Universal Orlando will be the first of Central Florida’s major theme parks to present its plans for reopening to Orange County.
The plans, which will be detailed to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on Thursday, could include a projected date for reopening the resort’s theme parks while the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings will have to sign off on the plans before they are submitted to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. By the time plans reach DeSantis, theme parks would specify a reopening date, per the terms of the governor’s latest executive order on reopening Florida businesses.
The county initially stated that Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando would also present their reopening plans, but later clarified to multiple media outlets that only Universal is scheduled to make a presentation.
In an event with Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday, Universal Orlando’s chief administrative officer, John Sprouls pointed to safeguards the resort has already implemented in reopening the CityWalk shopping and dining district, including mandatory face masks, temperature checks, limited capacity and social distancing.
“If people feel safe, if people feel we’re doing it responsibly, they’ll come,” Sprouls said. His comments echoed earlier sentiments from the task force to let theme parks be “judged by the marketplace” on reopening safely.
Universal Orlando’s theme parks have been closed since March 16 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of Icon Park now reopen
Restaurants and attractions at Icon Park along International Drive have now reopened — with one significant exception.
The Wheel, the 400-foot-tall structure formerly known as the Orlando Eye, remains closed for the time being. No reopening date has been set.
As for the rest of the 20-acre complex, the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando are now open again.
Dining options are also available — albeit at 50 percent capacity for dine-in customers — with Tapa Toro, Yard House, Tin Roof, Sugar Factory, iCafe de Paris, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Outback Steakhouse, as well as the four locations inside the Wheelhouse Market Food Hall.
What Disney World projects will be canceled by coronavirus?
Disney has said the company’s capital expenditure spending will be slashed by $900 million for this fiscal year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. What it didn’t say, however, was what plans have now fallen off the table.
Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider has those details, citing multiple unnamed sources in the Walt Disney Company.
One of the projects that will survive, according to Niles, is the high-end Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel under construction near Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
For the rest of Niles’ list, go read the full story at Theme Park Insider.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to John Sprouls as Universal Orlando’s CEO. His official title is chief administrative officer.
COVID-19 suggestions for Orlando theme parks leave gaps in guest, employee safety
LISTEN: Orlando Rising talks theme park journalism, COVID-19 on Kingdoms & Coasters podcast
SeaWorld approves $6.8 million in stock awards for execs during company-wide furloughs