Unlike Walt Disney World, Universal Studios hasn’t made any formal announcements about reopening. There are several clues that the process has started, however.
The biggest clue that Universal Studios in Orlando is inching towards reopening is a survey that was sent to annual passholders (reported by several outlets) that requests their feedback on how a potential reopening should happen. The survey poses several hypothetical scenarios and asks respondents about their comfort level regarding certain measures like wearing masks within the park. Some of the questions seem to indicate a possible summer target date for reopening.
Another clue comes from Attractions Magazine, where one Starbucks Barista at the City Walk in Orlando has been advised to prepare to return to work as early as next week. A member of the waitstaff at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville was a bit more specific, pinning down the date of May 11th for a partial reopening. UPDATE 5/12/20: It has now been confirmed that a partial reopening will begin on May 14th.
The City Walk is similar in function to Disney Springs, which is scheduled to reopen on May 20th. It offers shopping and dining opportunities outside of the park gates so that people who don’t have admission tickets to the parks for that day can still enjoy some of what the resorts have to offer. Shanghai Disney did something similar when they reopened parts of their resort back on March 9th, but the main parks aren’t opening their gates until May 11th.
Also, like Disney, most of this news seems to be centered on the parks in Florida. There’s no word yet from Universal Studios in California, nor have we heard anything definitive from Disneyland. Likewise, news from the theme parks in Japan is rather sparse. This makes sense as there’s been an enormous push in Florida to reopen, with beaches already being opened to the public, while California and Japan have been much more cautious and restrictive in regards to mass gatherings.
The world is a huge place and the pandemic has hit different parts of it at different times, so it’s hard to say how the rest of the parks will roll out. I would expect things to begin opening regionally, as we are seeing somewhat play out already. Both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World are easing into opening starting with their shopping districts, while their respective counterparts in both California and Japan easing into things at a later date.
Shanghai Disney Resort, however, is basically acting as a road map for other parks around the world. All eyes are on them on Monday as they test having an actual theme park going back into operation. With Shanghai Disney’s tight measures in place, I wouldn’t expect a major outbreak to happen as a result of them opening.
However, first and foremost, I am not a doctor or a scientist. And, secondly, we can’t be sure other parks around the world (or their guests) will be nearly as diligent about the restrictions being put in place. As long as the virus is still in circulation, we need everyone to work together to reduce the spread. All it takes is one infected park guest without a mask to spark an outbreak.
So basically, let’s wait and watch. If you plan on going out to these places, please listen to the precautions being outlined so we can reduce the spread and start to return to something vaguely normal in the near future.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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