Universal Orlando Bans Outside Beverages, Including Water Bottles

February 16, 2015, 4:57 PM · [Update: (Feb. 19) Universal lifted the beverage ban today.]

Fans visiting Universal Orlando this morning encountered a new restriction at the resort's bag check — no more carrying water or other beverages into CityWalk and the theme parks.

Visitors were forced to either discard or empty their beverage bottles before they could pass the bag check point on their way from the parking garages into CityWalk. On a busy holiday, the additional restriction added to the back-up at the checkpoint.

Universal Orlando spokesperson Tom Schroder wrote in an email: "This is the result of a review of our procedures and is not permanent. And yes, guests can bring in baby formula and other necessary items."

The U.S. Transportation Security Agency for years has banned passengers from bringing on airplanes liquids in containers larger than three ounces, in an effort to prevent bomb-making material from getting on planes. But this is the first recent incident of a theme park banning liquids from entry, although, as Schroder noted, this restriction is limited to beverages and does not affect baby formula, medicines and other "necessary items."

Universal Orlando traditionally has enforced a stricter policy on the entry of outside food and beverages than has rival Walt Disney World, where pretty much anything that isn't in a hard-sided cooler, in a glass bottle, or obviously alcohol is okay. Given the lack of any out-of-the-ordinary, additional law enforcement presence at Universal Orlando this morning, one might reasonably suspect that alcohol was the target of this morning's restriction, rather than any new security threat.

Though the new restriction is temporary, there's no other word from Universal on how long the restriction will remain in place. Universal was allowing visitors to bring in empty water bottles, which they could refill inside the resort.

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Replies (23)

February 16, 2015 at 5:21 PM · I used to go to a movie theater that clamped down particularly hard on outside, reusable water bottles, precisely because people would try to smuggle in vodka disguised as water, according to a friend who was a manager there. So this explanation sounds plausible. Still, banning outside water seems awfully draconian for a family-friendly theme park. Yes you can bring in empty bottles, but we'd always try to enter with a full bottle to avoid that drinking fountain bottle refill as long as possible.
February 16, 2015 at 5:26 PM · Oh Lawad!
February 16, 2015 at 6:24 PM · Temporary? So what's the reason for the restriction? Sounds like a money grab.
February 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM · Nah. No money grab here at all. Lots of water parks have this restriction as well. Water World in Highland Hills, Colorado has the same restriction. You just have to dump the liquids prior to entry. You can take the bottle with you and fill it at a water fountain in park.

Water World enforced it due to numbers of guests bringing cocktails or hard liquor in the bottles. Wether or not that's the case with Universal is unknown.

February 17, 2015 at 1:30 AM · First it was enforced use of lockers for everything in your pockets, even zipped, sealed pockets. Now it's a ban on liquids. Add to this the fact that unless you are either staying on-site at the luxury resorts or willing to pay up for expensive express passes then you are relegated to a second class of visitor and I have to say Universal are not making themselves attractive to me right now.
February 17, 2015 at 2:03 AM · I'm assuming that the souvenir cups will be allowed back in?
February 17, 2015 at 9:55 AM · With Mardi Gras here, I suspect it is a means of keeping alcohol out of the park. Universal's rampant love affair with booze distribution is bad enough on its own.
February 17, 2015 at 6:41 AM · We are visiting from the uk, went in sunday at 2pm with cans and bottles, came out about 6pm for coats and more drinks and was refused entry with them, as jessie j sang pn saturday, it's all about the money money money
February 17, 2015 at 7:31 AM · The man at the bag check this morning forced me to throw out my water for my six month old baby's formula. He could clearly see my baby and my formula and he insisted the "higher-ups" said even baby formula must not be allowed. Even the airports let me bring baby formula through. This is absurd.
February 17, 2015 at 9:46 AM · This is enough of a annoyance to stop me from going there. Hopefully it's just temporary.
February 17, 2015 at 10:09 AM · This is a reply to David Brown: Universal is much more attractive to me now because they are taking measures to keep guests safer.
February 17, 2015 at 10:20 AM · Everybody need to lay off of Universal. It is not a cash grab. It is increased measures to protect other guests. If you ask for water for baby formula they will give it to you. I am glad Universal is tightening security especially during Mardis Gras. Newsflash!! Mothers with baby can still carry bombs!
February 17, 2015 at 11:14 AM · I went on Sunday and would almost bet money (if that weren't illegal in FL) that the ban is temporary and due to Mardi Gras. There were a lot of people that were getting very out of hand during the festivities and it doesn't take too big of a stretch of the imagination to think some of those water bottles weren't exactly water. The security guards were all extremely apologetic to everyone in line when I was there too, they seemed just as confused as the guests did. I also noted several "Code of Conduct" postings that had not been there on the previous weekend, so it makes me wonder what kind of trouble some guests got into.
February 18, 2015 at 2:29 AM · I'm HAPPY that I been their just before on Jan 23, 29 and 30 as I'm adicted to save money....
I always have a big Countainer for Icecubes, water and some Magnesium with me.
What does it help if people need to empty their bottle? They just can refill it at a fountain or in any restroom! OK you write that too - so IF it is for SECURITY and NOT for money making reasons I'm fine with that Policie, but it would be enough for Security if they ask to drink (and swallow) some of the water....
February 18, 2015 at 3:39 AM · I'm sorry but this stinks of another universal money grab dressed up as a security issue. . On top of the high ticket costs here's all the other stealth charges you face:

Parking $18 or $25
Express Pass $80 - if you don't want to waste half the day in queues (no good for Harry potter)
Hot dog and drink $12
Digital photo pack $60 (ish, if I rbet correctly) - can't take your own photos on ride so forced to buy this if you want prints.
1 unlimited refill soda $13

So for a family of 5 (which we are) you're looking at an extra $550 to make the most of your day there. To have your water and fruit taken from you at the entrance is a kick in the teeth and we won't be going back anytime soon.

February 18, 2015 at 7:00 AM · If they are going to not allow water bottles they should lower there price for water, that would prove its not a way to make more money during a holiday break...
February 18, 2015 at 9:24 AM · Please everyone, get as annoyed as you can and stay away. This will be greatly appreciated when I go and the crowds are smaller and attraction lines are shorter.
February 18, 2015 at 1:07 PM · Who's kidding who? It's all about the money. Comcast now owns NBC Universal and they are notorious money grabbers who provide poor service and could care less about their customers.
February 18, 2015 at 1:31 PM · An obnoxious money grab. Whether you were bringing in booze or water, now you have to buy it from Universal.

Flask in the pants it is!!

February 19, 2015 at 8:43 AM · I don't have a problem with the ban on outside drinks. I do have a problem with the cost of the tickets and parking. I wish that we could get visitors to protest how expensive it has become and have people agree NOT to do to the theme parks until they lower prices. That will never happen, though and at some point only the rich will be able to go.
February 19, 2015 at 8:51 AM · Just updated the story to note that the ban has been lifted.
February 19, 2015 at 9:24 AM · As a reply to - Denying mothers liquid for baby formula, denying guests plastic bottles of water.... Gosh, I feel safer already! Please feel free to believe what you wish but this has nothing to do with 'safety', whatever the official statements may claim.

Good to hear that the ban has been lifted but it was a crass move in the first place and merely emphasises for me that Universal still haven't quite susssed the concept of Customer Service.... It's 3 steps forward and 2.5 steps back....

February 21, 2015 at 8:42 AM · Heads up people, you never have to buy water at universal... you can ask for a cup of water at any concession that has fountain drinks! Free ice water, I've never purchased a bottle of water at the parks.

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