The Universal Studios Orlando theme parks could open to the public on June 5 after the Orange County Reopening Task Force approved the resort's proposed phased reopening plan Thursday. Universal Orlando Resort wants to start the re-opening on June 1 to allow employees to test safety protocols during the coronavirus pendemic. The resort would be open to invited guests and some annual pass holders on June 3 and 4 for more testing before opening to the general public.
The Orange County Task Force unanimously approved the plan, reports WESH. It still needs to be approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Universal Orlando executive John Sproules called the plan a "gradual reopening," noting that even when the parks are open to the public, capacity will be limited.
The Universal resort, which includes the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks, has been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandmeic. The parks are the first of Orlando's major theme parks to submit reopening proposals, as Disney and SeaWorld have yet to share theirs. Universal's CityWalk entertainment district reopened last week.
Universal plans to have every guest's temperature taken when they arrived. It if is 100.4 degrees or high, the visitors will be turned away. Visitors also have to wear face masks, which will be available to purchase at the gates. Interactive play areas will be closed, as will single rider lines. Valet operations will be suspended, and the water and mist elements on attractions will be shut down. Workers also have to wear face masks and submit to temperature checks.
Chairs and tables will be disinfected after a visitor leaves them behind, and high-touch areas will be more frequently cleaned. Capping capacity will also help guests maintain social distancing. Universal plans on adding cashless payment options and staggered parking. There will also be new signs placed throughout the parks to remind visitors to follow social distancing measures.
On Wednesday, Florida theme park executives took part in a roundtable with Vice President Mike Pence in Orlando. Disney World executive George Kalogridis said Disney is thinking about capping capacity at 20% to 30% at the parks, reports Click Orlando. Kalogirdis is looking at the success of Shanghai Disneyland, where apacity was set at 20% as a template for Disney World. Guests there have also been required to wear face masks and follow social distancing. "Everyone knows COVID-19 is a serious manner," Kalogridis said. "Therefore, we’re all playing a part in this ecosystem of safety. We’re going to do our part and we need our guests to do their part too."