When Orlando theme parks reopen (and they will), there will undoubtedly be some changes that will take the public by surprise. Sure, there will be things we expect like social distancing markers and tons of signage reminding everyone to wash their hands often. However, how will parks handle their performers? We actually think we may have some insight as to how Universal Orlando will be presenting their “face characters” once they reopen.
Recently, Citywalk opened at Universal Orlando Resort after being closed for weeks due to COVID-19. While seating was limited at restaurants and there was little to do, this was the first “toe in the water” for a major local theme park resort to test how guests will react to social distancing changes. The most interesting could be found at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium where their characters made appearances wearing new face masks.
These two characters, known at Penelope Toothsome and Jacques, have roamed the popular eatery since it debuted in 2016. Since CityWalk has recently reopened, they have still been greeting guests from a distance. Most interesting is they are wearing face masks. Granted, these characters are created by Universal and are not tied to a particular movie franchise. For the average guest, it isn’t that jarring to see these two wearing face masks because they don’t have an emotional connection to them.
There are no Penelope and Jacques television shows, movies or lunchboxes. As far as many guests who will be visiting CityWalk know for the next few months: maybe they always wore face masks? On the other hand, what happens when Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida reopen? Our sources say that all face characters (those who you can see their actual face and not hidden by a fake “head”) will all be wearing face masks, just like Penelope and Jacques.
This means you will see the Marvel gang: Captain America, Wolverine, Storm and the rest all wearing masks when the parks reopen (doubtful Spider-Man will wear one). Our understanding is that photo opportunities where guests can have their picture taken with characters will be eliminated. However, they will still be doing a cavalcade and behind a roped-off area interacting with guests from a short distance, similar to what you see above with Penelope and Jacques.
This also applies to most of the Scooby Doo gang. Granted, Scoob has no need to wear one. However, Shaggy, Daphne, Velma and Fred all should be donning themed masks. This would also apply to other roaming characters such as Betty Boop and Doc Brown.
However, the face mask rule would not apply to performers working at stage shows. The Blues Brothers, Horror Make-Up Show and even the new Bourne Spectacular won’t feature actors wearing any kind of face masks due to their distance away from guests. Be prepared: there will be changes to performances in order to keep actors more distant from the audience depending on the venue. This means that certain parts of the shows with guest interactions will be rewritten.
Keep in mind, all of this is subject to change. However, we have heard that this is Universal Orlando’s play moving forward and it will most likely trickle into all the other parks as well. The question is: are you ready to see Shaggy, Captain America and Doc Brown wearing a face mask?
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