ORLANDO, Fla — It's official -- almost.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings sent his letter of approval for Universal Orlando to reopen to Governor Ron DeSantis' office Friday morning.
The county's economic recovery task force gave initial approval to the theme park company's plan to reopen the gates, which have been shut since March.
Now, that plan will go to Gov. Ron DeSantis' Office for the final green light.
Under the plan, the theme parks would reopen on June 1 for team members. Then, on June 3-4, some annual passholders would be allowed in. The parks would formally reopen to the public on June 5, if the state approves the plan.
When guests return, there will be changes. County leaders toured the parks today and were given a list of changes Universal Orlando intends to implement. Those changes include additional screening and sanitation along with more touchless experiences.
"I wouldn't have any expectation these parks are going to be what you remember prior to COVID-19," said theme park safety expert and University of Florida professor Brian Avery. "There's obviously going to be quite a few changes."
Guests and employees will be given temperature checks, and the parks will promote social distancing. Both will also be required to wear masks.
There will be limited capacity in lines and gift shops to help with that distancing. Signage will be placed across the park to assist guests in staying separated.
No children's play areas will be opened -- at least not at first. And, Universal Orlando says it will reduce or eliminate mist areas.
Guests can also say goodbye to the single rider line and post-show entertainment meet and greet opportunities which are set to be eliminated when the parks reopen.
As for dining, all menus will be single-use paper and thrown away. Payments will move to contactless, though the park said it will not completely rule out cash.
Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, says not only will parks have to create new rules, but they'll have to enforce them too.
"They’re going to have some risk," Dr. Marty said. "The bottom line is the devil is in the details. You have to figure out exactly what they’re doing and how well people are going to comply with those things."
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