Sharon and I have clearly been on the #stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands team for quite a while. I’m not living in fear, as many people say, but we’re both trying to make smart decisions.
Florida, or more importantly the Florida state government, is chomping at the bit to reopen. The Orlando theme parks have taken a more cautious approach. Remember, Orange County shut down before any statewide lockdown was announced. I’d even say that after the beaches and theme parks announced their shutdowns, the state had no choice but to follow their lead.
The state of Florida has issued its reopening guidelines with businesses like restaurants, salons, retail storefronts and even gyms able to resume operations, with restrictions. But that doesn’t mean the theme parks can reopen because they fall under the Orange County government’s rule (except the parts of Disney World that are in Osceola County.) Not to get too much into local government, but not all of Florida is incorporated cities like in other parts of the country. County governments have the rule over much of the area, including Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando.
The Orange County Mayor, Jerry Demmings, has to sign off on any re-opening plans. So the theme parks are opening what they can without approval, their retail areas. While much was made about Disney Springs opening, that area is not anywhere close to the Disney parks. So saying Disney’s open because of this isn’t really true. The Disney owned locations aren’t even open yet, but apparently, they’re getting ready.
In other news, Universal Orlando’s CityWalk shopping, dining and nightclub area opened to guests several days ago. Many bloggers covered the opening but we’re not ones to go to places on opening day. We figured it would be better to check it out on a weekday evening when the crowds would hopefully be smaller. CityWalk is also connected to the Universal Orlando parks, so we could catch a glimpse of them, even if we’re not able to go inside.
So we headed to CityWalk. The area is only open from 4-10 PM and only a few establishments were operating. You can park at the parking garage for free (it’s usually $25 to park). All guests must wear face coverings and are subject to a temperature check before entry.
While we were directed to parking spots in the garage, Universal has blocked off every other parking spot. Once out of the car, there was no problem distancing ourselves from other guests.
Universal wants to make sure you know the parks ARE NOT open.
Once into the CityWalk area, there were more people but everyone seemed to be conscious of keeping their space and almost everyone was wearing face masks properly.
It was a beautiful late afternoon in Florida, but it’s already getting too warm to sit out in the sun for too long.
We couldn’t resist taking a picture of the deserted entry to Universal Studios.
And you’re otherwise never able to get an empty selfie in front of the Universal logo even if we felt it necessary to keep our masks on. I think my home haircut goes well with my mask 🙂
We spent the rest of our time there watching the entertainment. Yes, Universal has brought some of their actors back to add some life to Citywalk, even if it is a social-distancing dance party where you need to stay on your blue dot while doing the Cha-Cha Slide or the YMCA.
Our last stop of the day was the most important. Voodoo Doughnut.
That’s what we left for tomorrow morning. We ate the other two Portland Creme doughnuts this evening.
So how did it feel walking around Universal CityWalk? Kinda weird, I have to admit. I mean, we’re used to the place being packed. Having entertainment there, welcoming everyone and thanking them for observing social distancing and commenting on the style choices of guest’s facemasks just confirmed that this was not the old normal. It’s not the new normal either. Universal is trying their best, given the circumstances, and I give them credit that they’re doing a good job.
I never felt unsafe or even uncomfortable during our trip. I feel my space invaded more when I’m grocery shopping or even moreso when I’m at a home improvement store. Will this continue if the crowds start to get larger? I don’t know. For a while, they can increase capacity by opening more locations, which will make it feel not as crowded. And I think they know that’s what will get people to come back for the short term.
Let’s see how Disney handles the opening of Disney Springs over the next week or two and we’ll get a better handle on where this is eventually going to lead.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary