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Universal Orlando targets June 5 coronavirus reopening

Lucas Manfredi

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Orange County's Economic Recovery Task Force has unanimously approved Universal Studios' reopening plan for its Orlando, Florida, theme park.

During Wednesday's presentation, Universal's Chief Administrative Officer John Sprouls laid out what Universal's new normal will look like. Sprouls said Universal Orlando Resort will reopen at limited capacity to team members on June 1, invited guests and annual pass holders on June 3 and 4, and the rest of the public on June 5.

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From the moment guests exit their vehicles, cars in the parking lots will be spaced out to promote social distancing guidelines, and valet parking will be closed to prevent the potential transmission of the coronavirus.

Throughout Universal Orlando Resort, there will be signs to promote social distancing as well as Universal employees to answer guests' questions. Social distancing information will also be provided through the park's mobile app.

Upon entry into the park, guests will be given a questionnaire as well as a temperature check using hand-held thermometers. If a guest has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they won’t be allowed to enter. All guests will be required to wear masks at all times and will be provided free disposable masks if they don't have one. All team members will also be required to wear masks and at all times and will be required to take a daily temperature screening before their shift and wash their hands every 30 minutes.

Hand sanitizer will be found at the entrance and exit of every attraction, food venue, and merchandise location and capacity at each attraction, dining and merchandise location will be individually managed to promote social distancing. Guests will be able to order food through the mobile app to allow for contactless payments.

The park will use virtual queues for its attractions and eliminate the use of single-rider lines. Parties will be kept together on attractions and will be separated from other parties. Water and mist elements used on attractions will be turned off to avoid potential transmission of the virus. Interactive play areas for children will also be shut down, and all post-show meet-and-greets will be canceled.

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Universal -- owned by Comcast -- is the first major theme park to present its phased reopening plan to the task force.

The Walt Disney Company and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. will present their plans “on another date,” according to an Orange County spokesperson.

Last week, Universal reopened its Citywalk shopping center in Orlando with coronavirus safety measures put in place, including face masks, temperature checks, social distancing enforced through capacity limitations, floor markings and signage, and continuous cleaning and disinfecting of all tables, chairs and high-touch surfaces. Universal is also encouraging regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Guests can visit select restaurants and retail outlets between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily.

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