Universal Orlando Will Officially Reopen June 5 After Months-Long Coronavirus Closure
"Note that any public location where people are present provides an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit," the company wrote on their website
Orlando's theme parks are getting ready to welcome visitors once again.
Universal Orlando Resort will officially reopen on June 5, the company announced on Friday. Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay will all follow carefully-managed reopening plans starting on that date, and guests will be asked to adhere to guidelines from the CDC and health officials.
The reopening plans were originally announced on May 19 during a meeting of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, and have since been approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The parks had closed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.
"As we enjoy our parks together again, everyone will need to follow CDC guidelines and the recommendations of health officials, and Universal Orlando’s policies," the company announced on their website on Friday. "Note that any public location where people are present provides an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit."
Universal will start the process of reopening the parks on June 1, but will not welcome public visitors until June 5. On June 3-4 they'll host invited guests and some annual pass holders to "stress the system and make sure it works," said John Sprouls, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Universal Parks and Resorts during the task force meeting on May 19.
Sprouls also indicated that the park experience will not be the same one visitors are used to.
There will be additional screenings, increased sanitation and social distancing measures. “Things are going to be different, but we’re going to ask them to be patient with us," said Sproules.
As was previously recommended by the task force, all guests and employees will wear facial coverings. If a guest arrives without a mask, a disposable one will be provided to them.
Even before a guest enters the parks, they'll witness social distancing efforts.
“We mapped out the guest journey, and every single point where they come in contact with us….and tried to identify every single touchpoint that we would have with the guest so we can keep them safe," said Sprouls.
Some of those efforts include staggering parking to keep visitors apart as they arrive, temperature checks at all main entrances, contactless purchases for food, and spaced-out lines for attractions that keep guests six feet apart.
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Employees will be trained on the new safety measures in preparation for the opening. They will be required to do self-temperature checks at home daily and once they arrive to work. They will also observe social distancing requirements in break areas and will no longer share wardrobes.
CityWalk, the shopping, dining and entertainment destination at Universal Orlando, has already opened in a limited capacity as of May 14. That decision was announced in a post to the company's website, noting that it was the only part of the resort that would be reopening at that time and the theme parks and hotels would remain closed through at least May 31. Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk Hollywood in California will also remain closed at this time, with no dates shared.
In the initial phase, CityWalk announced that they will only be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; there will be limited menus and limited seating at all food locations; face coverings and temperature checks will be required; and social distancing markers on the ground must be followed, among other restrictions.
The decision to reopen CityWalk at Universal Orlando came just days after Disney announced that Disney Springs in Florida would begin a phased reopening on May 20.
A full list of all the guidelines guests must comply with can be found on the Universal Orlando website.
PEOPLE first reported the news that the parks would be closing on Thursday, March 12. Universal Studios Hollywood temporarily shut down on March 14. At that time, Universal CityWalk planned to remain open, but closed shortly after.
Universal Orlando Resort closed at the end of the business day on Sunday, March 15, and initially hoped to reopen at the end of March, according to a statement acquired by PEOPLE. The announcements came shortly after similar statements from Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
The company was initially looking to reopen the parks after a brief shutdown on April 19. But as the number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continued to rise across the United States, both the California and Florida locations said that they would be extending their closure until the end of May.
They clarified at the time that annual and seasonal passes to either of the parks would be automatically extended by the number of days the theme parks were closed. Monthly payments for FlexPay have also been postponed due to the closure.
Before deciding to close their parks, Disney and Universal both told PEOPLE that they were taking extra precautions to protect guests, including stringent sanitation policies and placement of additional hand sanitizing stations.