Well, well, well ThemeParkHipster, do any of you have theme park fever yet? Especially Universal Orlando fever?! We know that lots of you have probably been DESPERATE to visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure this past year…
Because, let’s face it, for a ThemeParkHipster, a year in a pandemic without a theme park feels like a lifetime!
However, we also know that with all the travel restrictions and precautions that 2020 and 2021 have brought upon us, it’s been hard to plan a trip to Universal Orlando… or any place… for that matter.
Is it safe? Will they have space for me once I arrive? What restrictions do I have to keep in mind during my Universal Orlando visit?
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If you’re anything like us, these questions have been swirling around your head, but luckily, today we’re here to give you the long-awaited answers!
Because an entire year without the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Sized rides is long enough!
So without further ado, here’s the seven big changes you can expect to see during your next Universal Orlando visit!
7 Differences at Universal Orlando in 2021 #ThanksCorona
1. Face Coverings Are Not Required!
No surprise here ThemeParkHipsters, but face coverings are not required for the duration of your Universal Orlando visit, except, of course if you’re going indoors to any area such an attraction, a restaurant, store or hotel.
We know this is a much more convenient situation in Florida, given the heat and humidity during the summertime.
Here’s what you need to know about the new mask policy at Universal Orlando Resort:
- Face coverings are not mandatory while outdoors.
- The face coverings are also required in all indoor locations including shops and restaurants for fully immunized guests.
- Face coverings are no longer required at all attractions for fully immunized guests.
- Guests must still provide their own face covering.
As mentioned above, you will not be required to wear your mask indoors only if you’re immunized, but don’t worry, we’ve got the most breathable, park-friendly face masks here to help!
This mask has not only won the “most breathable” award, but it even cools itself down upon sensing sweat!
Or, if you’re more of a gaiter guy or gal, then this one is the way to go!
So many cute designs to choose from, PLUS they’re quick drying and moisture wicking aka: pull moisture away from your skin instead of towards it!
2. Temperature Checks Are NO LONGER Required
Again folks, as you probably predicted, you probably thought that your temperature would be checked upon arrival at Universal Orlando.
As of writing this guide, Universal Orlando will no longer require guests to have their temperature taken by Team Members!
3. Social Distancing is Enforced via Floor Markings
You’ve seen it at your local grocery store, and now you’ll see it at Universal Orlando Resort too. Stickers on the ground marking how far apart you must stay from other guests.
You’ll find these stickers in high occupancy places, like ride queues and attractions with stadium seating.
As of this week, Universal Orlando has also reduced the physical distancing requirements from 6 feet to 3 feet.
Universal Orlando wants you to keep in mind that safety is still a priority with by putting an emphasis on:
- Washing your hands often
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick
- Using hand sanitizer prior to boarding an attraction (will be provided to you by a Team Member)
Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!
4. Some Attractions are Closed
We do regret to inform you all that, unfortunately, some attractions are closed at Universal Orlando due to pandemic restrictions although hopefully you won’t miss any of them too dearly.
At this moment, no major attractions are closed at Universal Studios Florida.
In Islands of Adventure, Storm Force Acccelatron and Poseidon’s Fury have been temporarily put on pause. Additionally, any attraction that encourages hands-on play, like Camp Jurassic or playgrounds are closed… for now.
5. Limited Capacity
To be honest, probably the biggest change you’ll notice when visiting the Universal Orlando Resort is the limited capacity.
There will certainly be less hustle and bustle as you walk around, although unfortunately Universal is yet to release their official capacity number.
At any rate, we have a few tips to ensure you’re one of the lucky ones who get admitted for the day and not turned away at the entry gate!
Tips for Getting into Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
- Start Early: The first thing you can do to up your chances of being admitted is quite simple: arrive at park open. Whether you’re going to Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, this is the smartest move to make, because it ensures that you get the most out of your day!
- Check the Hotline: More importantly however, if you’re not planning on hitting the parks first thing in the morning, then you’ll want to check the Universal Orlando capacity hotline before arriving to see how much room is left for new guests. You can call anytime during normal park operation hours at (407) 817-8317.
Universal Orlando is yet to adopt Busch Gardens’ online reservation system, where guests can reserve their park day in advance. But if and when they do, you know that ThemeParkHipster will be the first to let you know!
Hipster Power Tip: If Universal is at capacity when you arrive, you can wait in the standby queue for possible entry into the park.
6. Mobile Ordering is the Way to Go!
Ok, so contrary to popular belief, this mobile service is not exactly the UberEats or DoorDash service you might be thinking of.
It only works while you’re in the parks because it’s a convenient food ordering service, not a delivery service (kind of like Starbucks’ mobile ordering system).
Essentially by using the Universal Orlando app, you are able to hook up your credit card and order food from your favorite in-park restaurant ahead of time. Why?
Because first of all, by ordering and paying for food through the app, you’re limiting person to person contact- an essential right now!
The Universal Orlando App also allows you to purchase park tickets, check ride wait times, make ride Virtual Line reservations and so much more!
7. Meet Characters at a Distance
At this time, there are no “official” character meet-and-greets. You can get a photo with them from a distance.
Top Questions About Going to Universal Orlando Resort This Year
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s go through a few of the most commonly asked questions.
Should I download the Universal Orlando app for my next visit?
As a fellow ThemeParkHipster, we HIGHLY recommend using the Universal Orlando app because it has a LOT of perks… especially amidst a pandemic!
First of all, by using the mobile food and drink order section of the app, you can order your food ahead of time, just like a Starbucks mobile order.
That way, when you arrive at your desired eatery, all you have to do is grab and go, minimizing the amount of time you stay in line and expose yourself in a crowded area.
And, guess what? You even pay for your food in the app too! So person to person contact is really minimal!
What else can the Universal Orlando app do that will optimize your pandemic park hopping trip?
Well, you can purchase your park tickets instantaneously, entering the park with a quick scan of a QR code at the entry turnstile, aka: never wait in a line to purchase tickets again…
…AND you can even virtually reserve your spot in some ride lines, minimizing the amount of time you have to spend up close and personal with other guests.
And, if you ask us, cutting down time waiting in lines is always a perk, pandemic or not!
Are there any extra savings this year?
Of course! As a way to build guest incentive to come visit the park this year, Universal Orlando has launched an exclusive deals page that is too good to resist!
Check that link often, as the coupons and bundles change periodically, but lately savings packages have been upwards of $200, sometimes even all the way to $1,000!
Get the best Universal Orlando Resort deals here!
Are there any special events going on at Universal Orlando in 2021?
While many big events, including Halloween Horror Nights were cancelled in 2020, Universal Orlando started off 2021 with a bang by keeping it’s popular Mardi Gras offerings alive and well.
New Food Offerings
For the summer, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the new dining options around Universal Studios to celebrate the start of the season!
But for the most up-to-date event information, keep checking the official Universal Orlando website, because all events and information are subject to change.
Will I still have fun? Is a visit to Universal Orlando still worth my time and money, even with the restrictions?
Well ThemeParkHipsters, we are thrilled to report that even with the restrictions, guests are still having a magical time at Universal Orlando.
Especially because, even amidst a pandemic,Universal has been working hard to release some new offerings that are sure to keep the magic alive!
And… if you’re a Jurassic Park superfan… we probably don’t even have to tell you what it is…
Concept art and video renderings have already been released, and we must say, if you’re one for dips, drops, and flips, we’re sure you’ll have a ROARing good time!
We hope this guide put your park hopping pandemic worries at bay and inspired you to book your next Universal Orlando trip in a hurry, because trust us, the park misses you just as much as you miss it!
But, at the same time, if you don’t feel comfortable going to Universal Orlando just yet, we totally understand.
And luckily, we’ve got a bit of good news for you too. Universal Orlando understands your pain, and they’re here to help!
Recently, Universal Orlando launched their “Universal at Home” page, where you can experience lots of in park features, at home.
Like POV videos of rides, on property recipes, playlists streaming the park’s atmosphere music, and evening Universal Orlando coloring pages!
Here’s the link to hold you over until your next in-person visit!
And, until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
About the Author
Gina is a former Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line Cast Member who enjoys reliving the magic by writing helpful tips and tricks for future guests!
Check out more about her Disney adventures and writing endeavors at www.ginaarfi.net.
(Original Article Date: May 6, 2021/Updated by Editor to reflect New Park Changes on June 15, 2021)