Disney, Universal hit ‘limited capacity’ during Labor Day weekend

Disney’s online Park Pass reservation system, as well as Universal Orlando’s online ticket system, revealed that all parks at both properties hit limited capacity Saturday.

It appears to be the first time both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World hit limited capacity at all their parks in the same day since pandemic began. However, it is not clear how many people each park currently allows.

During a roundtable discussion in May, Disney executive George Kalogridis said the company was considering reopening its U.S. parks with 20% to 30% capacity.

We also know that in order to enter one of the Florida theme parks, guests need a reservation in advance on top of their ticket.

News 6 gathered information based on the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ 2018 annual attendance estimates, which are the industry standard, and applied the rules set in place by other Disney parks.

The graph below illustrates the number of guests allowed on a normal day compared to the number of people allowed in the park if capacity were set at 30%.

ParkCapacityCapacity at 30%
Magic Kingdom57,00017,100
Hollywood Studios30,8439,252
Animal Kingdom37,67111,301

Crowds continued beyond the theme parks.

Attraction managers along I-Drive told News 6 they’ve already noticed a steady stream of crowds this Labor Day weekend, and hope this weekend brings their biggest boost since the pandemic began.

Disney passholder Patrick Amato preferred to soak in the sights along International Drive this Labor Day weekend, as best he can.

“I wouldn’t say it’s as festive as it’s been in the past,” he said. “We can’t go out to the bar, can’t go anywhere tonight for the most part. Kind of restricted, but still coming out and having a good time during the day.”

The crowds come as SeaWorld is planning to permanently terminate some of the employees the company previously furloughed to cut costs, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The Sept. 4 filing shows SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. has “committed to a plan of termination, primarily impacting some of the company’s currently furloughed employees.”

Earlier this year, the coronavirus pandemic closed theme parks, including SeaWorld’s, which caused the company to furlough 90% of its employees, in a move the new filing suggests the company believed would be temporary.

Dr. Duncan Dickson is a retired UCF professor who specializes in theme park management.

“When there’s no attendance, there’s no need for workers,” he said. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”

About the Author:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.