If you thought the closure of Walt Disney World over the coronavirus outbreak may present an opportunity to speed up construction projects, think again.
Richard Bilbao of the Orlando Business Journal is reporting that construction operations at Disney World have been halted, based on comments from Mark Wylie, president and CEO of the Central Florida chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors Inc.
The stated reason is a new recommendation from the White House that events of 10 or more people be canceled or postponed. For Disney World, it could shift the timetable for opening new rides and hotels being built around the resort.
“Everything from feasibility to pricing, discounting and construction. This will halt the construction on these projects and delay everybody. What will the delays be — is it one to three months? We don’t know,” Dennis Speigel, theme park consultant and CEO with International Theme Parks Services, told OBJ.
Disney World is currently scheduled to be closed only through the end of March, but federal guidelines recommend events with 50 or more people to be postponed or cancelled for the next eight weeks — which would keep the parks closed until mid-May.
Report: Some SeaWorld part-timers won’t get paid during coronavirus shutdown
While Universal Orlando and Disney World have committed to paying their theme park employees through the end of March, SeaWorld Orlando isn’t doing the same for at least some of its part-time staff, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
The Sentinel obtained company messages from its online employee portal, stating: “Part-time ambassadors will not be scheduled or paid during this time unless communicated otherwise by your leadership.”
One unnamed worker summed up the explanation from his manager as, “In layman’s terms, the company can’t afford it.”
SeaWorld is a much smaller company than either Universal or Disney, whose theme parks are just one division in massive corporations. The company did report record earnings in February — at which time CEO Serge Rivera expressed confidence in how the company would deal with the COVID-19 virus that hadn’t yet become a pandemic.
“We’ve seen SARS, we see the flu. We have – we see a lot of exogenous events impact us earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, things of that nature,” Rivera said on Feb. 26. “What we can say to your question is in the past, we have seen nothing that has truly impacted the business in a significantly negative way. But, again, I don’t think we should draw parallels between things in the past and what coronavirus presents today.”
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