As our Florida theme parks begin to reopen, operating procedures have been scrutinized, adjusted and fine tuned to meet the health and safety concerns of protecting staff and visitors alike. Much of what a visitor is used to has remained, but guidelines and additional procedures have been added to comply with CDC recommendations. This, of course, changes our theme park normal. Universal Orlando Resort will be the first major theme park to open their gates. Let's take a look at what guests can expect in regards to new safety and health guidelines, social distancing and touchless transactions.
Changes begin right at the beginning, in the parking garages. In order to create distance between travel groups, parking is being staggered. This is an easy way to social distance groups which also naturally staggers the arrival to the first checkpoint which is temperature check and instructions to put on your face covering, if you haven't already done so.
Signage is clear and present!
At the entrance to each park and CityWalk, spieling team members bring a little levity to brighten the mood and remind guests of the required face coverings while visiting, social distancing guidelines within the parks and attractions, hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer. By the time guests have reached the entrance plaza of either park, they are fully aware of the new expectations and guidelines.
In case you might have missed it, a face covering is REQUIRED! Not going to sugar-coat this one - it's annoying, it adds nothing to any fashion statement one might be trying to make, there is a whole new biosphere going on between the nose and chin (think rain forest), it adds a new level of discomfort with the summer heat and humidity and darn it, how many times will you go to take a sip from your water bottle only to have your attempt thwarted. For now, this is what is needed to have the parks open. Embrace it, work with it, figure out what is best for you and your family and enjoy.
What about character greetings, you ask? They are still happening, but have a different approach, so to speak.
When it comes to meeting a favorite character, changes have been made to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Guests will interact with their favorite character from a healthy distance.
Characters are positioned on a raised platform, which is cordon off by at least 6 feet from guests. This allows for interaction and an awesome photo op, but at a safe distance.
Need to Know Essentials
Staggered car parking.
Face covering is required, except when
eating and drinking.
Social distancing throughout the parks.
At select locations, guests will be required to use
hand sanitizer prior to boarding ride vehicles.
Capacity will be limited throughout all attractions, restaurants and shops.
You will utilize the Official Universal Orlando Resort App
for mobile food and drink ordering,
purchasing park tickets for touchless entry,
and setting up TapTu Pay for Volcano Bay.
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Let's be honest here. Who among us doesn't like a frightfully, good scare? Ummm, me! I'm more of a Mickey's Not So Scary than a Halloween Horror or Howl-O-Scream kind of a gal so I sent Bill (hubs) and Emily (daughter) to check these ghoulish events out for me!
At first glance, you might think that both events are the same but Howl-O-Scream and Halloween Horror Nights offer vastly different experiences!
Busch Gardens Insomnia House was a favorite! Emily says, "there is a room inside this house that the walls move and the characters within the house interact with the guests!" A totally different experience than what you might expect.
At Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Night there were a couple of stand-out houses! The Trick 'r Treat house was a favorite because it felt most like Halloween, if that makes sense. I think you need to experience it to fully understand! The Horrors of Blumhouse was interesting because it combines two hit films, Happy Death Days and The First Purge, which makes a nice contrast. It's like you get two houses in one!
Both Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream have Scare Zones, but they are slightly different in how they operate. Halloween Horror Nights has specific areas throughout the park as Scare Zones. The borders of these Scare Zones are defined. You walk in and out of them. At Howl-O-Scream, the entire park is a Scare Zone! There are roaming hordes, character interactions and engagement and characters "stalking" you in queue lines and on the rides. Don't be scared when you see your coaster riding buddy is a ghoulish monster!
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