Orange County, Florida officials gave Universal Orlando a passing grade on an Jan. 8 inspection to see if the park was complying with local orders requiring physical distancing and face masks in public areas.
Employees from the county’s fire, health, and code enforcement departments — dubbed “Orange County Business Compliance Assistance Team” — have been periodically visiting major tourist attractions like theme parks. The inspections do not come with a great deal of detail; parks are either found to be in compliance or not in compliance and typically, only negative findings come with an explanation.
Both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure have passed previous inspections. The most recent visit came after heavy crowds over the holidays saw the two parks repeatedly hit their COVID-19-reduced capacity soon after opening.
Pictures of guests crowded close together with little regard to physician distancing guidelines had drawn a response from the official Twitter account of the Orange County, Mayor’s office.
Hello! Our team will route your complaint to our Strike Teams for a visit. Thank you for letting us know.
— Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings (@OCFLMayor) December 28, 2020
Despite this Twitter interaction, the Universal inspection was marked by Orange County as a “proactive” visit initiated by the county, rather than arising from a citizen complaint.
Universal and other Central Florida theme parks have also maintained capacity restrictions even though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave parks the OK in September to operate at full capacity. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said in December that the Orlando parks were still limiting attendance to 35 percent of its typical maximum capacity. He also said that “when you factor in all the distancing and the protocols, you really can’t put more than 35 percent.”
Other Orlando-area tourist attractions have passed county inspections since the beginning of the year, including SeaWorld Orlando, Disney Springs, and Gatorland.
Two additional visits were based on customer complaints. While guests alleged face mask rules weren’t being enforced at both Icon Park, the dining and attractions complex along International Drive known for the 400-foot-tall landmark The Wheel, and Universal Boulevard’s Andretti Indoor Karting, county inspectors found both attractions to be in compliance with local orders.
Fun Spot America’s Orlando location has been the one repeat offender when it comes to flouting COVID-19 rules. The park — whose owner has spread anti-face mask misinformation — failed four county inspections, in addition to private “secret shopper” reports obtained by Theme Park Tribune. It was found to be in compliance in its last two county visits.
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