A First Look at Returning to the Universal Orlando Resort During a Pandemic
Nine months into the Pandemic of 2020 has so many of us restless for normalcy in any way we can get it. As a professional travel advisor, staying home for so many months is definitely not the norm for me.
We all need something to look forward to.
For me, I didn’t realize how much Covid-19 was affecting me and how much I needed this trip until I was there.
My journey began at Detroit Metro Airport.
- Masks are required throughout the airport.
- Travelers are encouraged to socially distance themselves throughout the terminal.
- TSA is currently permitting a larger bottle of hand sanitizer for each passenger in addition to the regular liquids allowances.
I had a direct flight from Detroit to Orlando on Delta, and I was very pleased with Delta’s health and safety measures.
- After pre-boarding and boarding First Class, the flight was boarded from the rear of the plane forward. This reduced the number of passengers coming into contact with each other and sped up the boarding process. (Comfort+ passengers who would normally board after First Class did not receive priority boarding).
- Passengers were required to wear a mask for the duration of the flight except when actively eating or drinking.
- The middle seats have been kept empty except for families traveling together. (This policy is set to expire in early December)
- I was seated in Comfort+ for extra room to work and relax. Passengers in Comfort+ (who would normally receive snacks and beverages) received a pre-packed bag with a small bottle of water, two snacks, and hand sanitizer.
- Because middle seats are not being utilized, there was plenty of room for everyone’s carry-on luggage.
Upon my arrival in Orlando, I easily Ubered over to Universal’s new Endless Summer Resort: Surfside Inn and Suites.
- Guests are temperature screened and given a daily wristband at the entrance to the lobby. The wristband color changes daily and is used at each of Universal’s resort hotels.
- Guests are asked to use hand sanitizer when entering any public space, and social distancing is required.
- Our room was clean and bright. Even the television remote had been sanitized and placed in a baggie.
- To limit contact, housekeeping does not enter your room during your stay.
Other health and safety measures:
- Transportation between the Universal resorts and parks utilizes assigned seating to keep each party separate, and some resorts are within walking distance to the parks and Universal City Walk.
- Parks are currently operating at reduced capacity to help control crowd flow.
- Throughout the parks, floor markings help guests adhere to the 6’ social distancing policy.
- Masks are required everywhere unless you are seated and eating or drinking or are in a designated mask-free rest zone. (There are 3 rest areas in each park).
- Every guest receives a healthy pump of hand sanitizer prior to boarding any attraction vehicle, to include Hogwart’s Express.
- Some attractions are temporarily closed, mostly shows and other attractions where guests or actors would be in close proximity to each other.
- Several of Universal’s attractions use 3D glasses. Glasses are still being used and are being sanitized between each use as has always been Universal’s policy.
- Team members can be seen wiping down high contact surfaces throughout the parks and City Walk.
Characters can still be found with surprising little pop-ups for photo ops. We stumbled upon the Grinch, Tigress (from Kung Fu Panda), Hello Kitty, Shrek, Donkey and Fiona, and #hashtag the Panda (from Jimmy Fallon).
Dining reservations were easy
to get with the reduced capacity in the parks, so we were able to enjoy Mythos in Islands of Adventure, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, and Margaritaville, both at City Walk. We also walked into Voodoo Donuts with barely any wait. (The line is normally out the door!)
The only areas that may have seen periods of too many guests were the shops. Some of the shops have only one entry and exit, and it is harder to maintain a 6’ space between you and other guests. Larger stores were no problem.
We had a good experience
throughout our stay at the Universal Orlando Resort and felt health and safety was Universal’s top priority. The long weekend provided much-needed recharging and a very overdue girls’ weekend away.
Traveling right now is not for everyone,
and you have to be comfortable with not only the getting there but also being cautious and careful everywhere possible. Be aware of any travel restrictions for your home state, your destination state, covid testing, and any work or school quarantine requirements upon your return.
If you are unable to wear a mask for long periods of time, consider visiting at a later time. If anyone has any symptoms or is sick in any way, consult your doctor and plan to push back your visit to a later date.
However, if you and your family are healthy and able to take a vacation, it is possible to visit a theme park, have a great time, and stay safe.
Nancy Wideman, Travel Specialist