ORLANDO, Fla. – For the first time since mid-March, Universal Orlando’s theme parks are open to the public.
The coronavirus pandemic caused Universal to temporarily shut down Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay water park to prevent the spread of the virus.
The coasters were back on Friday and visitors eager to spend some time in the parks were back. Although Universal said it would limit capacity in the parks, attractions and shops, the first day of reopening was light.
Universal has previously sketched various health and safety measures that would be the case when the parks reopened. Visitors must undergo temperature checks and wear a face mask to access.
On Friday, temperature checks went fast, with most visitors spending less than a minute in line. The lines to enter the parks were minimal, even with ground markings keeping everyone at bay.
The busiest parts of the parks were both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with many trying to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. The attraction, like many other attractions, uses Universal’s virtual line system. Visitors must obtain a virtual pass through the Universal Orlando mobile app to drive. As expected, the virtual passes went fast, but Universal employees said more are being added all day.
Elsewhere, coasters and other attractions walked with empty rows and empty seats while Universal was spaced groups to maintain social distance. Riders get hand disinfection before boarding and employees hand out 3D glasses at the rides they use.
Employees can be seen cleaning and wiping areas of high contact. Hand sanitizer dispensers are located in restaurants, outside the entrances to attractions and in parks.
Pass holders and hotel guests were among the first to experience the new measures in the parks. Kept universally previews on Wednesday and Thursday, prior to the official reopening.
As Universal Orlando becomes the first major central Florida amusement park to reopen, others get it ready to welcome back visitors. SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove will reopen to the public on June 11. Visitors must make a reservation in advance to visit the parks. Meanwhile, Disney World reopens its parks in stages. Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will reopen on July 11, followed by Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.