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11 Things You Won’t See at Universal Orlando Anytime Soon

It has been closed for nearly three months, but soon, Universal Orlando will be back—along with several notable changes.

Universal Studios Orlando Theme Parkcveltri/Getty Images

Park’s open!

After closing its parks’ gates on March 15 to prevent the potential spread of the novel coronavirus to guests and employees, Universal Orlando in Florida is set to be one of the first major theme parks to reopen on June 5. But Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay will all look a little different than they did less than three months ago. Read on for the sights and experiences that won’t be around at Universal any longer, and then find out how Disney World will be different when it reopens in July.

The entrance to the Universal Studios Park is seen during...Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Big crowds

Airlines are flying with reduced capacity, restaurants are operating half-full at most, and theme parks, including Universal Orlando, will be opening their gates to fewer guests. Though the park didn’t specify an exact percentage on May 21 when it proposed its plan for reopening, it did say that it will be “limiting and reducing daily park attendance and attraction ridership.” The number of guests allowed through the gates will increase as weeks and months go by, presuming there isn’t a second outbreak of coronavirus that requires another round of sheltering-in-place measures. Here’s what a second wave of coronavirus could look like.

Grand Opening Of Universal's Volcano BayGerardo Mora/Getty Images

Long lines

In an effort to cut down on the number of folks waiting in a physical line and potentially getting too close to one another, Universal Orlando has promised that its Virtual Line feature, via the park’s app, will be available for guests to queue up virtually on more rides. Prior to the pandemic, the Virtual Line was available on Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and Fast & Furious: Supercharged; speculation is that it will be available on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and more. In the meantime, you can enjoy these Universal Studios rides virtually.

Big Roller Coastersurpasspro/Getty Images

Single-rider lines

Bad news for those going solo, whether in an attempt to get on a ride faster or for parents to go on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit without their kids: Single-rider lines (where singles hopped on with incomplete groups) are a thing of the past, as interaction between guests will be minimized. “Only party groups will be placed on rides together,” reports The Points Guy. Find out the scariest roller coaster in every state.

GERMANY-HEALTH-VIRUS-PARKPATRICK HERTZOG/Getty Images

Team members without masks

Just like at your local grocery stores, hair salons, and takeout restaurants, team members will be required to wear masks at all times. The one exception? At Volcano Bay water park, team members who might get wet, including lifeguards, will wear a waterproof balaclava when they cannot socially distance. These are six times you need to wear a mask—and three times you don’t.

Boys wear face mask in the public park during COVID-19 pandemic. New normal living after COVID-19 pandemic.Nitat Termmee/Getty Images

Guests without masks

Guests who show up at the park without a mask on will be given a disposable mask to wear or asked to buy one at the theme parks. (Universal Orlando’s website notes that costumes are still not allowed.) Unlike the lifeguards at Volcano Bay, guests at the water park will not need to wear masks or other face coverings while on the slides or in the pools. Universal Orlando says that themed masks are in the works; perhaps they were inspired by Disney’s adorable masks for kids.

Woman Paying using Apple Watch and Electronic ReaderOnfokus/Getty Images

Cash

While bills and coins won’t be banned outright, guests will be encouraged to pay with a cashless option, such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet, which are both accepted throughout the parks. The aim is to cut down on interactions between guests and staff to minimize the spread of germs. These are the things you should always buy with a credit card.

Hard Rock Cafe restaurant in the Universal Studios Park. A...Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Dining reservations

The restaurants at Universal CityWalk, which reopened on May 14, have spaced out their tables by six feet and are operating at limited capacity. In addition, they are not accepting reservations, so guests who have a hankering for a meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, or VIVO Italian Kitchen will want to allow for plenty of time to be seated.

Low section of young man using smart phone while sitting on bench in cityMaskot/Getty Images

Fancy menus

Diners will be encouraged to look at menus on the restaurants’ websites on their phones or will be handed a single-use paper menu. Even still, Universal Orlando cautions that some restaurants will have a limited menu. Check out how else your favorite restaurants might change when they reopen.

Grand Opening Of Universal's Volcano BayGerardo Mora/Getty Images

Mist stations

Guests will have one less way to cool off now as mist stations (designated areas with water sprayers) are on hold over concerns that the spray and/or the water could spread germs. If you’re staying in the area, you’ll also notice some changes—in fact, you won’t see these 10 things in hotels anymore.

An illuminated movie theater during the nighttime. The scene...Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Nightlife

The Groove and other nightclubs, Blue Man Group, and Universal Cinemark movie theater all continue to remain closed, as they don’t allow for proper social distancing. These 20 photos will define the era of social distancing.

A Celebration Of "Harry Potter"Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Big parties

Universal Orlando canceled both its Grad Bash and Gradaventure2020. It has stated that it will reassess whether or not it’s safe to hold its famed Halloween Horror Nights at a later date. Still hoping for a getaway? Find out 13 of the safest vacations you can take this summer.

For more on this developing situation, including how life might be different post-lockdown, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

Anne Fritz
Anne L. Fritz is senior digital editor at Reader's Digest where she writes and edits mainly travel and pet content, along with shopping guides. She has worked at Woman's Day, Life & Style, Seventeen, EverydayHealth.com, WhattoExpect.com and more. She earned a BA in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University.