people. (Besides the die hard people, but that’s a different story for a different time).
So let’s talk about what’s new at Universal Orlando (with pictures of course) and you can see what to expect when you head there next!
Yes, you can still say Hi!
There are still characters at Universal Orlando, but things are different. For one, you’re separated from them by quite a bit.
For two, they are wearing their own masks. (Unlike Disney Princesses who are rocking the more natural approach we love and know while keeping quite a distance!)
Lot’s and Lot’s of signage and cleaning at Universal Orlando!
The staff is going out all (well… what’s left of them), making sure that everyone is aware of cleaning options and they are also cleaning things quite a bit!
There’s signs for the bathrooms and reminders to wash your hands.
Stands for cleaning wipes to wipe down your drink station after you use it.
Signs alerting you that elevators are for one family at a time and numerous signs detailing what social distancing is (in great detail!)
There’s signs about where to stand, where not to sit, where to walk and where not to walk.
98 degrees is making a come back
Not the band… the temperature.
When you get to Universal Orlando there are temperature checks. If you come to the resorts for the day (yes, they still allow visits) or you come to stay, you’ll get your temperature checked and get a wrist band (this changes color) to show you are good for the next 24 hours.
If you come to the parks without being at the resort, you’ll get temperature checked before security. Those lines tend to get pretty long, so try not come right at opening (either before or an hour after opening) to avoid standing in the heat with your mask on.
Children of all ages are checked at Universal (at Disney they don’t check anyone under 2).
Speaking of Kids at Universal Orlando…
Kiddos under the age of 3 do not have to wear a mask. (Not that they would anyway, because they’re toddlers.)
This is a nice change from Disney World’s harsh and unfollowable policy since they don’t even make masks that fit well on 2 yr olds. IYKYK
Kids can also say hi to their favorite characters (from a distance) and can enjoy a few rides. However, most of the play spaces are closed. Hopefully those can be some of the first things to reopen.
For example, LEGOLAND has shown an excellent job of how areas can be closed and cleaned frequently and they are almost all outside in the sun.
Also, there’s a lot of Hand Sanitizer at Universal Orlando!
At Universal they require hand sanitizer in a number of places. And yes, they do have the bottle available for you to use as you’re not supposed to use your own.
They provide a bottle for you to use around the resort, and then a team member holds a bottle when you access the rides.
For those that can’t use hand sanitizer for health reasons or allergy reasons, you simply alert the staff. They will have a head team member come and chat with you. (Nothing scary or formal, just making sure you can’t use the hand sanitizer.) And then you are good to go on the ride and they clean it thoroughly when you are done.
I’ve spoken extensively with guest services about this (due to allergies on our end and manufacturing concerns). And unfortunately, there is no way around speaking with a lead team member. This is unlike other theme parks in Orlando that do not require hand sanitizer for rides.
Last but not least
Universal is still pretty fun. The masks give most people a headache and the place clears out fast in the heat of the afternoon. But the mornings are the place to be in the parks!
Ride times are unlike anything I have ever seen (great time to set some new records!). And team members are happy to have you back (seriously happy because their job depends on it!).
If you’re on the fence about a visit, weigh your options and consider your budget. There’s some great budget options like Surfside Inn and Cabana Bay.
If food allergies are a major concern, no worries there, because there’s tons of reviews! They do pretty well accommodating the top 8 allergens!
But most importantly, if you can afford to go, consider purchasing tickets now (for now or later) or merchandise. Support Universal Orlando and let them know there’s still a demand for the fun they provide!