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Why Universal Studios Is Tightening Pandemic Restrictions

Universal Studios Hollywood front gate

Theme parks are open once again and while things are mostly back to normal, there is still a lot of uncertainty when comes to the delta variant of the coronavirus. This has led different states, different counties, and even different cities, to take very different approaches to places like restaurants, stadiums, and theme parks. What sort of rules are in place is very dependent on where you are. And right now, being in Los Angeles County means seeing some brand new rules that means that Universal Studios Hollywood is about to become the biggest theme park in the nation to require proof of vaccination to enter.

A new Los Angeles County health ordinance is going into effect October 7 that means that entry into places like Universal Studios will require proof of full vaccination for all guests 12 and over. The alternative is that guests may show a negative test that is no more than 72 hours old. Full vaccination means that it must be 14-days from your second dose, which means that if you're not already at least a week into your second dose, you won't be able to get in when the new rule takes effect.

If you can't show you are vaccinated, you won't be allowed entry into the park. Rules at neighboring Disneyland, located in Orange County, ask guests who are not vaccinated to wear masks outdoors (everybody is required to wear them indoors) and not wearing a mask is supposed to mean that guest attests to being vaccinated, but at no point is proof required. That won't be the case at Universal.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the new rules impact attendance at the theme park. One would have to assume that some percentage of guests previously were unvaccinated, but it's impossible to know how many. Certainly the vaccination requirement is meant, in part, to encourage people to get vaccinated. It will take some time to see if that works. For those that are vaccinated, Universal Studios Hollywood may be about to become a very easy park to get into with much lower than usual crowds.

This does have the potential to seriously impact the currently ongoing Halloween Horror Nights event. The spooky season is one of the most popular for Universal Studios and a lot of people may have already bought tickets for nights close to Halloween, that may now have trouble getting in. The fact is that if you had tickets for HHN on Halloween night and are not already on the way to being vaccinated, it's impossible to be "fully" vaccinated by October 31.

This will likely also be a headache for Universal Studios team members who now have to verify vaccination status. It is perhaps a worthwhile headache, but I don't envy those who will need to deal with guests who have "issues" with the new rules.

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.