Universal Orlando Resort Hotels Reopen, Huzzah!

If the title of this article (and subheading) didn’t give it away, Universal Orlando Resort Hotels will be reopening on June 2nd, 2020, including Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Aventura Hotel and Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites are TBA. As avid thrill enthusiasts may remember, Dockside was set for a grand opening on March 17th, 2020. Unfortunately, this highly anticipated celebratory premiere was delayed due to the pandemic. And ever since, Universal has (along with many theme parks worldwide) been brainstorming ways to reopen a safer, cleaner, virus-free park. Or, at least something like that.

While the Universal Orlando parks may not reopen to the general public until June 5th, 2020, all guests staying at one of the reopening Universal Orlando hotels will be granted access to the parks on June 3rd, 2020 and June 4th, 2020  throughout the passholder soft openings.

Despite the fact that capacity will be cautiously limited at the parks, Universal has confirmed that guests staying at the hotels will be guaranteed entry to the parks even if capacity limits mean that they are forced to close to outside visitors.

As one may have come to expect by now, guests must wear a mask to enter the hotels and parks, as well as pass a mandatory temperature check. However, it is not all a one-sided effort. In fact, most of the emphasis has been put on the hotels.

Universal Orlando Resort’s New and Enhanced Health, Safety and Hygiene Procedures

  • Guests, team members and vendors are required to wear face coverings in public areas.
  • Team members and vendors will be required to have temperature checks upon arrival.  Those with temperatures of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be allowed to work.
  • Guests will be asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and comply with quarantine orders prior to arrival.
  • Guest will have temperature checks upon arrival and anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will require medical clearance in order to enter the hotel.
  • Hand sanitiser stations in public areas and elevator landings
  • Enhanced cleaning of guest rooms, meeting rooms and public areas with an EPA-approved cleaner and disinfectant.
  • Frequent cleaning of high-touch areas such as telephones, remote controls, door handles, light switches, elevators, and table tops, among others.
  • Food and beverage outlet capacities are limited based on the latest recommendations and guidelines.
  • Social distancing signs and reminders of social distancing requirements in high-traffic areas.
  • Several contactless experiences for guests, including hotel texting services, express checkout and contactless room deliveries.
  • Universal CityWalk is now open with select venues and the three theme parks – Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay – will reopen to the public beginning June 5th, 2020 with limited attendance and stringent new health, safety and hygiene procedures in place.

How About The Other Parks, Huh?

While Universal takes centre stage, it should be noted that Legoland Florida Resort beat everyone to the metaphorical punch and reopened today (June 1st, 2020), as SeaWorld Orlando charts its grand return on June 11th, 2020.

Additionally, Hersheypark recently announced that they have intentions of resurrecting in July, pending approval from state authorities. One can imagine that they are most anxious to reopen, as the much-awaited new Candymonium roller coaster waits in the wings.

On the other coast, Legoland California has applied to reopen on July 1st, 2020, as San Diego County is beginning to move into Stage 3. Much akin to its sister parks, SeaWorld San Diego was prepping for some exciting debuts, including Emperor, the new B&M dive coaster.

Outside the US, Grupo Xcaret is reopening its Xcaret Park and Hotel Xcaret Mexico on June 15th, 2020, as Europa-Park reopens in Germany with extensive health and safety guidelines, which are explained in a video demonstrating the ‘new normal’ amid COVID-19.

No Screaming Rule

Meanwhile, Japanese theme park associations have released new guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus upon reopening, also suggesting a ‘no screaming rule on roller coasters.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has lifted the nationwide state of emergency. As a result, The East Japan and West Japan Theme Park Associations have prepared a document entitled ‘Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of Infection of the Novel Coronavirus’, which includes staff refraining from hugging and other physical contact with guests, urging guests to them to refrain from shouting/screaming” on coasters, as well as, ‘refrain from shouting/screaming’ at indoor attractions and character shows.

It is evident that the theme park industry is jumping through hoops to reopen a safe space. Whether these precautions are successful and/or sustainable, remains to be seen.