I recently returned from a wonderful Mother/Son trip to Universal Orlando Resort where we got to experience all of the social distancing guidelines firsthand. Thinking about what going into the parks with all the restrictions would mean not only myself but all our Me and The Mouse clients, had me a bit worrisome. I must tell you after my visit; I was IMPRESSED! We only had a few minor issues, both of which I will discuss, and neither had to do with the restrictions that were in place at Universal Orlando.
Upon arrival at our resort, Loews Royal Pacific, we were greeted with a health check station right at the entrance to the lobby. We were asked a few questions and temperature screened. After passing the screening you are given a colored wristband that you are to wear the rest of the day. This will let resort employees and security know that you have been cleared for the day and do not require another screening upon re-entry to the resort or into the theme parks. Each day you will be screened and re-issued a different color band. The screening right in the resort was very convenient and made for more accurate temperature readings than those done after you have walked a long distance and stood in the heat for a while.
Spacing markers are on the ground in all locations at the resorts, City Walk, and inside the parks. Only one family/party is to be in each section. The employees did a great job of making sure that was the case while standing in lines whether you were waiting for a ride, boat transportation, or at restaurants. The spacing markers are clear and easy to read even if you are a first-time visitor trying to understand how the guidelines in the park work. Once you’ve arrived at a ride/attraction, you are again sectioned off by your party size. So, for example, my party had 2 people which meant only the 2 of us were near each other. If your group has up to 10 people, (the max I saw while there), then you will all be together in the ride vehicle if space allows. The current capacity of each ride is incredibly low so the 6-foot distancing rule can be maintained. Each ride also has a team member physically giving every person a pump of hand sanitizer before entering the ride.
Now onto the masks. Masks are always required to be worn covering both your nose and mouth but they do have a few exceptions. The temporary exceptions would be while eating or drinking or while inside a U-Rest area where you can sit socially distanced from others and take your mask off for a bit to catch your breath. Another exception is while in a pool or water ride at Volcano Bay. The beach chairs are distanced so that you can sit without a mask, but if walking around and not in the water, you are again required to wear your mask. I highly recommend taking it a little slower than you may be used to. If you are not acclimated to the Florida heat and humidity, the mask can be a bit bothersome. The two minor issues we experienced both involved masks. The first issue was because our days were filled with slow and steady rain – welcome to Florida, right?! When the masks get wet, breathing through them gets a little more difficult. We brought extras each day so that we were able to trade them out a few times. But if they are cloth, it takes a while for them to dry. Our other issue only affected me. It did not seem to bother my son who is more used to wearing a mask full-time while in school. The back of my ears got a bit raw from the mask straps continually rubbing, so if you’re able to wear some “ear-savers”, I recommend bringing them to prevent your ears from itching while on vacation.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by the team-member interactions with visitors who may not have been complying with guidelines and by all the clear markings and signs that Universal Orlando Resort has displayed. One more thing that I cannot recommend enough, is to have the Express Pass. If you’re booked at a Premier resort, it comes as a perk, if visiting the park with tickets only, it can be purchased as an add-on. The Express Pass allows you to by-pass the normal standby line and head straight to the front of the line. Since masks must be worn throughout the day, it's nice to be able to skip the long lines, especially with hot and stale air. Continuing straight inside to air-conditioning is also a relief and can be the difference between feeling hot and miserable or comfortable and happy.
If you’ve been thinking about a Universal Orlando Resort vacation, now may be the perfect time to visit!