Universal Orlando Resort: What to Know Before You Go
Today Magical Travel Queen is going to head across town to check out how Universal Orlando Resort is handling reopening. Things may look different, but no need to fear, Universal is still providing all the thrills to returning guests.
Safety Protocols: Universal has worked with health experts to ensure that guests are as safe as they can be. Several protocols have been put in place such as additional handwashing and hand sanitizer stations and social distancing markers throughout the park. Cast members are doing extra cleaning of attractions, railings and all touch points. Plexiglass barriers have also been put up in locations when social distancing may not be possible. Cashless payments are available (and encouraged) at all locations.
Masks are required for all guests aged 3 and over. Relaxation stations are located in each park where guests can rest, while socially distanced, and take a break from their masks. Guests can also temporarily remove masks to eat and drink.
Guests will be required to have their temperatures taken prior to entering the City Walk/theme park area. Guests with a reading of 100.4 degrees or more will be denied entry.
Theme Parks: Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are open for all guests. Hours vary by day so be sure to check the Universal website for the latest updates.
One of the biggest changes since reopening is the addition of Virtual Lines on many Universal attractions. This system allows guests to select a time for select attractions on the Universal app and then return later to ride. The system generates a QR code for guests to scan upon their return.
The list can change daily depending on operational needs but these attractions are potentially available:
Universal Studios: Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, Revenge of the Mummy, Fast & Furious: Supercharged and Harry Potter and Escape from Gringotts.
Islands of Adventure: Skull Island – Reign of Kong, Pteranodon Flyers, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventures.
QR Code signs are also available at the entrance to attractions that are offering it.
You do need to be on Universal property to get a Virtual Line spot, but you don’t need to be actually in a theme park. Be sure to try as soon as possible, especially for newer attractions like Hagrid’s MotorBike since spots go quickly. Keep checking the app throughout the day for any options that may have opened or released more availability.
Experiences such as character interaction and parades have also undergone some changes. Characters are still out and meetings guests, but all interactions will now be done 6 feet safely apart. Entertainment, like the Frog Choir, are performing, but will be masked. Shows such as Fear Factor Live and The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts are currently suspended. Parades are also suspended, but the floats are being used for random character visits. These are random and offering some great interaction for guests.
Volcano Bay: As of November 2nd, Volcano Bay will be closed until approximately March 1, 2021. This will allow park operations to perform required maintenance on the attractions.
City Walk: Universal’s shopping and entertainment district, City Walk, is back and ready for guests. Not all locations are open yet, but many of the restaurants and retail spots are available. Hours and days may vary, so be sure to check the current availability when on site. City Walk is typically open later than the theme parks, which may make them seem crowded. All social distancing measures are in place at City Walk.
Resort Locations: Universal has several resort options available for guests looking to stay onsite. The new Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites is a fantastic budget friendly option, especially for larger groups. Cabana Bay Resort, with its guest favorite lazy river, is also open for guests who are looking to be a bit closer to the parks. For travelers looking for a bit more luxury and more amenities, both Royal Pacific Resort and the Hard Rock Resort are options that also have the additional perk of the Universal Unlimited Express Pass included in the price of the room.
Universal’s other resorts have either not yet opened or shut down again due to operational need. The second side of the Endless Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites is still waiting to have its grand opening. Portofino Bay Resort, Universal’s flagship resort, has not reopened and does not currently have a reopening date. In late September, Universal made the decision to shut down both Sapphire Falls and Aventura resorts. Reopening plans have yet to be announced.
Guests staying at a Universal resort will have their temperatures taken at their resort on a daily basis. Once cleared, they will be given a colored wrist band to wear and not be required to be rechecked that day. The color changes daily so be sure to get one a new one before headed out.
Universal is trying to leave ample time and perform a deep cleaning between guests in each room. Daily housekeeping is currently suspended, but guests can contact the front desk for anything they may need during their stay.
Not all services are open at each resort, so be sure to check with the front desk upon arrival, if looking for something specific.
Dining: Another change with reopening is with dining. While many locations have reopened, not all have. Dining at closed resorts also remain closed and even at resorts that have opened, not all options are currently available. Some locations in the theme parks may also operate on limited days or hours, so be sure to check the Universal app for specifics when you arrive.
Many of the City Walk locations, both quick service and table service, are open for business, with many of them offering outdoor dining. Guest favorites such as Toothsome Emporium, Margaritaville and more ready with great food and drinks.
At table service locations, guests will also notice that menus are now either single use paper versions, use the Universal app or that they may need to scan a QR Code to the view menu on their smartphones. At Quick Service locations, Mobile Ordering is definitely encouraged as the way to go. As more people utilize this service, don’t forget to set up a credit card in the app and place your order early. At the current time, The Universal Dining Plan cannot be used for mobile ordering.
Transportation: There are also some changes to transportation as well. Depending on when guests visit, not all services will be running from all the resorts. Social distancing measures are in place on both the boats and the buses.
How to visit: Vacation packages, room only reservations and ticket sales are open guests who wish to visit in 2020 and 2021 With capacity limits in place for both the parks and resorts, planning early will give guests the best options. Universal is currently offering several great promotions for those wishing to travel or save some money on holiday travel/experience gifts.
With all the changes that have taken place and will probably be taking place in the near future, working with a travel planner is more beneficial to guests than ever. I work with each client to ensure that they have all the information they need for the most relaxing and least stressful vacation, especially in these uncertain times.
Not everyone is comfortable traveling now but when you are ready, Universal Orlando Resort is making every effort to keep you safe. Things do look a bit different in the “new normal”, but there are thrills to be found. Let’s make some memories!