Universal Orlando Theme Parks Reopening Preview

It’s been a few months since the last time we walked through the Universal Orlando Theme Parks, but that has all started to change.  On June 5th, 2020 the Universal Parks was reopening with some new procedures and guidelines.  However, I was able to get a preview the day before to check out the parks and see if anything has changed.  Plus I wanted to visit all the pressed penny machines.

For this preview, I had to go online about a week before and try to secure a reservation and then had to choose a specific entry time into the parks.  I believe this was their way of trying to spread out the guest entry so everyone wasn’t there all at once.  My entry time was 10am, and once I had parked by in the garage around 9:00am there was no wait to have my temperature checked, and little to no line through the security checkpoint.  Before I knew it I was back in CityWalk and decided to visit Islands of Adventure first.

Unfortunately, the weather throughout the day was pretty crappy.  It rained most of the day, and the humidity was pretty high.  But being back in the park I wasn’t going to let mother nature ruin my adventure.

First up I do want to say that I was able to visit almost all of the pressed penny machines in both parks.  There were a couple that was in areas no open on this day.  I’m not going to review all the machines here since most of them have not changed and you can check out my previous post on the parks here if you are interested.

Crowd levels were pretty light on this day so I used the opportunity to hop on some attractions I don’t always get to experience.  One of my favorites is the Adventures of Spider-Man ride and I literally walked right on with no wait in the queue.  There was a team member at the end of the queue dispensing hand sanitizer to everyone before you get into the ride vehicle.  I was the only guest in the vehicle and had a nice private experience through the ride.  Afterward, I exited into the gift shop and the two penny machines are still here.

I passed through the rest of Superhero Island and then into Toon Lagoon.  Nothing much going on here.  Most of the machines were still available, but the Betty Boop store was not open for some reason so that machine could not be accessed.

Did I mention low crowds?  As you can see from the above picture there were some areas with absolutely no one around.

The Jurassic Park area was a little busier.  The River Adventure attraction was open, but with the rain, I didn’t feel the need to get even more soaked on that ride so I just passed through.

There were a few new additions since my last visit, like the new entrance to the Raptor Encounter which I thought looked like it was right out of the movies.

Also down near the lagoon in the middle of the park was lots of track for the new Raptor Coaster coming later this year…maybe?!?

Over in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was were most of the crowd seemed to be, but this was also far from normal levels.

 I had plenty of room to walk around and really was able to enjoy this area of the park.  Even the Butterbeer carts had small lines.

Nearby in the Lost Continent, they had a nice section called a U-Rest Area.  Each park has 2 of these areas for guests to use.  It allows you somewhere to go and remove your mask for a bit of a breather.  You can sit anywhere you like in the area as long as you are socially distancing from other guests.

The last section of this park was Seuss Landing which I always really enjoy.  Probably from my childhood filled with reading all those famous books.

This area was almost completely deserted as I headed through.  Very few people here, and seemed like most were just passing through as they headed back towards the  Harry Potter area.

On my way out of Islands of Adventure, I did stop through the Trading Company and all the pressed penny machines were unchanged but still available for use.

I cut through CityWalk over to Universal Studios and they had a float vehicle out front for some unique photo ops.

Hollywood Boulevard was really empty.  I think back to this area during Halloween Horror Nights and the comparison is just night and day.

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to ride the E.T. Adventure attraction.  The posted wait time was 20 minutes which is not too bad.  However, the line extended well out into this courtyard due to everyone standing 6 feet apart.  My wait time was closer to 30 minutes in total but had a great ride on this classic attraction.

Springfield from The Simpsons was a little busier.  It did seem that the Duff Brewery bar was quite a happening place.  I guess people were really having withdrawal of Duff beer and needed a refresher.

Over in Diagon Alley, the crowds were noticeably lighter.  This area would normally be packed shoulder to shoulder with people taking pictures and waiting for the Gringotts Dragon to breathe fire.

The longest line back here was for Butterbeer which of course is a necessity when visiting the parks.  I couldn’t turn one down so I hopped in line and waited about 10 minutes for my frothy drink.

Just outside King’s Cross Station was a nice homage to the Jaws attraction which was removed and replaced with Diagon Alley.  Which is a nice segway…

I usually try to check in with Bruce the Shark when I’m in this area.  I still wish they would make him move periodically as that would be fun to watch unsuspecting guests get a little too close.

In past posts, I’ve reviewed the Pressed Penny machine that is near Bruce the Shark.  I’ve even shown how it made a guest appearance in the movie Sharknado 3.  The machine has been untouched for quite a while, but on this visit, I noticed that two of the designs had changed.

Do you notice the two new designs on the marquee pictured above?

If you are a Hello Kitty fan you may notice one right away.  In the Hello Kitty store in the park, I’ve seen this design on some t-shirts and posters, and each time I’ve got to work on my willpower to not buy it.  But it’s so darn cute.  Thankfully now I have a cool pressed penny with the image instead and it only cost me 50 cents.  The second design is also a fun one with Amity Island Jaws listed on it.

In my review of the CityWalk reopening, I mentioned that none of the machines had hand sanitizer dispensers nearby.  But worry not, Universal has you covered if you need by selling little bottles for $3.  I picked one up just to make sure I always had some available and promptly used it after finishing up with the penny machine.

At this time of day all of a sudden the skies opened up and the rain really made itself known.  I got stuck under the cover at Mel’s Drive-In which I then used as an opportunity to get some lunch.  Unfortunately due to the limited capacity inside I had to wait about 45 minutes for a table which then required you to use their Mobile App to place my order which was eventually brought out to my table.

Eventually, the rain held off for a little while so I could try and make my way back towards the entrance/exit of the park.

Before heading out I did stop in at the Universal Studio Store and confirmed all the penny machines were still here.  I quickly cut through the store and headed out the exit, through CityWalk and to my car just before more rain decided to come down.  Well, that’s Florida for you!

Let me go over a few things after this trip.  I did notice the above Stickers were on almost all of the pressed penny machines throughout both parks.  It reviews the Treatment that is being used in the parks and even the machine vendor had a sticker about Health & Saftey precautions.  I was glad to see these show-up and at least acknowledge that the penny machines are high use items that need to be cleaned frequently.

Unlike my visit to CityWalk a couple weeks prior, on this day I did notice on numerous accounts Team Members cleaning the penny machines.  They did not do this after each person used them, but I was happy to see that they were being cleaned at all.  In the past on all my visits to the parks, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a machine being cleaned so this is definitely a plus.  I’m happy with how my visit went and the low crowds were a definite perk.  How long this will go on for I just don’t know but I think Universal has done a great job so far and just hope they continue to keep it up.

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