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SYFY WIRE Universal Orlando

WIRE Buzz: Universal Orlando eyes June reopening; 'Washed Up' Little Mermaid series to Peacock; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Universal Studios Orlando Getty Images

Dust off the cobwebs that have gathered at Diagon Alley, because Universal Studios in Orlando has set a target date to reopen its Florida park resort, after remaining closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The theme park home of King Kong, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and more plans to reopen to guests on June 5 with a lot of public health-minded changes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Universal Orlando, along with its Universal Hollywood sibling, has been closed since March 15. For now, there’s no word on Universal Hollywood’s reopening plans.

Longtime guests who return when the Orlando park opens again will reportedly see some significant changes. Those include crowd metering to reduce the number of people inside the park, six-foot distancing signage and enforcement for all attraction and food queues, single-use paper menus in all park restaurants, and an emphasis on other forms of payment than cash — which still will be accepted, though not encouraged. As officials monitor the restart, limits on inside-the-park crowd capacity are expected to gradually be lifted, reports THR.

In addition, both employees and guests reportedly will be required to wear face masks and have their temperature checked upon entry, with the park supplying masks for guests who don’t bring their own. Outdoor mist cooling areas also are reported to remain closed, and post-show character meets-and-greets nixed — at least for the time being.

Universal Orlando is the first of the major U.S. theme parks to eye a reopening date that actually allows guests through the turnstiles. Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk, both in Orlando and both public-facing shopping areas on the outer grounds of their respective theme parks, began greeting their first guests back last week.

Peacock is conjuring up a new live-action Little Mermaid tale — though the only DNA it shares with the Disney version is the classic Hans Christian Andersen story on which both are based.

Deadline reports that Peacock is developing a live-action comedy titled Washed Up, a follow-up series to Andersen’s original The Little Mermaid story that sounds way, way more grounded in real-world struggles than Disney’s animated fantasy. Executive produced and written by Gracie Glassmeyer (Jane the Virgin, No Tomorrow), Washed Up will catch up with our (formerly) fin-tailed hero 15 years after the end of Andersen's fairy tale.

Things sound like they start out pretty meh for our mermaid years after she’s lost her tail in what seemed like the bargain of a lifetime to marry her human dream prince. Now “miserable, unmotivated and in a loveless marriage,” according to the report, she’s jarred out of her rut by the suspicious death of her father, which sets her off “on an epic adventure to save not only her underwater kingdom but all of humankind.”

There's no early word on when Washed Up might, well, wash up at Peacock. But it'll be joining a growing list of originals that'll also include a new Battlestar Galactica series, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired comedy The Adventure Zone, and more.

ABC is turning out the lights on Emergence, just as the series’ deepest mysteries were starting to…emerge. The paranormal thriller with Stranger Things vibes won’t be back for the network’s 2020-2021 broadcast season, according to an ABC announcement.

Emergence unspooled its overarching mystery through a debut season of 13 episodes, with the Season 1 finale, “Killshot Pt. 2,” leaving fans anticipating a second season serving up the next big expansion to the show’s creepy twists of weird electrical phenomena, covered-up conspiracy, and unexplained events.

All of it centered on a young girl/self-evolving AI named Piper (Alexa Swinton), the lone survivor of a plane crash whose strange abilities unfold once she’s taken in by Jo, the local police chief (Allison Tolman). Donald Faison, Clancy Brown, Owain Yeoman, Robert Bailey Jr., and Zabryna Guevara also starred.