Universal Studios’ parks extend closures through May
Universal Studios Orlando resort and Hollywood theme park has been closed since March 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and while they originally announced they would be closed until the end of March, that time has come and gone with the park remaining shuttered & they will continue to be that way throughout May.
Universal released a statement saying that the parks will remain closed at least through May 31. Once the end of March deadline approached, they extended the closure until April 19 but with no real end in sight for the “stay at home” orders, they pushed the date through May since it was clear they wouldn’t be able to open on April 19. In the statement, they state that the coronavirus “has impacted many parts of your life including your travel and vacation plans,” but that they will “be eager to welcome” guests back to the theme parks and destinations when the time comes.” The closure extension also applies to Universal CityWalk, the shopping district next to Universal Studios Hollywood, and the hotels at Universal Orlando Resort.
The news of the extension comes relatively soon after Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park & Walt Disney World, which also closed March 14 and had also announced plans to remain closed until the end of the month, decided to keep their doors closed until further notice. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor in Valencia, as well as Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, will remain closed until mid-May, according to the parks’ websites.
The big question on many people’s minds is how will the parks and resorts accommodate those who bought advanced tickets for certain dates or hold annual passes? The Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood have said they will extend the expiration date of this year’s annual passes for a period equivalent to the number of days that the parks remain closed. Universal said tickets purchased for March 14 through May 31 will be extended for use until December 18 & annual passes will be extended by the number of days that the parks are closed and monthly payments have been paused.
Universal is also trying to take care of their staff across their locations that abruptly lost their jobs due to the sudden closures over the pandemic. Starting April 20, nearly all of the workers at Universal Studios and Universal Orlando Resort will be paid 80% of their salary and will be asked to adjust their work schedule accordingly, Universal said in a statement. A small group of Universal theme park workers will continue to work their regular schedule and earn 100% of their salaries, but all part-time hourly workers will be furloughed starting May 3, the company said. Health benefits will be extended to those workers who currently get benefits, including hourly workers who are furloughed. Disney previously said they will pay their workers through April 19 but no word as of yet if that will be extended since the parks will be closed until further notice.
I can only speak of California since I live in Los Angeles but Governor Newsom has pointed out that our numbers are encouraging when it comes to bending the curve and getting to a place where we can talk about getting back to some kind of normalcy in the state. These closures, no matter how daunting they have been, have certainly helped since most of us have quarantined and remained inside unless it was to get necessities for the home or to go to work if you have a job that has been deemed essential employment. I hope that we’re getting closer and closer to getting these places up and running again because the workers need their jobs and it will be nice to have a place to escape to again when these places are ready to open to the public when the time is right.
Do YOU think the parks will be closed longer than the targeted date of May 31?