Going back to Orlando during COVID-19

Orlando is my second favorite place to go for a week or weekend getaway either with my family or alone (Puerto Rico is the first). I used to live in the city and my closest friends are still there; not to mention that I am an avid theme parks fan so going to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando always make me feel home.

Since we’ve been social distancing at home since March 16th (yes, I’ve been counting) it made sense for me and my family to go back to the city as soon as the parks began announcing re-openings (Universal Orlando opened June 5th, SeaWorld opens June 11th and Walt Disney World opens July 11th). Even though I didn’t go to any of the theme parks, I did stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort for the weekend and had a chance to experience the “new normal” during COVID-19.

The first thing I noticed when driving to the entrance of the hotel was that there was no valet parking and that it was pretty empty. This is my third time staying at this hotel so I am very familiar with how busy it always is. Nonetheless, neither the absence of valet parking or the emptiness came as a surprise because well… corona. This was also the night before Universal Orlando theme parks reopened so I wasn’t expecting a flood of people.

There was two employees at the main entrance greeting us with their masks and gloves on, ready to take our temperature to make sure we weren’t sick. Once they took our temperature they gave us a wristband to wear during our stay so that we didn’t need to have our temperature checked every time. They are not fancy wristbands so I took mine off before bed and was ready to get a new one the next day if needed, but at least at the hotel it seemed like they were only taking people’s temperature in the main entrance so I didn’t get scanned again.

While we were checking in they let us know they were not doing room service or cleaning the rooms every day so we had to send them a text whenever we needed something and they would come and take care of it. The text service is amazing by the way. As a millennial who prefers texting over phone calls, I truly appreciate this technology.

Every time we texted we got response right away. Whenever we needed clean towels or for the trash to be taken out we got our requests met in a timely manner. We would usually make the requests before leaving the room so there was nobody there when they came or, if late at night, we would just leave the trash by the door and they would come and pick it up.

We spent majority of the time at the pool and even though they only had one of the pools open, you could tell the resort wasn’t busy because there was plenty of space for everyone to safely social distance. They ask everyone to wear masks while in the public areas of the hotel with the exception of the pool, and overall you could see every guest was following these guidelines. The floors have signs showing where you need to stand while in line to buy food, at the gift store and the check-in line.

Overall, it was a good experience. It definitely feels weird that this is the new normal, but it seems like everyone is happy to comply. Public areas are kept clean, and they have blocked access through some of the doors and gates to make sure everyone goes in and out through the same areas (I assume to minimize the risk of spreading).

The next visit to town will be Fourth of July weekend where we will be visiting SeaWorld and Aquatica so I will be writing about that experience after we come back. For now, if you’re near the Orlando area, dying to take a weekend trip but are unsure how the environment will be, don’t worry. Go ahead and take that trip – you won’t regret it.