Universal Orlando's CityWalk Begins Reopening This Week

May 12, 2020, 2:58 PM · The Universal Orlando Resort announced today that it will begin reopening select restaurants and retail locations at its CityWalk shopping and dining district on May 14.

Select locations will be open from 4-10pm each day, starting Thursday. For dining, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Voodoo Doughnut, and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels will reopen. On the retail front, Universal Studios Store and select merchandise carts will reopen, as will the retail section of Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company and Airbrush.

Hollywood Drive-In Golf also will reopen to guests. Parking will be free at the Universal garages, though valet parking will not be available.

Face coverings will be required of all visitors, as will a temperature check upon arrival. If you test 100.4F or higher, you will not be admitted to Universal CityWalk. Universal also is insisting that people follow social distancing guidelines by remaining six feet away from other parties. Universal will provide floor markings in waiting areas and queues to help people with that.

In addition, Universal will encourage people to use mobile ordering for Red Oven and Voodoo Doughnut through the official Universal Orlando app. More details are available on Universal's website.

Previously, Walt Disney World announced that it will begin a first phase reopening of its Disney Springs shopping and dining district on May 20. All Florida theme parks remain closed for the time being, however.

Replies (19)

May 12, 2020 at 3:10 PM

Intriguing and the rules are good (even though I'm still wary of how they enforce the mask stuff and keeping folks truly apart). Also, the fact it's only for six hours should cut down on crowds and less risk.

Still, the debate abounding on how "normal" is a very far way off still but Universal being smarter than places that openly have signs boasting on how there's no need for masks and "go ahead and hug."

May 12, 2020 at 3:47 PM

I think this is a good first step. Honestly, I'm not sure who's going to visit CityWalk right now with the parks closed and the resort hotels devoid of guests. I guess that will keep crowds to a minimum and allow Universal to do a relatively controlled trial run of its procedures without being overwhelmed. There's really not much appeal to City Walk for locals that can't be found elsewhere in Orlando, so I think crowds will be pretty limited as opposed to Disney Springs, which has a number of high-profile retailers and restaurants frequented by locals.

I do think temperature checks are more security theater than masks, but will continue to assert that it's important that there be some standard as to what is an acceptable mask. I think it's also important to see how comfortable employees are, because a number of businesses that are in the process of re-opening are running into resistance from employees that are not comfortable with the safety protocols and don't want to return to work until those concerns are addressed.

May 12, 2020 at 3:26 PM

@Russell Meyer: "Honestly, I'm not sure whos' going to visit City Walk right now." Trust me, I've been on other blogs to note folks in Orlando dying to get back out to eat so yeah, it'll get customers. The mini-golf alone should get some attention. Maybe not huge but in my own small town in Illinois, a clear feeling of people ready to go back to the various pubs as soon as they reopen.

I was surprised to see a generally right-wing writer making the great point that "anyone who thinks 'if you reopen, they will come' is fooling themselves, it's not going to be back to how it was for a long time." I can see many employees jumping to get back to work for money alone but sure there will be major concerns as well that will have to be addressed quickly.

May 12, 2020 at 3:34 PM

"Honestly, I'm not sure whos' going to visit City Walk right now"

Haha I can tell you don't live in Orlando, world capitol of self proclaimed members the media. That re-opening is going to get more "coverage" than Tienanmen Square.

May 12, 2020 at 3:43 PM

*the_man: I was just saying, that's an odd idea as even small towns in midwest are celebrating diners being opened, let alone a major place like Orlando.

May 12, 2020 at 8:33 PM

Russell, as a medical doctor I can assure you there is value in temperature screening. Whilst it will miss many infected people it will detect some, thus reducing the risk. It is also cheap, fast and noninvasive, making it somewhat if a no brainer. As for how much is theatre to make people feel more comfortable is up for debate (I'm inclined to agree with you that this would be Universal's primary intent). Ideally it should be done without guests even being aware, and therefore not lulling them into a false sense of security.

To reiterate previous comments I've made, opening restaurants and public facilities in the US at this stage is fool hardy, will lead to a spike in cases and deaths and subsequently not benefit the economy (the last bit being opinion based on a large amount of expert analysis I've read into). Even if you are young and healthy, you can still spread the virus to others who are not. The more this is controlled, the better it is for everyone.

Stay home stay safe.

May 13, 2020 at 8:51 AM

I do live in Orlando. Locals have no desire to go to CityWalk, even now. Other things in the area are opening, stupidly, so CityWalk has no benefit to anyone that wants to take a risk even.

May 13, 2020 at 9:20 AM

@grant, I didn't say temperature checks didn't have any value, but that they were more "security theater" than requiring people to wear masks. The effectiveness of a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is much higher than performing temperature checks, especially if you're already requiring guests/employees to wear masks. As far as doing temperature checks "without guests being aware", I assume you're referring to thermal imaging cameras. Reports indicate that a lot of businesses have been rapidly looking at the technology, and quickly installing thermal cameras on their properties. However, a number of studies have shown that the technology is not terribly accurate for this specific application, particularly outside of climate controlled environments. In addition, there's the question of how to approach guests that are exhibiting feverish conditions and if they will be immediately removed from the premises (along with their party), and/or if additional temperature checks with no-touch thermometers will be performed to provide more accurate results. It's a confrontation that I don't think any CM/employee wants to have with a guest, but will be critical to allow any surveillance policy like this to be effective.

May 13, 2020 at 10:15 AM

Apple announced the data from tracking their devices show the public to be moving at the same rate as before the epidemic outbreak. Our society and our economy is built on engaging one another and it would seem whether we like it or not, people are not waiting for an all clear announcement.

FL, GA and TX are the states I am watching to see how they open, how the public responds and the availability of ICU and MedSurg beds in acute care facilities. The bed metrics, which I have been monitoring since the outbreak, reflects the severity of illnesses in a given area (i.e. ICU Bed = ventilator). For those interested, the program I use has indicated no county in the US has been without ICU or MedSurg beds, outside of NY and NJ.

I am also an elected official in a Midwest town and my village manager has told us our Mar/Apr "shared revenues" from the state, which is always 2 months behind, will be 80% less than prior mths. Unless Wash DC funds another trillion $ bailout, expect public services in every community across the US to be dramatically cut, beginning in June.

May 13, 2020 at 10:51 AM

Thermal scanning sounds good but it's not really up to major accuracy levels just yet. Plus, it can be tricky in areas known for high heat and humidity (like, say, Florida) which is why it's not widespread yet.

May 13, 2020 at 12:37 PM

If people correctly wear their mask and use social distancing data show the spread of the virus almost drops to 0. Not quiet 0 but really low.

May 13, 2020 at 1:18 PM

Rave, I think you’re vastly overstating that. Even in Lockdown the UK’s spread rate is closer to 1 than 0. 1 is stable.

It doesn’t take much to push it over 1.

May 13, 2020 at 3:13 PM

Russell - good point about the environment its used in. Mostly in the past they've been used in airports and hospitals, significantly controlled environments.

In terms of managing guests with a fever, clearly they don't get in the park and this needs to be communicated well in advance. Security would need to be involved in policing this, but surely some guests would get riled up.

In terms of masks, I agree they're important but policing how people wear them poses a real issue. I now how difficult it can be to get a fit with an n95 mask (different to a standard surgical mask in its fit and function) and I've not seen many people in the community wear them appropriately. The main purpose of the mask is to reduce the spread of aerasolised virus in the event of a cough or sneeze, which would probably not be effective the way most people would wear a mask in a theme park.

Most of these measures are dependent on the cooperation of all the people involved, which based on the people we're seeing in the news would be pretty poor. I just don't see theme parks being safely opened anytime in the near future.

May 13, 2020 at 11:52 PM

grant and vix. And I am really surprised vix does not know this. Georgia has been almost totally open for 3 1/2 weeks now @ has only seem a modest increase in cases. Nothing like the naysayers were predicting, including (but he has a lot of company) grant. If it were higher CNN, msnbc, NY times and wa po would be all over it. And. they had been pretty silent on georgia for the last 2 weeks. We have to accept a certain amount of increases from what it was over lockdown. Because, As Vix said revenues are down so much local services will be cut very very drastically otherwise. that means police and fire, which will lead to just as many deaths as the virus will. In additon, to obesecity, sucides, abuse, resurgence of organized crime and a host of other wills resulting from prolonged lockdowns. If needed we can lock down again for some time in oct or nov. But we need a break while the temps are warmer and the virus does not spread as easily. the 1st amendment was written when people died of contagions left and right all the time for 100 yrs after 1776.

May 14, 2020 at 8:46 AM

Davedisney- Georgia reopened April 24-27, 3 weeks ago. The incubation period for COVID is 2 weeks, so any change to the rate due to the reopening wouldn't be expected to be seen yet. Give it another 2-3 weeks and we'll see.

As for the concept of "reopening for summer and maybe close down again late", most economists estimate the effect of that too be much worse than a more sustained initial closure followed by cautious reopening.

The understanding of epidemics in the 1700s was not very sophisticated. The idea that the 1st amendment was scripted with an understanding of epidemics is ridiculous.

Cutting of services like police and fire is BS. The idea that the richest nation in the world can't afford to pay emergency services is disgusting. When corporate America gets massive tax cuts and bailouts, to not pay services for the people is beyond contempt.

May 14, 2020 at 11:47 AM

>> the 1st amendment was written when people died of contagions left and right all the time for 100 yrs after 1776.

I don’t understand why the US constitution is treated like a holy document. In that era you knew you were in a pandemic when the graveyards started filling up.

However, I did have a chance to do some study of your constitution as a part of a comparative course run by a conservative professor. Given what the authors of the document were saying about the state-federal relationship in the federalist papers (basically promoting state supremacy), and that the reading of the first amendment at the time was understood not to apply to state governments at all (the word “Congress” would not be reread to mean “all branches of all governments” until much later, the 14th amendment I believe), so even if we were to try to read it with an originalitst intention, it still doesn’t apply to this situatuon.

In short, if you were to bring the authors of the modern day in, they’d probably wonder why you’re looking at it at all.

May 14, 2020 at 12:51 PM

@Chad H: We in America can have a....touchy relationship with the Constitution, depending on which side of the political fence you're on. I'm sure you can read on that without my going into it but suffice to say, it's caused troubles over the years and right now a major fight with some openly declaring "better to die of virus than lose on Constitutional right."

May 14, 2020 at 1:28 PM

What do I do when I am on Hulk and my damn mask flies off my face?

Will I get a timeout, Have to sit in a corner, maybe flogged 5 times?

Do I have to carry a few extra mask, how do I wear a mask on a water ride like Popeye and Bluto ride?

So many questions.....

Can I take it off to eat? What if I am in a stall, ya know, going, DO I keep the mask on, can I take it off and who is going to check?

May 15, 2020 at 1:53 PM

CHAD H--If I recall you are from the UK. I know the UK has no federal constitution, which always worried us here in the US, that the UK would be more likely to have a dictatorship take over than in the US. Where power is balanced with the US surpreme court where appointments are staggered between several presidents and not subject to election.

While I like state rights a lot (ironically liberals and socialists have always hated it) states still do not have the option to ignore of not have the first amendment of freedom of speech and assembly. The supreme court has ruled a million times that protesters have the right to assemble and be offensive no matter how much anyone disagrees with them. And I mean the height of being offensive. the high court famously ruled that a NAZI group in full uniform has the right to have 1 march in a neighborhood where 90 percent of the people were Jewish, including a lot of holocaust survivors. That was in the 60's when they were a lot of survivors in NY. They apply what is legally called "strict scutiny" which is the highest form of scutiny they have ever established. The state interest has to be very "clear and compelling". When the contagion was at it's height in NY, Italy, France, And China it would have met that standard.

But. we are far from those heights now, so a fair minded Judge would rule that people are free to protest. The Gov can do something like say no more than 1 time a week in a given place. or during the day (not at nighttime when it's easier for violence to erupt), as permissible regulation.

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