If you are within travelling distance of Orlando or aching for some good ol’ fashioned themed entertainment, you’ll be elated to hear that Universal Orlando’s CityWalk plans to shine a glimmer of a spotlight on this awfully dark time of isolation. Sure, CityWalk may not necessarily be the E-ticket attraction we thrill-seekers were exactly hoping for, but, it is a start. Modest, though it may be. After all, the Orlando theme parks have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning May 14th, 2020 roughly a half-dozen restaurants and eateries, as well as two retail shops and select merchandise carts will re-open at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. This re-opening will include limited operations, menus, and new guidelines. The procedures will comprise of a laundry list of precautionary measures, including screening guests and team members. Mandating face coverings and social distancing will also be employed throughout the entire property. In addition, venues have strategically arranged tables and seating so that guests may remove their face coverings while they eat. However, restaurants will have a limited menu and seating available.

Needless to say, the experience of promenading through the promenade will be a little bittersweet taste of our not-so-temporary new normal for theme park fans. We are likely to see other theme parks follow suit by implementing similar safety measures.

Universal Official Statement:

We will begin limited operation of select venues at Universal Orlando‘s CityWalk on Thursday, May 14 as we take the first steps toward reopening our destination. The health and safety of our guests and team members remains our top priority and we are taking specific measures that include screening our guests and team members, social distancing and requiring everyone to wear a face covering. We will also be limiting capacity at venues and increasing our already-aggressive cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Along with limiting capacity and hours of operation, there will be additional signage peppered throughout Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. This will help further reinforce the proper practice of social distancing.

Universal will also be encouraging guests to use mobile ordering for Red Oven and Voodoo Doughnut through the official Universal Orlando app. More details are available on Universal’s website.

Universal’s recently released additional details regarding their efforts to maintain a hygienic atmosphere:

  • All Team Members are undergoing temperature checks and will wear face coverings. Team Members with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be permitted to work.
  • Limiting capacity at venues to help enforce social distancing. We’ve also placed signage throughout CityWalk to help you follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Continuously and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all tables, chairs and high-touch surfaces
  • Offering cashless payments at all venues

If you are venturing out to Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, while you may be able to take advantage of their temporary complimentary self-parking throughout this reopening phase, please remember to exercise caution at all times. Any guest that has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be permitted to enter Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. In addition, Universal will request that said guest see a doctor, per CDC guidelines. In other words, it may be in your best interest to triple-check yourself before you make the trip!

Universal Official Statement:

Please note the CDC advises that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Guests should evaluate their risk in determining whether to visit. People who show no symptoms can spread COVID-19 if they are infected, any interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to COVID-19, and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit.

Universal will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed. Additional venues may also be added over time, and hours of operation are subject to change.

While Universal Orlando’s CityWalk partial re-opening may be a small sign of better days to come, greater speculation may be found in Universal Orlando's recent extensive survey regarding potential reopening plans for the parks themselves. This survey presents various hypothetical scenarios that future visitors may face, including limited capacity and the prospect of only one park being open at a time. Naturally, Universal Orlando, along with the entire theme park industry, is looking to assess how comfortable fans will be returning to the parks, how soon they plan to return, and under what specific conditions.

Conjecture or not, Universal Orlando’s theme parks and hotels will remain closed through at least May 31, 2020. Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk Hollywood also remain closed at this time.

As more states continue to loosen their stay-at-home orders and regenerate their local economies post-lockdown, tourist attractions are likely to continue to open their gates, slowly but surely. Be sure to check back for further developments.