Universal Gets the OK from Ron DeSantis and is Set to Reopen

After getting a myriad of approvals with a comprehensive plan, Universal Studios plans to reopen its theme parks to the public on June 5, with small test runs of private groups beginning June 1.

“We want to invite guests back to our theme parks in a cautious and thoughtful way,” said Tom Williams, the chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts.  “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.”

Universal has done a great deal of planning in advance of presenting its plan. It first sought to get the approval of Orange County’s task force focused on reopening, getting a unanimous vote from that group and the support of Orange Mayor County Jerry Demings and the approval of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Each guest that attends Universal will be required to wear a mask although how strictly that will be enforced once guests are inside the park remains to be seen. Hand sanitizers will be available at the entrance and the exit of all attractions and venues. However, kids areas where social distancing cannot be guaranteed will be closed. Guests will not wait in normal lines and instead will use virtual lines like what are used at Volcano Bay, Universal’s water park.

Universal CAO John Sprawls said his team will encourage people to pay for food and merchandise virtually as much as possible. Universal also has an app that customers can load with money and spend it throughout the day.

“We are not going to refuse to accept cash, but we are going to try and minimize it as much as possible, and where there are places where we are going to accept cash, we are going to put in additional precautions where necessary to make sure we can safeguard both guests and team members,” Sprawls said.

Universal staff will have some restrictions, including getting their temperatures checked each day. They will also not be allowed to park next to other cast members. Each parking lot will have an empty space between cars. Universal team members will be required to wash their hands every 30 minutes while on duty and will be required to wear masks.

Now that it has been approved to reopen, Universal will move slowly to open the parks. There will be trail runs on June 1 and 2 when certain team members will be brought into the park to test the systems Universal has put in place. On June 3 and June 4, select pass holders will be invited to the park to test the measures. On June 5, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay will reopen to the public with a significant reduction in overall capacity.


Reach Mike Synan at mike.synan@floridadaily.com.

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