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DeSantis Order Would Allow Florida Theme Parks to Operate at Normal Capacity

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Theme parks are one of the many industries impacted by the governor’s Phase 3 announcement.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida was starting Phase 3 reopenings
  • This would allow theme parks to operate at normal capacity
  • Officials with Universal, SeaWorld and Disney have not said when normal operations would return

On Friday Gov. Ron DeSantis said as part of Phase 3, theme parks have the ability to increase capacity and return to normal operations with social distancing protocols.

Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and Walt Disney World have been open for months, but are currently limiting the number of guests that come through their gates.

Kevin Murphy, a professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management,  said the Friday announcement is big news for the economy.

“Not only does it generate for revenues to the parks and staying at hotels using the airports, taxi, rental cars, but then also (they) have more employees coming back, more employees coming back off unemployment,” he said. “But they are getting back to spending money.”

Murphy said Phase 3 could really help, especially around the upcoming holidays when Orlando generally sees more traffic.

“This whole thing has been devastating ​for all aspects of the industry, except for pizza and drive-thru,” he said.

While Murphy said more people going parks can help the economy, Disney passholders like Caitlin Casavecchia had some concerns about the potential for bigger crowds.

She has gone several times since the Disney parks first reopened and said it was great with not too many people, but that could change with bigger crowds.

“I wouldn’t feel as safe going to parks,” Casavecchia said. “I think there are too many people and not enough cast members to make sure everyone is following the rules. And even with limited capacity, I have seen people choosing not be compliant.”

Disney sent a statement saying the company is not planning any immediate changes — but they are evaluating the governor’s executive order.

SeaWorld officials said they will “continue to evolve our procedures and manage capacity to maintain compliance with state and local government recommendation.”

Murphy said it will interesting to see what the future holds, but it will take time for businesses to get back to normal.

“Its going to be a slow ramp up,” he said.

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