I-Drive businesses banking on Disney’s reopening to bring much-needed financial boost

Smaller attractions struggling to bounce back to pre-pandemic business

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The partial reopening of Walt Disney World, which is set to begin Saturday, is expected to bring visitors to Central Florida and other local attractions are banking on the business.

Many businesses on and near International Drive said the park’s reopening could give them a much-needed boost after a difficult few months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

[READ MORE: Disney World to reopen this week as coronavirus cases soar in Florida | Universal Orlando reopens to some guests; Wheel at ICON Park spins again]

On Monday, I-Drive looked almost like a ghost town. News 6 stopped at Icon Park and spoke with John Goodman, the vice president of sales and marketing, who said the park reopened last month, but the business is still not what it used to be in the days before COVID-19, or compared to this time last year. He said that’s Disney’s reopening means so much.

“Everyone is looking forward to Disney reopening and bringing travelers in from out of town as well,” Goodman said. “Having a major player like Disney open up will help bring some guests to these hotels up and down I-Drive.”

Not far away at Top Golf Orlando, workers said business still hasn’t fully bounced back.

"Most days we are not reaching capacity," said Operations Manager Blake Upchurch. "It has been slow, yes."

Upchurch said he’s hoping things will change soon.

“Disney and Orlando have a long-time partnership, and we’re exited for it to be reopening,” Upchurch said.

Despite the climbing number of coronavirus cases in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference Monday that he has “no doubt” Disney will be a safe environment.

Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, Central Florida’s other two major theme parks, reopened their attractions last month.

In the meantime, many workers along International Drive said they’ve taken steps to make sure customers are safe because of the new COVID-19 restrictions.

About the Author: