SHORT TAKES : Universal Florida Opens ‘Softly’

From Times Wire Services

The $600-million Universal Studios Florida is beginning a six-week shakedown by opening up some of its rides and shows to small groups before its official June 7 inaugural. Universal employees, construction crews, vendors and their families are invited into the park on evenings and on weekends for the next three weeks.

“A soft opening gives us the chance to gauge how the public will react when they come in . . . to fine-tune so that there are no glitches,” said spokesman Doug Binder.

The average attendance is expected to be about 16,000 daily, or about 6 million a year, Universal executives say.