ORLANDO, Fla. - Officials with Universal Orlando Resort will be the first of Central Florida's three major theme parks to present their reopening plans before the Orange County reopening task force.
This is the first step in reopening attractions after they were shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Universal Orlando will lay out their plans to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on Thursday. Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando could present their plans in the upcoming days.
Universal executives say when they reopen the parks, there will be reduced capacity and some attractions may change.
"We have interactive play areas where children can play. We probably won’t open those up initially because we’re not able to control it," said Universal Chief Administrative Officer John Sprouls.
Sprouls noted they're using the same protocols for its partial reopening of Universal CityWalk. He says they've also brought in additional management staff to serve as ambassadors.
"So they’re helping people understand please put your mask on. Here's what we’re trying to do. Here’s where you can go wash your hands."
Disney World and SeaWorld will also need to submit their reopening plans to the task force. A projected opening date is expected to be included in the presentations.
SeaWorld Orlando hopes to open as soon as next month. SeaWorld CEO Mark Swanson said once they receive approval, they'll need two to four weeks to reopen.
He's hopeful for sometime in June.
"If we can get the approval and the data keeps moving in the right direction, we’ll be ready," said Swanson.
SeaWorld Orlando has already begun testing its rollercoasters, as people wearing masks rode the rides on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says he will be looking at the safety measures the parks will take to protect their employees and guests.
"I think that we can anticipate our theme parks, especially the larger ones, will have a phased reopening with a focus on sanitary measures as well as getting it right the first time."
Disney executive George Kalogridis called the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland a success after it sold out tickets on its first day with limited capacity.
"Our business won’t all come back at once. This is going to take time," said Kalogridis. "Twenty percent on the first week and the maximum will be 30%. So those are the learnings for us that we’ll certainly consider when we think about opening here," said Kalogridis.
At Shanghai Disneyland and Disney Springs, face masks, temperature checks, and social distancing are all mandatory.
It could take up to 24 hours for Mayor Demings to review the proposals once they are submitted. He will then forward the plans onto Governor Ron DeSantis for final approval.