ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Tourism leaders across Central Florida are hopeful for a better return to a normal summer after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to cancel their vacations and businesses to close last year.
On Monday, Orange County tourism leaders approved funding to market three major sporting events that could come to Central Florida. The Board of County Commissioners will vote soon for final approval.
The vote included funding for the Disney’s Wide World of Sports Youth Soccer games in December, Monster Jam scheduled for May 2022 and the annual USA volleyball Junior National Qualifier scheduled for the spring season over the next four years.
The projected total economic impact for those sporting events is $148 million.
At Icon Park on International Drive in Orlando, workers are getting ready for a busy summer and larger crowds compared to last summer when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shut down for weeks.
“We’re expecting even greater numbers, a really strong June, July, or August,” said John Goodman, VP of Marketing and Sales at Icon Park.
He said Icon Park spent the past year building and adding new projects, including a new sky bar that opened two weeks ago to assist in welcoming more people this summer.
“We built this bar out here specifically for the return of tourism in the summer,” Goodman said. “We are really looking forward to seeing the tourism come back.”
Leaders at Icon Park also told News 6 that the Wheel at Icon Park is performing slightly better than 2020 numbers.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away at Top Golf Orlando near International Drive, managers said they’re prepping for larger crowds this summer, too.
“It’s really good to see guests coming back,” said operations manager Eric Coleman. “We’re just prepared to have them come in and to have a really good time at Top Golf in Orlando.”
Officials at Icon Park and Top Golf Orlando said they’re also hiring right now with the anticipation of the larger crowds this summer.
Walt Disney World Resort is hosting several special events through the spring and summer months which were impacted last year by the pandemic, including Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the debut of Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park welcomed guests again in March for the first time since last spring.
Disney continues to use its Disney Park Pass reservation system to manage limited attendance. Guests can plan ahead and check availability online prior to buying tickets.