Today, for the first time since March 17, Universal CityWalk in Orlando opened up for guests. The shopping district of the Universal Orlando Resort open with limited food and merchandise options. We went, while following social distancing, to see what safety measures were put in place.
Universal has decided that, for now, they will open CityWalk from 4 – 10 p.m. daily. There is currently a select set of venues open and Universal is offering free parking in their main structures. Currently, valet parking is not an option.
Guests are also asked to begin wearing masks upon exiting their cars. Guests are supposed to wear masks everywhere except when dining.
Upon parking, guests are directed to the first checkpoint, a temperature screening. This screening is aimed at guest’s foreheads and does not touch them. Guests must have a temperature of or below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to continue on. If they pass, guests can continue to the standard security checks. When we arrived, a security team member was directing guests to different security points to distance parties.
We arrived right at opening at 4 p.m. Universal had performers wearing masks while playing music for guests. There were also team members stationed around to help direct guests to the currently open venues.
Even though only a few places were open, guests were allowed to walk around the entirety of CityWalk. Today, the first day of re-opening, there were five food locations open, three shopping venues and putt-putt golf. Many guests that we saw were walking around, sitting on benches and enjoying the Florida sun.
At one of the merchandise locations, the Universal Studios Store, there was a queue where guests were asked to keep distant. This line had about a three minute wait to enter.
For complete clarity in reporting, I wanted to show the queue from a different angle just a few minutes before. I do so to help you understand the true distance of guests.
Once inside, guests were allowed to free-roam the store. When ready to checkout, the queue had the above distance reminders.
At the checkout location of the Universal Studios Store was a place to get hand sanitizer and a face mask. The hand sanitizer with Universal branding was $3. The face masks were available in green camouflage or pink tie die and had no Universal branding. The face masks were sold for $6.
As expected, Voodoo Doughnut was one of the most popular locations. Along with having a remade queue to allow extra room, guests can now order Voodoo via the Universal Orlando app. The Red Oven Pizza Bakery also offers mobile ordering.
The process on the app is quite simple for the CityWalk mobile order locations. Simply pick your eatery, add items, add your credit card and contact information and checkout. And, for those wondering, they do offer speciality items like the Vegan Voodoo Doll on the app. The application will notify you when it is time to pickup your food at a dedicated mobile order location.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville was also open and offered outdoor dining. Here, guests were allowed to take off their masks. By 4:40 p.m., less than an hour after CityWalk opened, they had a two and a half hour wait to get a seat.
Guests could also go into the Margaritaville store through specific entrances. The store was laid out so it encouraged a one-way flow of traffic. Guests were not forced to walk a certain path, but having the exit on the far opposite side of the store helped.
We saw rumors that the Starbucks had opened, but confirmed it was closed today. But we heard that it should be re-opening soon.
Universal welcomed back guests today with smiling team members (well at least it looked like they were smiling under their masks). We were thanked numerous times for being patient and courteous to others. Overall it was a pretty pleasant experience for the circumstances Universal was given.
In my personal opinion, (my opinion does not necessarily reflect Attractions Magazine or its other reporters), I think Universal did a great job today. We arrived right at 4 p.m. and got in easily. We noticed ample markings about safety and the guests were actually very compliant. I never felt rushed in a store and all food handing was done with extreme care. While certainly it only takes one bad set of guests to ruin something good, from my perspective, I saw a shimmer of hope at Universal CityWalk.