We’ve already updated you on crowds, parking, and the new safety protocols in place, but now we are heading to grab some food and drinks to see what the new restaurant experience is like.
The following venues were open today: 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).
So, let’s jump in to take a look at the new safety and health procedures at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk.
For starters, we do want to remind you that masks must be worn and that touchless temperature checks are required. Universal is selling masks and hand sanitizer. They also informed us that they have a few disposable masks to hand out if needed, but they expressed that they were already running low. You will not get through security without a mask.
Now, let’s talk about our dining experiences!
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
Let’s kick things off at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Like most of the open dining and merchandise locations, there are little spots on the concrete to mark where to stand in line.
Auntie Anne’s had separate bins for sanitized and unsanitized receipt trays that the team members would handle. Each guest payment is placed on a clean, sanitized tray.
The team member passes both the food and money between the window and the guest. Like many other locations, they were accepting cash payments.
As you may notice, there is a very large hard-to-miss doughnut chair outside of Voodoo Doughnut. This is a rather popular photo spot for guests that is still in use. So, yes, you can still get your photo taken on the big, fun chair!
The difference upon reopening is that the chair is now being sanitized between use.
Mobile Express Pickup is available outside of the shop if you would like to order ahead of time.
Here, guests are let in one by one. Beforehand, guests are asked to queue up outside and stand on the markers in order to appropriately adhere to socially distancing protocols.
Once inside Voodoo Doughnut, the queue winds guests around the center doughnut display. This is where guests can see what doughnuts are available.
When it was time to order, a team member directed us to a register. Do note that Voodoo Doughnut is also accepting cash payments at this time. And when everything was ready, our doughnuts were brought over to us.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
When we checked in at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., we were told that there was a 45-60 minute wait.
The team member asked for our number and we received a text with a link that allowed us to check our place in line.
Red Oven Pizza Bakery
Since Bubba Gump’s had a 45-60 minute wait and Margaritaville had a two and a half hour wait, we were getting a little hungry, so we took a quick pit stop for a pizza appetizer at Red Oven Pizza Bakery.
This is another location that was offering Mobile Order. We took advantage of it and were able to order pizza and drinks “to go.”
The outdoor seating is reserved for to-go orders and a host showed us to our seats.
We grabbed drinks and pizza and we’re informed by team members that Universal had provided their black masks.
The wait for Margaritaville was initially two and a half hours, so we put our name on the list and waited to receive a text when our table was ready.
Once seated, our server shared that about 50% of the seating had been removed to allow for additional space between tables.
Menu and Ordering
Margaritaville — like other CityWalk locations — was operating with a limited menu. The host gave us paper menus, which are thrown away after use.
After we were seated, the server brought us silverware in a bin. She asked us to grab our utensils and informed us that the bins are sanitized after each use.
They also gave us a plastic bag for our face masks while we ate and we were able to remove them shortly after sitting.
There are specific food runners, so the servers did not handle our food plates. When our drinks were dropped off, the server pointed out she only touches the bottom of the cup.
When the food runner delivered our nachos, he carefully slid the plate on the edge of the table before sliding it over to us — to minimize contact.
The staff was wearing masks, but not gloves. Each server will also receive a new apron each shift. The staff sanitized their work stations — including the screen and check trays — at least every 15 minutes.
Our nachos were served on traditional, re-usable plates with an extra plate underneath to prevent the runner from touching the food.
When we were finished, the server asked us to move the plate to the end of the table so they would not have to reach in front of us.
Our drinks were served in glasses, but our server gave us paper straws to drink from.
We tried the Shark Fin and the Five O’Clock Somewhere.
Additional straws are available upon request.
When it was time to pay, our server delivered the check-in the plastic tray — holding onto it with a disposable napkin.
The first check already has a space to add gratuity and calculate the final total. This is meant to eliminate an additional visit to the server station.
Servers are not permitted to bring their own pens to work and pens are sanitized after guests use them.
DFB tip: Bring your own hand sanitizer. There was a bottle at the hostess stand, but we liked being able to settle in, take our masks off, then sanitize before eating.
Overall, dining at Universal’s CityWalk felt very organized and thought through. Tables were spread out and people were adhering to the guidelines. The team members were very helpful as we navigated through the new experience.
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Which restaurant in CityWalk is your favorite? Let us know why in the comments below!