The reopening of Universal Orlando shows the challenges ahead for theme parks


And just like Disneyland Shanghai in China did before May, Universal has limited the number of people allowed as well as numerous security measures against coronaviruses.

These reopenings show landscapes of uncrowded parks and could illustrate the challenges that await this summer for other amusement and theme parks. (This includes SeaWorld in Orlando on June 11 and Walt Disney World Resort on July 11 with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.)

After all, amusement and theme parks are built to thrill the crowd. Resetting an amusement park to meet the needs of social distancing during the pandemic is no small task.

And while some people may be ready to put on a mask and set off, others may still be nervous.

The big question: will people come back during the pandemic?

Will the universal experience be universal?

In a late Monday email release, Universal Orlando said, “Although we don’t share numbers about how many people use our fleet … we were able to put the measures we planned into practice: filtering of our guests and team members, social distancing, demanding facial coverings, limiting the capacity of our parks and attractions and increasing our cleaning and disinfection procedures. ”

Craig DIS, producer of The DIS Unplugged, attended the opening day on June 5. He said he was surprised at what he saw.

“Reopening day was one of the slowest days I have ever seen at Universal Orlando since I have been here,” Williams told CNN Travel.

Williams has been visiting since 2011 and is usually at major Orlando theme parks two or three days a week before the pandemic in high season.

Universal Orlando Resort in Florida reopened to the public on Friday. Customers had to have their temperature checked before entering the station.

Universal Orlando Resort

He arrived around 11:30 am to avoid the early crowd and said he was surprised to see no queues for parking, temperature controls or security checks.

“I expected a bigger crowd. I’m used to seeing big crowds for new attractions, so I thought something like reopening a theme park would have created the same excitement.

“There was certainly the idea that it was going to be very busy, but it didn’t measure up at all. “

Williams said he went to the June 3 reopening for pass holders, which was “considerably” busier on reopening day for the general public.

He said he did not see him again on Saturday or Sunday, but that the testimony he had heard indicated a smaller crowd.

And “my sister is here today [Monday], and she said the crowd level was quite small. ”

Williams speculated that with so many international flights still restricted, the numbers could also mainly reflect locals or people who didn’t have to drive too far to go.

Remote space for now

“Once in the actual course of action, social distance was constantly applied and the queues with relatively few people in them seemed much larger than they really were,” he wrote.

“Today was a very light day, like a little bit open, so I just see enough space to queue people as a problem unless the park capacity is severely limited. “

Williams said while he was surprised at the seemingly low attendance, he was a good side.

“Honestly, it seemed from the guests’ point of view to be the best scenario – no one knew how important it was going to be,” he said.

But “you don’t want to feel crowded with a lot of people” with so many health problems.

Smooth return?

The signs could indicate a slow return to the amusement parks.

In addition to Universal’s low attendance to date, DIS Unplugged conducted a Facebook survey before the Walt Disney World shopping, entertainment and dining complex, Disney Springs, opened last month. He also showed signs of a cautious audience in May.

In the poll asking 2,426 people their plans for Disney Springs, 32% of those surveyed said they planned to go. Some 51% say they are happy with the reopening but plan to stay at home. And 17% said it was just too early to reopen.

Park scenes

When Universal reopened on June 5, the masked artists on stage kept a careful distance from each other if they performed without. And the public was far from the assembly areas.

Hogsmeade, an Harry Potter-themed area in the Adventure Islands, proved popular, and there were certainly groups of people thrilled within six feet of images captured by The Dis blog on

Williams said it was one of the areas with bottlenecks, and the crowd was not able to distance themselves as well. “But this is by no means the majority of the park,” he said.

Rollercoasters such as the Incredible Hulk came out with half-filled green trains, and water rides organized parties in the same house to maintain social distance during the thrill ride.

In his Points Guy report, Kerr said that some creases still need to be resolved, including a 30-minute wait at the restaurant after he had already placed a mobile order.

One of those on the first day was Dr. Channing Willoughby, who lives near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

While wearing his mask, he told CNN, “I felt they really had a good handle on security. I am a doctor, so I continue on what is happening in the world. And in terms of preventative measures, I thought Universal was ahead of the curve, so I felt very safe to bring my family here. ”

New Guests

Extended family members from Georgia and Texas told CNN that they were already on vacation in Florida and found out about the reopening of Universal, so they came on their first visit.

Their logic? Since no guest had been there for months, the reopening day would actually be the best time to visit, rather than waiting for more crowds later.

Natasha Chen of CNN contributed to this article.

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