We have some exciting news for Universal Orlando fans! Universal Orlando is the first theme park destination in Orlando to reopen. They opened Universal CityWalk in phase one of the Universal Orlando reopening on May 14. The Jones Family was so excited to be there! 🥳
As regulars to Universal Orlando Resort it was a bit different, but still a lot of fun. I am going to share a few of the top things that are different for the Universal Orlando reopening.
Universal Orlando Reopening
What is Open?
For the Universal Orlando reopening, they opened Universal CityWalk from 4 PM-10 PM.
There are only a few locations at CityWalk that are open. These include:
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
- Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
- Red Oven Pizza Bakery
- Voodoo Doughnut
- Auntie Anne’s
- Outdoor Shopping Kiosks
- Outdoor Hair Braiding
- Universal Store
- Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company store only
- Hollywood Drive-In Golf
Before You Go to Universal Orlando
Before we hopped into the car to visit CityWalk, we pulled up the guidelines on the Universal Orlando website. Universal did have several guidelines that would affect our visit.
One of the big guidelines is masks. You must wear a mask during your visit to Universal Orlando.
You can either bring your own mask or purchase one at Universal CityWalk (at cost). On opening day, I did not see anyone without a mask. It looked like the locals visiting knew the requirement and came prepared.
I wore a paper mask and my daughter had a cloth mask. On this day, the temperature at 4 PM was 82 degrees. We had a little bit of a breeze, but it was still hot. The masks were hot and uncomfortable, but do-able.
With the Florida heat, the paper mask is much cooler. The cloth masks are thicker and are much hotter. This is certainly something to keep in mind for future visits to our Orlando Parks.
Universal Orlando did recommend social distancing throughout CityWalk. They even provided Floor Markings in areas that may cause clusters of people. This included security, temperature checks, restaurants, and stores.
They also recommend washing your hands as much as possible for at least 20 seconds. You remember your mom telling you to sing the “Happy Birthday” song while you wash your hands. This really should not be a reminder, you should be doing that already. 😉
Universal Orlando Reopening Differences
You can read the details in the blog post or watch our video on YouTube. We share 12 Universal Orlando reopening differences and a few extra tips and fun.
There are a lot of things that are different for the Universal Orlando reopening. Let’s jump into some of the changes at Universal Orlando for the reopening.
During phase one of the reopening of Universal Orlando there is free parking and no valet. It is a little confusing, because the dots at the top of the booths are red vs green. A lot of cars slowed down and were not sure if they should go through the toll booth. That was a little confusing.
As we went through, we did see team members waving us through to the parking lot.
One of the first noticeable changes at Universal Orlando was parking. The Universal team members had us park in every other spot. This left plenty of space for social distancing on each side of your car to exit. This thought never crossed my mind, so kudos to Universal Orlando for thinking of social distancing at the parking lot.
We watched the team members and they did fill up those empty spaces about 15 minutes later with a new batch of cars.
As we left the parking lot, we saw a line of people. There were blue signs on the ground (about 6 feet apart). They included 6 feet and 2 meters (for those international guests) on the signs. Universal Orlando does attract a lot of international guests, so having the signs with 2 meters will help everyone understand the proper social distancing.
This first line was a temperature check. The team member asked if it was okay that we get temperature tested. The temperature tester was held close to our heads, but did not touch the skin. This line did go rather quickly.
One of our favorite ways to pay for food at Universal Orlando is with Mobile Ordering. This is always a huge timesaver at Universal Parks. Here is a link to more Universal Orlando Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for a Universal Orlando vacation.
For the reopening at Universal CityWalk, many of the food locations had Mobile Ordering. You can download the Universal Orlando app to your smartphone. You can then order your food or drinks. Once your food is ready, you stop by the food location and pick it up.
During our visit to Universal CityWalk, we did use Mobile Order at Voodoo Doughnuts. It saves time and is a great cashless option.
Universal Orlando also takes Apple and Google Pay, if you prefer to pay with those methods. They do still take credit/debit cards, too.
As we walked into Universal CityWalk, two team members were welcoming everyone and going over the guidelines. They were reminding everyone about social distancing, masks, and hand washing procedures.
Sit Down Dining
During our visit to Universal Orlando, we dined at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. It was a 2 ½ hour wait. They did not take reservations. It is a walk up reservation. They had outdoor seating at the restaurant and at the bar. All seating was limited to only 25% capacity.
The tables were really spread out, so you were 6 feet or farther from other tables. It was a little sad, because the restaurant just looked empty.
There were a lot of changes in regards to dining.
Our server did wear a mask and approached us from one side of the table. He told us that he will be only at this one side of the table. He would serve drinks, runners deliver food, and pick up food only from that one side of the table. This eliminated any leaning over customers.
Almost everything was disposable, including the menu. We could keep the menu as a souvenir or they would just throw it away.
He also mentioned the dining experience would take longer, since he had to wash his hands every time he interacted with a customer. If he touched a credit card, he had to wash his hands. If he got close to a customer, he had to wash his hands. He was correct. Even with the limited capacity, our dining experience did take much longer than normal.
Once we sat down at our table, we received (2) Universal Orlando bags to remove our face mask and store during our meal. I thought that was a nice touch and something I did not even consider.
At the end of our meal, the payment was interesting. Instead of bringing us the bill, giving him the credit card, and then signing for the tip. They eliminated a step. When he brought the bill, I went ahead and added the tip and signed my name. Then he would charge the credit card and bring me the receipt. They just eliminated a step.
We enjoyed our dining experience. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville did have live music. We enjoyed the music as we watched the sunset over CityWalk.
A huge difference was the signage. There were signs everywhere reminding us of social distancing and the Universal Orlando guidelines.
We saw signs in the bathroom, in the stores, outside, by security, etc. They were everywhere. Just friendly reminders of the guidelines.
Universal Orlando did limit capacity to CityWalk for the phase one opening. This included restaurants and stores. The Universal Store was open for souvenir shopping, including our favorite Harry Potter merchandise. They did have one direction for entrance into the store and one direction for exit. There were team members at each location to direct customers.
At Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville store, there was only one entrance. You also wandered the store in only one direction. You walked towards the back of the store to exit. It was very simple. Of course, you would miss a few things in the store only walking towards the back. At least we got to do a little shopping at Universal CityWalk.
Team Members Wiping Everything
You normally will see team members cleaning, but Universal Orlando bumped it up. In every direction, you would see a team member sanitizing down something. It could be surfaces, handrails, doors, handles, etc. They were cleaning everything!
As we walked in and out of Universal Orlando, we noticed the escalators were down. We think they were turned off on purchase to eliminate people from touching the hand rails. We saw a lot of team members (one on either side) wiping down the handrails.
Hollywood Drive-In Golf
The mini golf was open for part of the Universal Orlando reopening. All of the golf clubs and balls are handed to customers. If a customer touches a golf club and then changes their mind, the team member takes the club back and sanitizes it. All of the balls are sanitized at the end of the night.
The golfers are also notified about social distancing during the games. Universal even has team members walking the course to make sure everyone keeps their distance.
Even with all of the rules, there were a steady stream of players and lots of family fun.
Universal Orlando did a great job. I felt completely safe and cannot wait for the full Universal Orlando reopening. We have been told by Universal that they are still hoping for a June 1 opening. Keeping our fingers crossed.
Live Stream from Universal Orlando on Reopening Day
You can check out the video below. This was our live stream from reopening day at Universal Orlando. Are you ready to visit Universal Orlando?
Are you ready to visit Universal Orlando?