Universal Orlando’s CityWalk has partially reopened and we’re here today to see what it’s like now that new health and safety procedures are in place.
CityWalk is currently open daily from 4-10PM and only select venues are operating at this time.
When we arrived, there was a short line of cars waiting to enter. Since we were there well before the shops and restaurants were scheduled to open at 4 PM, we decided to drive around to another entrance to see if it had a shorter line. And, sure enough, the next entrance we checked only had a few cars queued.
Valet parking is unavailable at this time, but self-parking is complimentary. We spotted signs at the entrance which cycled through to notify guests about free self-parking, required face masks, temperature checks, CityWalk’s hours, and more.
At first, Universal team members directed guests to park in every other spot so people could leave their vehicles while maintaining a safe distance from other parties. But soon after, the empty spots between vehicles were filled.
After tackling the parking situation, we made our way towards the entrance of CityWalk.
In order to be admitted to CityWalk, there are a number of safety measures that guests are required to follow. Universal asks that all guests use a face covering, have their temperatures checked upon arrival, wash their hands often, social distance, follow floor markings, and avoid people who are sick.
As we approached the entrance, we noticed a large number of signs reminding guests of the safety policies, as well as social distancing markers on the ground. The markers on the ground indicate to guests where their party should stand in order to maintain the proper distance between them and the party ahead.
By 3:50 PM, there was quite a line forming for entry to CityWalk! From what we saw, guests seemed to be doing a pretty good job of adhering to the distancing guidelines as they were waiting to enter.
We also spotted some of the increased sanitation measures in action here as well. We saw hand sanitizer stations available for guest use and noticed employees sanitizing handrails.
We also asked an employee about face masks, since they are required for entry. The employee we spoke with at the time said they had a few disposable masks available, but that they were already running low.
The employee also confirmed that guests without a mask will be turned away at security. So, in order words, triple-check that you have your mask with you before you head to CityWalk because there’s no guarantee that Universal will have a backup to provide, and you’re not getting in without one!
Guests are also required to have their temperature checked in order to enter CityWalk. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees and higher will not be permitted to enter. Temperatures were being taken by Universal security employees who were outfitted with gloves, masks, and face shields.
The employees used touchless forehead thermometers, and guests wearing hats or anything else that could block their forehead were asked to remove them before their temperature was taken. Our temperature screening was super quick and friendly!
After the temperature check, we moved along to the bag check station. The bins in which guests place their belongings were being sanitized by Universal employees.
And with that, we were cleared for entry into CityWalk! Now, let’s talk shopping and dining experiences.
Not all CityWalk restaurants were reopened, and the ones that have opened are operating with limited seating and menus.
These venues were open on our visit: Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (outside & Lone Palm), Red Oven Pizza Bakery (mobile ordering available), and Voodoo Doughnut (mobile ordering available).
At Auntie Anne’s Pretzel, we noticed social distancing markers in the queue, much like other locations around CityWalk.
Auntie Anne’s also had bins for sanitized and unsanitized receipt trays for employees — each payment was placed on a clean sanitized tray. Auntie Anne’s was also accepting cash payments when we visited.
We stopped by Margaritaville which had a two and a half hour wait! Employees were taking guests names and numbers in order to text them when their table is ready. Guests were only being seated outdoors and at Lone Palm.
Once we were seated at Margaritaville, a busser dropped off a bucket with silverware and asked us to grab our own so they didn’t come in contact with our cutlery. The buckets were sanitized after each use. We were also given a plastic bag to store our face mask.
We were given paper menus, which are discarded after each guest. There were specific runners for handling food, and they only carried one plate at a time. Our runner also pointed out that she would only be touching the bottom of our cup. Drinks were served in glassware with paper straws.
Our server also told us that they’re given a new apron after each shift. When it was time for the check, we were able to fill in the gratuity and total right away, which eliminated an additional trip to the server station, making for one less point of contact.
At Voodoo Donut, we were instructed to wait outside first. Again, there were markings on the ground to keep guests six feet apart. Once we made it inside, we were lined up around the circular donut display before being directed to a register.
We were told to wait by the register, and an employee brought our donut order to us. Voodoo Donut was also accepting cash payments!
In addition to the standard queuing process, Mobile Ordering was also available outside of the restaurant.
Next up, we checked out Red Oven Pizza Bakery. Here, we also noticed social distancing markers. We placed an order via Mobile Ordering and an employee showed us to our table. We were also able to order beer and wine through the Red Oven Mobile Ordering.
Next, we checked out Bubba Gump, where we were met with a 45-60 minute wait.
They provided us with a link by text message that allowed us to check our current place in line, which did allow guests to spread out more rather than keeping them close to wait for their name to be called.
There were pretty limited retail locations available. Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company (retail only), Universal Studios Store, and select merchandise carts were the only retail locations to open on May 14th.
At the Universal Studios Store, there were designated doors for entering and exiting. There were Purell dispensers set up near the doors, and merchandise was stocked and available on the floor as normal.
There were signs displayed throughout the store to remind guests of the social distancing guidelines, and markers on the floor near the checkout showed guests the proper spacing.
We also noticed plenty of hand sanitizer and face masks for sale. When we visited the Universal Store was still accepting cash payments.
Next, we checked out Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company, which is open for retail only.
They also had hand sanitizing stations near the door and markings on the floor to indicate proper social distancing.
Hollywood Drive-In Golf is the only entertainment option open at CityWalk.
Guests are required to social distance on the course by staying put at their hole until the group ahead has already moved on to the next hole. So, in other words, if your group wraps up at hole one, and there is still a group playing hole two, you have to wait until they’ve advanced to hole three before you can move up.
We did notice guests taking off their masks to eat of course, but security was firm about requiring masks to be worn for entry and throughout CityWalk.
Outside of the CityWalk areas, it was pretty deserted, which was a strange sight to behold! Places we’re used to seeing eager guests queueing up for the theme parks were completely empty.
Overall, we found most guests to be diligent about observing the social distancing and mask guidelines. And the Universal employees did a great job of keeping up with the new health and safety protocols. It was helpful to have a system in place for locations like Margaritaville that had extremely long waits and Universal followed through on the procedures they announced before reopening.
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Are you planning to visit CityWalk? Let us know in the comments below.