Disney, SeaWorld to present theme park reopening plans Wednesday

Both locations underwent inspections

May 2020, News 6 took a look over Disney's Epcot to see changes made during coronavirus closure. Flowers and topiaries have since been removed from this year's Flower and Garden Festival. (WKMG TV)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Leaders from Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando will present their plans Wednesday to reopen their Central Florida theme parks, which have been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he reviewed preliminary plans from both parks Tuesday and sent a team that included inspectors from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County to examine both company’s locations to ensure that they have safety and sanitation protocols in place.

The virtual presentations will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday during the Orange County Economic Task Force’s meeting, which will be streamed here.

Details of those plans weren’t immediately available, but Demings said they will have some similarities to plans that have already been presented from other attractions such as Universal Orlando Resort and Gatorland.

Disney Springs welcomed guests back Wednesday after being shut down for nearly two months due to COVID-19.

One thing he said guests can expect regardless of where they go is signage in multiple different languages reminding them of sanitation measures and social distancing guidelines.

Ultimately, Demings said theme parks need to take all the steps necessary to ensure both employees and visitors stay safe.

“They will walk through many of the details about how they will engage and keep the public safe from the point that they exit their vehicles to the point that they enter the attractions and purchase food or ride on rides and enjoy the other amenities within the attraction,” Demings said.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said earlier this month that guests and cast members will probably be required to wear masks, as is the case at Disney Springs and Shanghai Disneyland.

Reduced capacity, likely at 20% or 30%, is also expected.

SeaWorld Orlando has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic since March 15, and with “full phase one” of reopening Florida in effect, it seems the theme park is testing how visitors would ride a rollercoaster once it’s given the green light to reopen.

SeaWorld’s interim CEO Marc Swanson recently told Vice President Mike Pence during a roundtable discussion that he’d like to see the company’s parks open in mid-June.

Recent photos and videos show spaced out, masked riders conducting test runs on SeaWorld’s Mako rollercoaster.

If Demings approves of the plans, he’ll write a letter of endorsement to the governor seeking final approval from the state.

Already, smaller attractions in Orlando have begun to open. Universal was the first major theme park to get the green light and now has announced that it will begin accepting guests again in early June.

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