Universal takes first steps reviving Orlando theme park biz

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In this Wednesday, June 3, 2020 photo, signs about social distancing and other protocols are seen about the theme park as guests walk by at Universal Orlando Resort Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. The theme park reopened for season pass holders and will open to the general public on Friday, June 5. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

ORLANDO, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — With masks on their faces and temperature checks at entrances, Harry Potter fans and roller coaster lovers streamed back into Universal Orlando Resort this week in one of the first major steps toward reviving Florida’s theme park industry, which was left temporarily moribund by closures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Universal Orlando became the first of Orlando's major theme park resorts to reopen by allowing annual pass-holders to return to its three parks Wednesday and Thursday. It will open to the general public Friday for the first time since mid-March.

“We missed the parks desperately!" said Donna Walters, who wore a pink scarf over her mouth and nose Wednesday after walking past a security checkpoint where a guard took her temperature with a thermometer gun.

If her temperature had been 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) or greater, she would have been barred from entry under new virus-related procedures adapted by Universal Orlando and the area's other theme parks. The number of people allowed in was restricted to allow for social distancing, blue circles on the ground showed visitors where to stand to maintain 6-feet (2 meters) distance and a recording in English and Spanish played in a loop over loudspeakers at the entrance reminding park-goers to wear face masks and keep their distance.