Universal Orlando's reopening date is two weeks away.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
May 21, 2020
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Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Universal Orlando has officially set a reopening date after closing indefinitely in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic: June 1.

Universal Orlando's plans to reopen have been approved by Governor DeSantis after Thursday's virtual meeting of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force (OCERTF) when John Sprouls, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Universal Parks and Resorts, unveiled the reopening proposal.

The Universal Orlando theme parks — Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay — will reopen to the public on June 5 after beginning a phased reopening on June 1 and 2 for its own team members, followed by a limited opening for invited guests on June 3 and 4. This gradual reopening will allow Universal Orlando to test and vet all the new health and safety procedures in a controlled environment before guests arrive, according to Sprouls's proposal.

According to a statement shared with Travel + Leisure, "the new health, safety and hygiene procedures will cover each step of a guest’s visit: how they arrive, how they interact with other guests, how they experience attractions, rides, and shows and how they have meals."

Tom Williams, chairman and chief executive officer for Universal Parks & Resorts, said in a statement, “We have put new health and safety procedures in place for both our team members and guests.  And we have worked hard to make sure our guests can enjoy their time with family and friends.  Doing this the right way will take all of us — and we need everyone’s help.  Guests should follow our guidelines and continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and health officials.”

Screening, spacing, and sanitization are the main focuses of Universal Orlando's new procedures. Park guests and employees are required to wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines, and everyone will be required to have their temperature checked before entering — people with temperatures of 100.4 or greater will not be allowed to enter the resort.

According to the statement, other health and safety measures will include:

  • Staggered parking
  • Managed and reduced daily park attendance
  • Managed and reduced attraction ridership, show attendance, and restaurant seating (with some events closed for now)
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection of food locations, ride vehicles, restrooms, and frequent touch-points
  • Social distancing practices throughout the parks, within attractions and queues, and at restaurants
  • Use of virtual lines at select attractions
  • Cashless payments and “no touch” policies where possible

Starting June 2, select Universal Orlando Resort hotels will also reopen to guests. That list includes the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites. Guests staying on these properties will be able to visit the theme parks on June 3 and 4, ahead of the public opening on June 5.

A range of new health and safety procedures will be implemented at the hotels as well. For example, visitors and employees will be required to wear face coverings in public areas, and both guests and staff members will undergo temperature checks upon arrival (staff with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be allowed to work, and guests with the same results will need medical clearance to enter). High-touch areas such as telephones, remote controls, door handles, light switches, tabletops, and elevators, will be subject to frequent cleaning, and guest rooms, meeting rooms, and public areas will be sanitized with an EPA-approved cleaner and disinfectant.

In addition to reminders of social distancing requirements in high-traffic areas, guests can also expect hand sanitizer stations in public spots and near elevators, as well as touchless experiences such as hotel texting services, express checkout, and contactless room deliveries. These are just a few of the new protocols that will be in place.

Overall, it has been an exciting week for theme park fans eager to get back to their favorite attractions.

This comes just days after Universal Orlando partially reopened CityWalk, a dining, shopping, and entertainment complex adjacent to the theme parks. For this partial reopening, the park added a number of health and safety measures, including temperature screenings, required face coverings, and social distancing guidelines.

Walt Disney World has not yet revealed plans to reopen beyond the partial reopening of Disney Springs, which started this week.