Orlando, FL(FOX 35 Orlando) - Leaders from the theme parks in Central Florida gathered for a roundtable with Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, telling those watching that they hope guests will return soon so that they can start hiring more workers back.
"I think people crave that entertainment. They want to get out and do things, " said Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
Representatives from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando encouraged guests to return.
John Sprouls, the VP CEO Universal Parks and Resorts, added, "I think we’ve been able to prove that all of us can operate safely and create not only a great environment for guests but a safe environment for the guests. How we get that message out so more people feel comfortable coming here is what’s going to help all of us."
According to Gov. DeSantis, there has been a 67% decrease in visitors to Central Florida, making it difficult for furloughed employees like Charissa Ward. She told FOX News that she is hoping to get called back to work at Disney.
"It’s been a struggle. I’m used to working lots of hours. I’m not making the income I was, even with the money from the federal government. So, it’s been a struggle to really pay bills and survive," she explained.
All three major theme parks have had to cut thousands of employees as they deal with large revenue losses. They hope visitors will return so the workers can too.
"We're hoping if we can increase visitation, we can get them back," Sprouls explained.
James MacPhee, the Senior VP of Operations at Walt Disney World added, "We’ve bought tens of thousands of cast members back and hope to continue to do that as demand moves forward."
Swanson agreed, saying,"We’ve brought back thousands of employees, but we’ve got a lot more that we’d like to bring back as capacity, as we have more people into our parks".
Visitors like Kristi DeRubertis said that she has been back to Disney twice with her family since reopening and feels safe.
Workers like Ward hope more people do the same, so she can earn a living again. She said that "it’s stressful. Anxiety levels are really high and it affects everyday life. One day you have a good day, one day you just want to cry."
Gov. DeSantis said that getting more visitors back to Central Florida will have a positive ripple effect on small businesses. He said that he is also looking to work with airlines to convince people to come back to Florida.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest theme park news.