Universal Studios Is Open!
Not only was it Universal Orlando’s 30th anniversary, but it was my first day back since the theme parks closed in late March.
A few things were the same: you had to walk 3 miles to get to City Walk from the parking lot, it was humid, muggy and super gross outside as we were in between thunderstorms. Then, we came across something new very quickly:
Signs letting visitors know what is expected of us. Signs showing ways they are going to be sure to help us stay safe and healthy. Temperature checks before you enter the moving walkways. Signs. Signs. Everywhere there's signs.
Every attraction you enter, someone is giving you hand sanitizer. There is a team member whose job it is to squirt a little sanitizer in your hands before getting on the ride. How long will this last? I guess it depends on how much sanitizer they purchased. My hands and quite frankly forearms felt very clean and ready for touching bars and seatbelts.
Something Universal Orlando does really well are the 3D adventure attractions. They really are spectacular (ok I have one I can't stand… we can discuss that later) Since we are required to wear masks on these rides AND have the 3D glasses on, things get a little steamy. A lot of places have been giving the suggestion: “if you wear the mask up under the glasses it's better”… but it isn't great. I have a little face and that did not work for me. I will be honest and tell you that a few of them, I took the mask down from my nose. I know you aren't supposed to but….
To get on the rides, you have different options. The regular standby line is available for some and a virtual line is available. The virtual line can not be accessed unless you are in the parks. Also you have to be in the park that the attraction is in. Meaning, you can’t get in the virtual cue for Fast and the Furious- Supercharged, if you are playing Islands of Adventure. There were some hiccups with the virtual line - so be sure to take screenshots of your “ticket” when you get it. Also, really popular rides will release virtual times throughout the day so be patient and flexible.
If you frequented Disney parks before the pandemic, you may have used mobile ordering. It's a fantastic way of skipping food lines and being able to pay from your phone. Universal Orlando is now using mobile ordering in many of their dining locations, and a LOT of dining locations were not open.
We used Universal's mobile ordering at a location and thing went a little differently. When we first arrived we waited in a line until we could be seated at a socially distant table. Next we ordered our food and beverages on the app. Once we ordered we were instructed to give our name and mobile order number to a “server”. After a bit of a wait our food was brought to the table.
Not every team member seemed to know all the rules or who was taking care of which section or group of people… so there is probably going to be a bit of a learning curve there.
What was missing? People. There were not a lot of people, anywhere! OK the line for Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure was NOT lacking in people. But everywhere else, there just weren't a lot of people.
Everyone was wearing a mask, trying to stay as distant from one another as possible. I am not sure how it's all going to work when crowds get larger. I know they are limiting the number of people for each park, but there was no way we were at that number when we were there. Overall, it was just great to be back in a theme park.
Have further questions? Please feel free to reach out any time!