Universal Studios Hollywood theme park will reopen shops and restaurants on weekends at its Universal City campus beginning March 12, nearly a year after the park closed its gates at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, while state regulations promise the reopening of all theme parks at limited capacity as soon as April 1.

The Universal Studios reopening is centered around an outdoor dining and shopping event called “Taste of Universal,” which encourages patrons to buy food, shop and walk the upper lot of the park, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area. Costumed characters will be on site throughout the 415-acre park and available for distanced photo shoots.

Universal said it would hire back several hundred employees who have been furloughed since the park closed last spring.

Tickets for Taste of Universal, which will run Fridays through Sundays from noon to 7 p.m., cost $44 for adults and $25 for kids. Several food options from the park’s roughly 70 restaurants are included with the price of admission.

Rides, shows and other park attractions won’t operate yet, but under revised guidelines issued by the state on Friday, theme parks could open April 1 at 15 percent capacity provided the county where the park is located has reached the red tier in the state's “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” system. The reopening does not include indoor rides.

Masks and social distancing are required at Taste of Universal, as they are at the adjacent Universal CityWalk shopping center, which has been open at limited capacity since June.

In a similar effort, Burbank’s Walt Disney Co. announced it will reopen its California Adventure theme park in Anaheim March 18 with a dining and shopping event called “A Touch of Disney.” Tickets are available for $75.