Important Things We Just Learned about Disney Springs from Universal
Disney Springs will reopen in phases starting on May 20.
Many restaurants and stores will open on this day, followed by more on May 22 and May 27.
However, the other famous entertainment district in Orlando just returned yesterday. Here’s what we just learned about Disney Springs from the reopening of Universal CityWalk.
About the Process
The video above comes from MickeyBlog’s friend, Prince Charming Dev. He took a tour of Universal CityWalk yesterday and came away with sound advice and a lot of Voodoo Doughnuts.
The TL:DR here is that most visitors at CityWalk behaved as expected. Much of the credit goes to the organizers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to build a safe environment.
Starting May 14th, select Universal CityWalk venues will open from 4-10pm with limited menus and guidelines for Team Members and guests.See full details and guidelines at https://bit.ly/2ySWRgR
Over the past few months, we’ve learned that Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld officials frequently communicate about matters that impact them all.
Suffice to say that nothing has ever affected these three businesses like the Coronavirus pandemic. So, all parties have discussed the most effective measures for guests.
Universal CityWalk became the first one to display the new measures on May 14. Most of their approaches involve steps we’ve discussed here at MickeyBlog.
Entering the Entertainment Complex
The admission steps at Universal CityWalk should mirror the ones at Disney Springs. For now, guests use the parking garage since no form of theme park transportation is available.
Several influencers and website publishers showed photographs and video of the opening day “rush” at CityWalk.
Suffice to say that some people did show up at the first opportunity. Some of them needed something to do, while others wanted to live out an exciting experience.
So, we can’t extrapolate anything from the crowds. What we can tell is that lines formed before CityWalk allowed guests.
The automated signs instructed people regarding where to park. However, they also indicated safety measures to remind visitors that changes are in place.
I would estimate that roughly 200 guests appeared on reopening day. They stayed in their cars until the opening hour approached, which wasn’t until 4 p.m.
RT if you miss Orlando sunsets!
— Visit Orlando ☀️ (@VisitOrlando) May 14, 2020
As expected, symbols on the ground identified where guests should stand while awaiting admission. Virtually everyone in line honored these requests.
When anyone failed to do so, Universal employees shouted reminders into microphones and megaphones. They were quite diligent in keeping lines moving safely and efficiently.
OFFICIALLY OPEN: After shutting down during the coronavirus pandemic, Universal CityWalk has officially reopened to guests, becoming the first major Orlando attraction to do so.https://t.co/qY6LIqbmio
— FOX 35 Orlando (@fox35orlando) May 14, 2020
Don’t worry, though. Nobody was nasty. In fact, Universal had instructed cast members to tell jokes. So, they described social distancing as “three Minions or one baby raptor apart.”
Guests eventually reached a spot where employees checked their temperatures. This process is streamlined enough that it takes only a few seconds.
Like at Shanghai Disneyland, the guideline here is a temperature under 100.4 degrees. Anyone with a reading higher than that won’t be allowed into the area.
BACK TO BUSINESS: It seems like Central Florida is finally back in business. Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort opened back up Thursday with a line of cars waiting to get into the dining and entertainment complex. https://t.co/DXHBaieImr
— FOX 35 Orlando (@fox35orlando) May 15, 2020
After successfully proving one’s good health, guests can enter the CityWalk complex. Even though everyone is free of COVID-19, people must wear masks inside the entertainment complex.
Inside the Entertainment Complex
Universal CityWalk has taken the same approach as Disney, which again speaks to private discussions between the entities.
Only a few places returned at the first opportunity. At CityWalk, a miniature golf course proved the most popular destination on reopening day.
Clearly, guests need a distraction and any sort of physical activity they can get right now.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the most popular restaurants were Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Voodoo Doughnuts.
The Universal Studios Store was open on day one. I’m mentioning it for a couple of reasons.
I expect that Disney will follow the same practices. For starters, hand sanitizer stations are available in this and every other store.
The thought process is that guests will handle a lot of the merchandise. As a precautionary measure, they should kill germs before doing so. It’s smart.
Notably, CityWalk is also selling hand sanitizer…and at a reasonable price. The store offers bottles for $3 each.
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) May 15, 2020
If Disney follows this practice, people will go here just for this product, which is almost impossible to find online right now.
The store is also selling generic masks (well, “face coverings”) for $6 each. Also, you can buy three for $15.
I can’t help but feel that Universal missed an opportunity here. A Harry Potter or Simpsons mask would appeal to more people.
We already know Disney won’t make this mistake, as ShopDisney has already sold cloth face masks at $19.99 for four.
Let’s Talk Masks
Since this subject is among the most divisive of Coronavirus prevention methods, let’s evaluate how guests did with their masks.
I watched multiple videos, and Dev did the best job of honestly discussing his comfort level.
According to my weather app, the temperature was 83 degrees when people entered the entertainment complex.
I’m not naming names on who else I watched, but let’s just say that Dev is the fittest of the batch. He didn’t mind the mask at first, but he admitted that it got to him after a while.
All the video hosts but one acknowledged that they didn’t like wearing a mask while walking around the area. They weren’t used to it, and it agitated them.
HAPPENING NOW: Universal Orlando's CityWalk reopens in a limited capacity at 4 p.m. https://t.co/pUsNuEZdp6
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) May 14, 2020
While 83 degrees is hot for Florida, the Central Florida area will get 20 degrees warmer over the next few months.
Everyone who appeared on camera started sweating after an hour, sometimes less. At this point, the masks became less convenient.
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) May 14, 2020
That’s the worst part of the current rules, which means that the precautionary measures are robust and reliable overall. Plus…
About the Restaurants
At restaurants, guests can remove their masks. In fact, Margaritaville and others had a cunning plan in place at indoor tables.
— TheUnofficialGuides (@TheUGseries) May 14, 2020
Managers spaced the tables as far away as possible. I found myself wishing that restaurants had always used their space this way.
Alas, there’s a lot more money in jamming people on top of one another. So, I feel there’s an unintended positive from the indoor restaurant social distancing measures.
Of course, employees need protection, too. Universal, SeaWorld, and Disney have thought about this, also.
The spacing at the tables effectively creates an empty seat. There isn’t a chair at this spot.
Instead, servers greet and interact with guests from this spot. This way, nobody gets too close.
The idea is critical because restaurants are the one place where people aren’t required to wear masks.
To eliminate risk, the restaurants have included paper menus rather than plastic ones. Guests will dispose of them once the meal ends.
Similarly, each table comes with a plastic bag where people will place their masks during the meal.
This practice prevents people from misplacing their masks. Also, it helps the store.
If a manager notices someone forgetting to replace their mask, this person can remind guests of the safety practice.
Colorful fountain in CityWalk Orlando. pic.twitter.com/M8dedO07z4
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) May 15, 2020
In short, the new measures in place at Universal seem smart and safe for everyone.
Presuming that Disney follows these same practices, willing guests should feel comfortable returning to Disney Springs in the coming days and weeks.