Universal Orlando Resort is bringing Harry Potter back.
The resort's post-coronavirus operating plan received government approval this week, so Universal's two theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (including the two halves of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, pictured), will be back in business on Friday, June 5.
Mind you, it will be a dramatically different business.
Here are a few of the rules that will be in place (outlined in a press release):
• Guests must wear masks or cloth coverings over the nose and mouth. (Souvenir alert! Masks will be available for sale.)
• Staff will also wear masks.
• Both guests and staff will have their temperatures checked, and anyone with a temperature over 100.4° Fahrenheit will not be allowed in.
• Overall attendance and attractions will only have curtailed capacity, which for rides and shows means staggered seating, in compliance with social distancing advisories.
• Everyone is required to use free hand sanitizer before boarding rides (so if your hands tend to dry out, you might want to bring some moisturizer).
• Guests will be encouraged to use prepaid mobile ordering at food outlets (which requires a download of the free Official Universal Orlando Resort App).
• Some attraction queues will operate with "Virtual Line" advance reservation technology, which also uses the app.
Interestingly, although Universal surveyed customers in April to ask if they would agree to rapid Covid-19 testing before entry, such testing did not make it into the final plan.
At first, the theme parks will only be open from 9am to 6pm. The connecting CityWalk shopping-and-dining area is already open, and its hours extend to 10pm.
Universal's Volcano Bay water slide park will also open June 5, and it, too, will close late in the afternoon.
These operational measures are being tested by the seat of all of our pants, so tweaks to these rules should be expected as we go along.
Universal will not be the first Orlando theme park to reopen. That distinction belongs to Legoland Florida, which returns Monday, June 1, with a maximum capacity of 6,000 guests per day allowed to roam the park's 145 acres.
In the last week of May, Universal's big Orlando rival Walt Disney World will present its own reopening plan, and an announcement about the return of its four theme parks and two water slide parks is expected soon afterward.
The Frommer's guide to Universal Orlando is in our downloadable ebook guide to central Florida.