It's been so long since we've hopped down the red carpet, screamed our way down the drop on Jurassic World — The Ride and have been shrunk down to Minion size. Our wizard robes and wand hands are ready to get back to our magical place. So you can see that we frogs are hopping excited for the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening!
The State of California handed down guidelines for the reopening of theme parks, so Universal Studios will be able to reopen once Los Angeles county hits the least restrictive tier, Tier 4 (Yellow) as it relates to COVID-19 data. (At the time the guidelines were presented, Los Angeles County was in Tier 1 [Purple] of the 4-Tier system.) Hop over to our post on what to expect when the California theme parks reopen to learn more about that. The guidelines also state that parks must limit capacity to 25 percent and either pre-sell tickets or use a reservation system to manage capacity. All guests must wear face coverings except when eating or drinking. Indoor restaurants are also limited to 25 percent capacity.
While Universal Studios Hollywood does not yet have a reopening date, Universal CityWalk partially reopened in advance of the theme park (with free self parking). We know the park will operate a little differently when it reopens due to COVID-19. The Universal Orlando reopening and the Universal CityWalk Hollywood reopening offer us a glimpse into what Universal Studios Hollywood will be like in terms of social distancing measures, rides, sanitation, characters, dining and, of course, masks. (Yes, face coverings are required.) Let's take a closer look at the health and safety measures we can expect when the theme park reopens!
Universal Studios Hollywood Reopening Health and Safety Procedures
Expect new health measures for the theme park and CityWalk. These guidelines are based on recommendations from health agencies and state/local government.
New health measures in place during the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening include:
- Required face coverings to cover nose and mouth. Universal has masks available for purchase.
- Guests can only remove facial coverings to eat when seated in designated areas.
- People with disabilities can bring a face shield and hop into Guest relations to discuss wearing the shield if they cannot wear a facial covering. Guests cannot wear face shields on some rides.
- The state limits theme park capacity (and indoor restaurants) to 25 percent and mandates that theme parks use a pre-sale ticket reservation system to keep the crowds within those limits.
- Temperature checks upon arrival to CityWalk or Universal Studios Hollywood. Security officers will wave a contactless forehead thermometer in front of guests. Visitors should remove any hats or anything blocking their forehead. Guests with temperatures 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above will not be admitted.
- Guests should maintain proper physical distancing of at least six feet (or two meters) between their party and other parties or employees.
- Where present, guests should stand on floor markings until the group in front moves forward.
- Guests should avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Attendants will stagger parking in garages to maintain distance. No valet parking is available during the initial reopening phase.
- Expect to find social distancing guidelines throughout entertainment venues, restaurants and shops.
New safety measures are in place around the property, including:
- All team members undergo temperature checks and are required to wear masks.
- The park limits capacity to maintain social distancing.
- Employees continuously clean and disinfect tables, chairs, ride vehicles and all high-touch areas.
- Cashless payments are available at all areas (guests can use mobile ordering at select locations).
- Hand sanitizer locations are available throughout the park, and individual bottles are available for purchase.
- Guests must use hand sanitizer before boarding ride vehicles.
- All team members participate in extensive training.
- Interactive play areas will be temporarily unavailable.
- Single Rider lines will be temporarily closed.
- The use of Virtual Queues will be expanded.
What to Expect When Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood
Virtual Line Pass
During the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening, you can expect changes to the line system. Note signage and floor markings to remind you where to stand. Some rides may offer a Virtual Line through the Universal Studios Hollywood app, similar to the Virtual Line System used in Orlando. Some rides have both a standby queue and as virtual queue. But it can vary per ride. You can still use Universal Express to skip the lines at Universal Orlando, so we expect you can use it in Hollywood. The app shows it will at least be available for the new ride, The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash. You cannot join a Virtual Line until you have entered the park for the day.
A New Ride
We have something exciting to look forward to when Universal Studios Hollywood reopens. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash ride will be opening soon. Lily is extra excited as this ride works for smaller tadpoles with its height requirement of 34 inches!
Restaurants and Mobile Ordering
Restaurants offer mobile order and contactless payment. If you haven't already, download the Universal Studios Hollywood app. It's always a helpful resource for finding shows and wait times. But now it will be especially useful for ordering food and joining Virtual Lines.
Changes to Ride Seating and Sanitizing
In order to promote social distancing, ride queues will have signage to indicate where to stand. Universal will seat you with your party. Depending on the ride vehicle, ride attendants may skip rows or give your party its own vehicle. The team members will sanitize and disinfect the ride vehicles.
U-Rest Relaxation Zones
Wearing a mask all day in the warm sunshine can be difficult. Look for U-Rest Relaxation Zones around the park where you can have a seat and literally take a breather by removing your mask. Parties will have room to space themselves away from other parties.
Shows and Play Areas
The park will close shows and play areas for some time. If you have a tadpole, expect to find the play structures closed and plan accordingly.
Your favorite characters will still visit with you and entertain you. You just can't get too close to them. In Orlando, some characters wear masks. Others may be far enough away that they can go without. They may be behind a low barrier or elevated. You can still chat and wave and take a socially distant pic, but you will not be getting that high five or hug for some time.
Universal Mask Souvenirs
Universal Studios Hollywood sells masks in case you want to get your Universal spirit on or are looking for a unique souvenir that will be useful for the next several months. It's also good to know where to purchase a new mask should you lose yours on a ride or get it dirty or wet. You can hop by CityWalk to purchase one if you cannot wait for the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening.
Wand Pairing at Ollivanders
One of our favorite things to do in the Wizarding World is to hop into Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 BC for a wand pairing. Usually the wand maker chooses a young witch or wizard from the small audience to demonstrate a wand pairing. In Orlando, during the reopening period, only one party may enter at a time. You can check with an attendant to get a return time to experience the wand pairing. And you don't have to be skilled in legilimency (mind-reading to any muggles — or nonmagical folk — out there) to know what that means. Someone in your party will definitely get picked! Cameras (without flash) ready?
If you will be purchasing a wand, you might want to hop over to Tad's posts on wands. You'll find Choosing a Wand at the Wizarding World in Hollywood and Toadally Cool Wizarding World of Harry Potter Spells at Universal Studios Hollywood most hopful.
What to Expect at Universal CityWalk
Universal CityWalk reopened before the theme park June 10 with free self parking. A limited number of restaurants and shops are open, which we detail in our CityWalk Hollywood guide. CityWalk Hollywood will comply with health and state/local government guidelines. The same guidelines for the theme park apply to CityWalk. VooDoo Doughnut, anyone?
This holiday season, you can get hot, cold or frozen Butterbeer (and other sweets) at CityWalk at the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Sweets & Treats location. Yum! Be aware that at least through mid-December, all indoor and outdoor dining is paused. Some locations are open for takeout. We keep the most updated list of open restaurants and stores in our CityWalk post.
Are you excited to make some magic during the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening? If you need tickets for your next visit, you can get a hoppin' deal on discount Universal Studios Hollywood Resort tickets, Universal Express tickets and even VIP Tours.