Well, today Universal has officially reopened to Annual Passholders and we’re reporting LIVE to see how some of the new health and safety regulations will work in a theme park!
Be sure to keep checking back as we will be updating this post throughout the day!
Since we were hotel guests, our temperatures were checked at the hotel and we were given a wristband.
Once you have this wristband, you don’t have to get checked again throughout the day (at hotels, CityWalk, and parks). The color of the wristband changes daily.
Entering the Park
Today is an Annual Passholder preview but those Annual Passholders who chose to stay at a Universal hotel were allowed into the park an hour before everyone else (8AM).
Since hotel guests were allowed early access, prior to entering the park, team members ensure those entering were in fact hotel guests by checking for room keys. From here, we were directed to head to the normal park entry.
They did not scan our fingers when entering the park. We simply scanned our tickets and went inside!
Health and Safety Signage
We noticed that there is plenty of signage posted to remind guests of the health and safety requirements and suggestions.
Just like in CityWalk, there were stickers placed to keep guests separated in high traffic areas — like near this Hogwarts Express photo op!
Masks are required in Universal Resort and we noticed several team members asking guests to keep their faces covered if their mask had shifted or they had moved it. Still, there are locations called URest Areas where you can remove your mask if needed.
These areas do not have distancing markers but there is signage posted that asks guests to keep their distance from one another while they are removing their masks.
There are two URest locations in each park located in separated areas or unused show seating. These can be found at Central Park Lagoon and Fear Factor in Universal Studios and at Port of Entry Landing and Voyage of Sinbad in Islands of Adventure.
Universal is using a virtual line feature on more attractions in order to assist with social distancing.
At this time, the virtual line system is only available for select attractions although a team member did say that they would be adding more lines soon.
You make your reservation and ride on the same day and do note that you need to be on property to select a virtual line time! This reservation can be made for up to 10 people.
We have two people in our party, and technically since accounts aren’t linked (like they are with FastPass+ in Disney World), we were both able to make separate virtual reservations for groups of two. So, it was almost like snagging two virtual line reservations at once.
According to a team member, attractions without virtual lines will operate with a normal standby line. If the attraction does offer a virtual line, it will not have a standby line.
After we scanned our virtual line code on Escape From Gringotts, you still go into a line. On the ground are markers, so that guests will remain distanced. The stickers are spaced between eight feet and ten feet depending on the size of the queue.
Throughout the day we did have some issues with the app for the Virtual Line. Sometimes we were unable to register for new lines when we should have been able to.
Today, team members were sending one person to a locker from a party. The rest were asked to wait elsewhere.
They handed us a ticket and told us which bay to go to. We opened and closed the locker with our park ticket or room key barcode.
There were makers set up outside of locker locations for guests to stand on as they waited to enter the locker area.
Universal’s New Ride Experience
There have been some changes to the way attractions run AFTER you get through the altered queues, too!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
We noticed that some attraction preshows were skipped to keep people from having to gather for too long. For instance, we basically headed straight for the ride for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
Of course, as you approach the ride vehicles, distancing is still in effect with more markers on the ground.
Escape from Gringotts typically has you grabbing 3-D goggles from bins. Today, the bins were empty and a team member was designated to individually hand out the goggles. Tip! It was much more comfortable to wear our goggles over our masks to keep them from fogging.
Prior to getting on the ride, a team member offered us hand sanitizer as well.
For loading, guests were grouped with one party per row and empty rows in between each party.
The Hogwarts Express also features a marked line to help guests with distancing. Team members are seating only one party per cabin on the train.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure remains as popular as ever. Even with a virtual line, the queue stretched all the way out of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The actual line queue does feature markings for distancing guests. Preshows were not available on this attraction either.
The team at Hagrid’s was not seating guests with empty rows in between. However, we did spot that team members were sanitizing each seat between riders.
Universal is encouraging Mobile Ordering for dining. You do have to be inside the park for Mobile Order to work.
The app is pretty similar to Disney’s Mobile Order where you pick out what you want from a full menu in the app.
Then you’re given a pickup number to bring to the window.
Mobile Order pick up is done with distanced lines using the markers. We noticed the pick-up line at The Three Broomsticks was pretty lengthy.
The Hopping Pot had two separate lines, standard ordering on the right and Mobile Order pick up on the far left.
We did see a few characters out and about today, but all of them were meeting from a distance.
Spider-Man is ahead of the curve. He had a mask before he even needed one!
Remember to keep following along as we report LIVE from Universal today!
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Are you planning to visit Universal soon? Let us know in the comments below!