Disney, Universal, SeaWorld in Florida plan for reopenings with restrictions

Universal Orlando Resort plans to open to a limited number of visitors June 3, and ramp up capacity as conditions allow. File Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort plans to open to a limited number of visitors June 3, and ramp up capacity as conditions allow. File Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

ORLANDO, Fla., May 21 (UPI) -- Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld in Florida plan limited reopenings in June or early July, with restrictions on guests, after being shuttered for 11 weeks or more due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The three theme park giants have not released plans for reopening in California, which has different restrictions than Florida. Disneyland's website says only that the Anaheim attraction is closed through May 31.


Universal Orlando's plan to open its Orlando parks on June 3 or 4 to invited guests and season-pass holders was approved Thursday by a task force of local business people, along with health, government and economic officials. The public would be admitted starting June 5.

After county officials sign off on the plan, it will go to Gov. Ron Desantis for his review.

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Universal started its reopening effort May 14 with limited guests -- and required masks and temperature checks -- at its free-admission CityWalk area, which features restaurants and retail shops.

Disney opened a free-admission retail, dining and entertainment area, called Disney Springs, on Monday with similar restrictions. Disney World has four parks in its complex -- the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom -- that remain closed.


A reservations specialist at Disney World said Thursday that the resort is taking hotel bookings for arrivals starting July 1, adding that no date for reopening the parks has been set.

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Neither Disney World nor SeaWorld have presented formal plans to reopen their Florida theme parks. A SeaWorld executive told Vice President Mike Pence at a recent public forum that he hoped to open the aquatic themed park in mid-June.

Orlando plays host to 75 million visitors per year, according to state and local tourism officials. As the world's top tourism destination, it contributes to a large extent to the local economy.

Universal looks like it will be the first to re-open and learn from the procedures it follows.

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"We're going to manage capacity, not only across the resort, but also in every attraction," said John Sprouls, chief administrative officer for Universal Parks & Resorts.

The company will require visitors and all employees to wear masks and will provide a free mask if guests arrive without one. Cash will be accepted, but in limited locations and with extra sanitary precautions.

Social distancing of 6 feet or more will be required in all areas, especially in lines and on rides, Sprouls said.


Employees are to monitor guest compliance throughout the park.

Universal employees will report to the theme parks on June 1 to prepare for the reopening and are subject to daily temperature checks. Employees also must answer questions about any possible exposure to COVID-19.

Visitors will be asked to take their temperature at home. Sproules said the Citywalk operation has taken 30,000 temperature readings, which has "gone extremely smoothly."

"We have only had a handful of people with temperature over 100.4 [F]," he said. "There have been very few objections to the rules, the masks. Most people are just happy to be out."

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