Post-Covid Positive Changes at Universal Orlando
October 27, 2020
I traveled down to Universal Orlando within 30 days of the parks reopening to the public following the Covid19 shutdown. While I do not think we are officially “post-Covid” yet, I want to share with you some obvious changes you will see around the Universal Parks and Resorts. These are all changes I experienced firsthand.
It. Is. Everywhere. Sprinkled throughout every resort and park are hand sanitizing station. Just a few examples:
- Outside every elevator door
- Along the bridges of Volcano Bay
- At the exit of the Hogwarts Express and all other attractions
- At every stand or restaurant serving food or drinks
- Even three were strategically positioned in the Club Royal Lounge at Loews Royal Pacific.
Hand sanitizer is not hard to find, which I loved. In addition, before boarding each attraction, there is a team member ready to give you sanitizer. Want your own? Hand sanitizer is available for sale at affordable prices AND you can bring your own into the parks.
Universal is known for the 3D and 4D attractions. In the past, guests would have grabbed a pair of 3D glasses from a bin before entering the attraction. Now, the glasses are handed to you by a team member wearing gloves. There is no longer a communal bin to take glasses out of. Warning: just like your eyeglasses or sunglasses, the attraction glasses can fog up. Know how to wear them with your mask so you do not miss anything on the attractions!
To be honest, I was worried about this. I did not understand how someone could have a low temperature going into Universal Studios if they just spent the entire morning in Islands of Adventure with a mask on. However, all my worries were gone once I arrived on property. To roam the resorts your temperature needs to be taken. This is done in the mornings in the lobby. After you “pass,” you will receive a wristband for the entire day. This means you are good to go to any other on property resort, Volcano Bay, Universal Studios, or Islands of Adventure. If for some reason your temperature is too high, there is a waiting area for you to take a breather.
For example, maybe you left the resort early in the morning to go for a run. When you come back they are taking temperatures. You are worried that running in the heat will affect your temperature check for you the day. You will have three changes to “pass” before they request you seek medical attention.
If you are not staying on property, a temperature check is done before you enter the park. I suggest getting this done at your resort where there is little to no wait and it is done in the AC!
I am used to mobile ordering at Disney, but not Universal. Until now! Now, mobile ordering is encouraged wherever you go! It prevents lines from backing up and people crowding waiting for food. In a few cases, I mobile ordered, was seated by a team member, and then they brought the food to me! It was like a table service experience at a quick service location!
Social distancing was well enforced at the parks and resorts. Beach chairs at Volcano Bay and pool chairs at all resorts were well over 6 ft a part. Whether you are in line to Escape from Gringotts or get a Frappuccino at Starbucks, there are markers on the floor so all parties are separated. Climbing the stairs to the top of the Krakatau Aqua Coaster at Volcano Bay? Look down because there are markers on the steps to prevent crowding.
On the boats and busses, only a limited number of parties are allowed on. With this limited capacity, benches and rows of seats can be skipped so the 6 feet rule is practiced. The same goes for the rides in the parks. Most rides have you skipping rows and team members will direct you to your seat. It is very strategically done especially in theaters like Shrek 4D. You will not notice cars skipped on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Why? Those are already 6 ft apart! This really keeps the line moving.
Speaking of Hagrid’s, let’s talk about Universal’s new virtual queue system. I LOVE it!! I was able to ride Hagrid’s 3 times because of it! And other rides and attractions are eligible too such as Fast & Furious- Supercharged, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Revenge of the Mummy. This allows you to reserve a time to come back to the attraction and ride. This not only helps limit the number of people in line, but you also don’t waste your park day in line! Go meet some characters, enjoy other attractions, or grab a bite to eat. I felt like this really added to my experience and my day. I hope it is here for good.
The Obvious: Masks
I could write an entire separate blog on masks and facial coverings in Universal… and I just might! But I am here to tell you now, you will NOT get away with walking around without a mask. It is mandatory and it is enforced. If you want to take it off for a picture with a character or family member, that is fine! And obviously it needs to come off to eat and drink, but otherwise the masks must stay on.
If you are at Volcano Bay or a resort pool, masks are not required while swimming. But if you go and order a drink or want some ice cream, you must wear it while ordering. This precaution is in place for your safety and the safety of the team members.
Subtle, but Necessary Changes
Smaller changes became noticeable around the parks and resorts as I became more aware of the new world we are living in. Only one party is allowed in an elevator at a time. At first, I thought this could cause backups and delays. But I am here to tell you that I NEVER waited for an elevator and no one ever tried to break the rule. I felt like everyone was very respectful.
You will also see a lot of plexiglass at front desks or check out desks at shops. Nothing major, but a slight change. And while Loews hotels are still pet friendly hotels, you will not see communal dog treat canisters for everyone to reach their hands in.
Universal is almost completely cashless as well and rarely will a team member take a card from you. Instead, you will have to swipe or insert the chip yourself. Again, nothing earth shattering, but they really did take every measure they could to keep every guest safe.
If you have specific questions regarding changes at Universal in a “post(ish) Covid” world, I am happy to help you prepare for your upcoming trip by providing more insights. I can be reached at email@example.com or on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wishesfamilytravelmaggie