Universal Orlando’s reopening shows challenges ahead for theme parks
And while some folks might be ready to don a mask and get going, others might still be skittish.
The big question: Are people going return during the pandemic?
Will the Universal experience be universal?
In an email statement late Monday afternoon, Universal Orlando said “while we don’t share numbers on our park attendance … we were able to put in practice the measures we have been planning: screening our guests and team members, social distancing, requiring facial coverings, limiting capacity at our parks and attractions and increasing our cleaning and disinfection procedures.”
Williams has been visiting since 2011 and could typically be found in major Orlando theme parks two or three days a week before the pandemic in peak season.
Universal Orlando Resort in Florida reopened to the public on Friday. Guests had to get their temperatures checked before entering the resort.
Universal Orlando Resort
He arrived around 11:30 a.m. to avoid the early crowd and said he was surprised to see no lines for parking, temperature checks or security checks.
“I was expecting a bigger crowd. I am used to seeing big crowds for new attractions, so I thought something like the reopening of a theme park would have created the same excitement.
“There was definitely the idea it was going to be very busy, but it didn’t live up to that at all.”
Williams said he went to June 3 soft reopen for passholders that was “significantly” busier the reopening day for the general public.
He said he didn’t revisit on Saturday or Sunday but said the accounts he’s heard point to smaller crowds.
And “my sister there’s today [Monday], and she said the crowd level is pretty small.”
Williams speculated that with so much international flying still restricted, the numbers could also reflect mostly locals or people who didn’t have to drive too far to go.
Space to distance for now
“Once in the actual ride line, social distancing was constantly enforced and queues with relatively few people in them looked much larger than they really were,” he wrote.
“Today was a very light crowd day as a bit of a soft open, so I see simply having enough space to queue people up as becoming a problem unless park capacity is severely limited.”
Williams pointed out while he was surprised at the seemingly low attendance, he was a good side to it.
“Honestly, it seemed from a guest perspective to be the best-case scenario — no one knew how big it was going to be,” he said.
But “you don’t want to feel crowded around a lot of people” with so many health concerns remaining.
Easing back in?
Signs could be pointing to a slow return to amusement parks.
In the poll asking 2,426 people their plans regarding Disney Springs, 32% of respondents said they planned to go. Some 51% said they were glad to hear of the reopening but planned to stay home. And 17% said it was simply too soon to reopen.
Scenes from the park
During the June 5 reopening at Universal, stage masked performers kept a careful distance from each other if performing without one. And audiences were well away from the staging areas.
Williams said this was one of areas with bottlenecks, and the crowds were not able to distance as well at those. “But that’s not the majority of the park by any means,” he said.
Roller coasters such as the Incredible Hulk went out with half-filled green trains and water rides carried same-household parties to maintain social distancing during the thrill ride.
In his Points Guy report, Kerr said some kinks still needed to be ironed out, including a 30-minute restaurant wait when he had already placed a mobile order.
One of the people there for the first day was Dr. Channing Willoughby, who lives near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
While wearing his mask, he told CNN: “I felt that they really had a good handle on safety. I’m a physician, so I keep up on what’s happening in the world. And in terms of preventative measures, I thought Universal was ahead of the curve, so I felt very safe bringing my family here.”
Members of an extended family from Georgia and Texas told CNN they were on vacation in Florida already and found out about Universal reopening, so they came for their first visit ever.
Their logic? Since no guests had been there for months, reopening day would actually be the best time to visit, rather than waiting for larger crowds later.
CNN’s Natasha Chen contributed to this article.
rss.cnn.com 2020-06-08 23:31:59