by Tarah Chieffi
Even before Universal Orlando’s theme parks reopened to the public on June 5, guests have been able to shop, eat, and play in the shadow of the park’s massive coasters. CityWalk, Universal’s entertainment and retail district, welcomed guests back on May 14 – the first step in Universal’s phased reopening. Below are some things you should know before dining at Universal during coronavirus.
“Things are going to feel a little different, and I encourage everyone to become well-versed in our updated operational guidelines, but know that everyone at Universal Orlando is looking forward to having you back,” Universal Orlando president Bill Davis wrote in a recent letter to guests. Whether you’re planning a day at the parks or just want to pop over for a cocktail or bite to eat, you’ll need to know about Universal’s new COVID-specific safety precautions to prepare for your visit.
Universal is focusing on a three-pronged approach they call “the three Ss” – screening, sanitization, and spacing. Before entering a hotel, theme park, or CityWalk, an attendant with gloves and a face mask will take your temperature with a no-touch forehead thermometer. As long as your temperature is under 100.4, you will be given a colored wristband and permitted entry.
They’ve also upped their cleaning game. Universal’s senior vice president of food and beverage for parks, Mandy Bond, said in a recent interview on the Universal blog that, “Sanitizing includes looking at our already aggressive cleaning processes for all of our restaurants and based on CDC guidelines, increasing our frequency. It’s not just wiping the table down when someone leaves, we’re constantly wiping every surface that our guests touch.” To cut down on what guests are touching, they’ve made mobile menus and mobile ordering available for many dining locations through their app. Getting your Voodoo Doughnut fix has never been easier!
Sanitization extends to guests sanitizing their hands, as well. Most restaurants, especially the ones inside the theme parks, have a hand sanitizing station inside the door and you are required to cleanse your hands upon entry. It’s a good idea to keep a small bottle with you, though, so you can use it whenever you feel like you need it.
Face masks are another requirement for entry to the resort, but Universal has arranged restaurant tables and other seating areas to keep guests at least 6-feet apart, so you can remove them once you are seated at your table. Your server will come by with a small bag to safely hold your masks while you eat. If you don’t have a face mask (or just need an excuse to pick up a new one), there are some really fun designs available throughout the resort. All Team Members are required to wear a mask, as well.
To enforce social distancing, Universal has installed floor markings in queue and anywhere else where crowds may gather. Ample signage reminds guests to keep a six-foot distance and also denotes tables and other areas that are closed off to help guests maintain the appropriate distance. Capacity limits have also been lowered to keep crowd levels easy to manage.
Reservations are not required to enter CityWalk or dine at Universal’s hotels, but some restaurants are still accepting reservations if you want to guarantee a spot. Hours and offerings may be limited, so come prepared to be patient and flexible.
It may seem like all of these changes would hinder the enjoyment of dining out, but the entertaining atmosphere (some locations still have live music!), good food and friendly faces (yes, even behind those masks) are what you will remember about your next meal at Universal.
For more tips on eating in Orlando during coronavirus, click here.
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