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Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort became the largest theme park to schedule its reopening when the Florida park was given the ok to do so by the state last week. The resort will see a soft opening beginning June 1 with the general public set to be welcomed back on June 5. However, like its competitor at Disney, Universal is trying to make it clear that, while the theme park is taking a lot of new precautions in an attempt to slow the spread of disease, the guest is the one taking ultimate responsibility for their own safety.

The Universal Orlando plan will require that all guests and team members wear masks and the park will only be opened to a fraction of its capacity, in order for social distancing guidelines to be followed. However, in a message posted to the theme park's website, it is being made clear that the park will not accept any responsibility if you happen to be infected while on property. According to the Universal Orlando Resort website...

[A]ny interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to COVID-19, and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit.

The statement echos one that exists on the Walt Disney World website that was posted ahead of the Disney Springs reopening which took place last week.

While certainly none of the parks want to see a major outbreak on their property, and are taking precautions such as requiring masks and doing extra cleaning to do their part, there's also the issue of liability. The possibility of legal action from somebody infected on theme park property certainly exists and the parks are doing what they can to limit that.

If no such infection happens, then there won't be any issues. If anybody does believe they got infected while in the parks, we could likely see this statement put to the test as far as whether it does enough to limit liability. Courts have previously held that if you voluntarily attend a baseball game you are accepting responsibility for the fact you could get hit with a foul ball. The theme parks are clearly believing that similar responsibility is with the theme park guest in this case.

While there are a lot of people who would probably love to visit a theme park right now (hi) one of the biggest questions is just how many are willing to do so under these circumstances. Disclaimers like this are exactly the sort of thing that might keep some people away as it helps show that the risk, while being managed, is certainly not gone.

In general, it seems likely that even those that might be willing to go probably won't be scheduling major theme park vacations two weeks out that require flights, hotel rooms, and theme park tickets. Instead, we can expect the park will be opening mainly to locals.

Tickets at Universal Orlando Resort are now on sale for dates beginning June 5, and haven't sold out for opening day. While there's still plenty of time for that to happen, the fewer people that go, the safer the experience will be for those that do.

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