The Unofficial Guide to a Socially Distanced Universal Orlando: Dining and Shopping

Socially Distanced Universal Orlando Dining citywalk featured

Reading all about the rides, shows, and kids’ attractions at the Socially Distanced Universal Orlando may have made you hungry to learn more about how restaurants and stores are operating at the reopened resort. If so, grab a fork and dig in as we satisfy your appetite for details about dining and shopping at Universal Orlando in the age of COVID-19.

The restaurants and stores at Universal Orlando are open for business again, and we have all the info you need to know about socially distanced eating and shopping at the resort. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Social distancing policies extend to the Universal Orlando Resort’s restaurants, which will reduce capacity and provide spacing markers for all all queues.

Restaurants may serve limited menus or modify certain offerings due to supply chain restraints making some ingredients unavailable, and select venues—especially outdoor vending carts—may be closed entirely.

Some seating sections will be blocked off, and tables will be sanitized after every guest.

Select third party locations (specifically the Hard Rock Cafe) may require an additional temperature check before entering.

To minimize crowding at the cash registers, Mobile Ordering via the Universal app will be encouraged at many quick-service restaurants.

Menu prices are the same as if ordering at a cashier, and you can customize some entrées and side items (although you should still speak to an employee if you have allergy concerns). The only downsides are that you cannot use the Mobile Ordering with prepaid dining plans, and kids’ meals may not be listed in the app. To use Mobile Ordering, you need to set up your credit card in the Universal app ahead of time, taking care that your billing address is also entered correctly.

Annual passholder discounts are available directly through the app by scanning your pass barcode during checkout.

At some locations (like the Leaky Cauldron), parties will be seated before placing their mobile order, which will be delivered to their table by a server.

At other locations, guests are asked to place their mobile order outside, and they will be notified when their food is ready to pick up from the designated window. After telling the app to prepare your mobile order, notify an employee that you are waiting for food.

Once you’ve received your food, feel free to take it to one of the park’s mask-free U-Rest zones, such as the defunct Sinbad stunt show stadium.

At table-service restaurants, laminated menus will be replaced with single-use paper printouts. Quick-service restaurants will rely on digital menu screens and QR codes that link guests to online menus.

While guests are permitted to remove their masks while seated (and will be provided with complimentary plastic bags for storage), servers will wear masks and gloves. Everything will be delivered on trays, and your server will ask you to take your food rather than touching the plates themselves.
All utensils and condiments will be pre-rolled or individually packaged.

Self-service food options (such as the salad bar and yogurt machines at Cabana Bay’s diner) and buffets will be suspended.

Coke Freestyle beverage dispensers will still be available, but some machines will be disabled to promote distancing.

When it’s time to pay your bill, cash will still be accepted, but using contactless payment methods (like ApplePay and Google Wallet) will be encouraged. Many restaurants have deployed mobile payment terminals for table-side charging, so your credit card won’t disappear into a back room.

Some indoor bars, such as the Hog’s Head, may close, although select outdoor bars and those attached to table-service restaurants should remain open.

At Finnegan’s, for example, guests queue outside while waiting to order drinks rather than crowding against the bar, but there’s still live music to enjoy with your pint.

Shops will also control capacity, with queues to corral prospective shoppers outside, and additional socially distanced lines to complete purchases.

Contactless payments are encouraged, although cash will still be accepted.

Select smaller shops may be closed entirely.

Annual Passholders and other guests may be offered additional discounts to encourage spending.

With the resort reopening just in time for Universal Studios Florida’s 30th anniversary, shops are now sporting some spiffy new retro merchandise.

If you want to avoid crowded stores, many souvenirs can be ordered online at

For all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *