Movie theaters across America are beginning to reopen, and acclaimed director Christopher Nolan’s anticipated sci-fi epic Tenet is leading the return of new blockbuster films to cinemas, including the Universal Cinemark. The theater at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk was among the locations participating in “early release” screenings of Tenet ahead of its official debut on September 3rd, and we were there on opening night to see how the moviegoing experience has changed.
The Universal Cinemark cineplex at Universal Orlando CityWalk is currently open seven days a week, showing a combination of new releases and revived classics.
The theater box office is staffed, but guests are encouraged to use online ticketing for a contact-free experience.
There are signs outside and throughout the theater explaining the current safety policies, including the mandatory usage of masks.
Inside the lobby, the ticket-taking staff is protected behind Plexiglass barriers.
Universal Cinemark’s snack bar is open, with the addition of ubiquitous social-distancing markers.
The snack bar menu is currently limited, but prices have been lowered to compensate.
Freestyle Coke drink dispensers are operational, but free refills of soda and popcorn are temporarily suspended.
Beer and wine are still available at the snack bar, but the Cinecafe full-service bar in the lower lobby is closed.
Before entering the screening room, check out the new sanitation procedures that Cinemark is practicing.
I chose to see Tenet on Universal Cinemark’s XD large-format screen because it features extra-wide aisles with barriers between each row.
All of the XD theater’s luxury loungers use reserved seating, and guests are guaranteed a couple of empty seats between themselves and the next party.
At first, I thought I was going to have my entire row in the rear of the theater nearly all to myself. As luck would have it, people walked in 15 minutes after showtime and sat down two seats away on either side of me. Even so, I had more than 6 feet between myself and the nearest audience member.
The most awkward part of the experience was attempting to eat and drink my snacks with a minimum of mask removal. I ended up chugging my beverage within the first half-hour—and leaving more than half my popcorn uneaten—rather than repeatedly removing my face covering.
As for the film itself, perhaps the less said the better. For one, because I wouldn’t want to spoil any details of the secretive plot, which is a brain-bending spy thriller involving a unique twist on time travel. For another, although it has a handful of spectacular action set-pieces, I found the film almost completely incomprehensible on my first viewing.
Cinematic criticism aside, I felt as “safe” seeing a film at Universal Cinemark as I do on any of the attractions at Universal Orlando, which is to say “not as safe as in my own home, but better than the local supermarket.” Of course, everyone’s tolerance for risk varies, so I won’t blame you for waiting until a true must-see movie arrives before heading back inside the cinema.
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.