TAMPA, Fla. — Florida's theme parks have been closed for more than a month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For all of them, there's still no set date in sight for when they can safely reopen.
Both Disney World and Universal Orlando have been closed since mid-March. The same goes for Busch Gardens in Tampa, sister park SeaWorld in Orlando and Legoland Florida in Winter Haven.
While all of them have announced adjustments for annual passes and tickets and have been engaging with fans on social media, none have given details on when or how their respective parks could reopen.
Here's what we know so far:
Update, May 8: Shanghai Disneyland will reopen May 11 -- with restrictions, including both cast members and guests wearing face masks, temperature screenings and a reduced park capacity to less than 24,000.
Disney also announced shopping complex Disney Springs would begin a phase reopening on May 20. Only certain shops not owned by Disney would reopen, and cast members and guests will be required to wear face masks.
RELATED: Disney Springs to reopen May 20
In mid-April, Disney fans expressed panic when an analyst predicted the theme parks might not open until 2021. Disney did not comment on that analyst's prediction, which was reported by USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, among many other outlets.
Disney World has been closed since March 16. Almost two weeks later, the company said its parks and hotels would remain closed "until further notice."
Because of the closures, Disney has had to furlough thousands of workers.
Disney said previously-purchased theme park tickets beginning March 12, 2020, through the closure would be extended to use any day through Dec. 15, 2020, once the parks reopen. Annual passholders have also seen their monthly payments halted during the closure.
When Universal Orlando shut down its parks on March 15, the original plan was to keep them closed through the end of the month. Now, the theme parks and City Walk are closed through at least May 31.
"At this point, all of our theme parks are closed, and we do not know when they will reopen," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in an April 30 earnings call.
Universal also announced extensions for previously-purchased tickets and annual passes.
As of April 20, all Universal employees will be at 80 percent of their pay. And, the park said it would begin furloughing part-time hourly workers on May 3.
Busch Gardens & SeaWorld
Update, May 8: While there is still no reopening date for Busch Gardens or SeaWorld, interim CEO Marc Swanson said parks in Texas could be the first ones to open back up. Then, Florida parks could follow.
SeaWorld Entertainment has not given any hint as to when and how its theme parks would reopen.
While guests aren't allowed in, the parks said animal care staff is still on hand to look after the park's many animals.
The parks said expiration dates for tickets that may have expired already will be automatically extended through the end of 2021. And, guests with special in-park experiences will be able to reschedule them through Dec. 31, 2021.
Annual passes are also being extended by a period at least as long as the closure period.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have been among the hardest-hit theme parks. As of April 4, SeaWorld's fourth CEO resigned, and 90 percent of the company's employees aren't getting paid.
Legoland Florida is also closed "until further notice."
However, the park says its new Pirate Island Hotel is still expected to open June 1. And, the Legoland Hotel "will continue to operate within government guidelines for guests with existing reservations."
New reservations for June 1 and later are also available for both hotels.
Legoland is also offering its Peace of Mind Policy for tickets and annual passes, which offers free date changes and extensions amid the pandemic.
How could parks reopen?
On April 28, the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force met and presented suggestions for reopening businesses in Central Florida, including the area's theme parks.
Some of its suggestions:
- Tape marking 6 feet apart in ride and attraction lines
- Staff regularly wiping down frequently-touched surfaces
- Phase 1 and 2: Staff 65 and older encouraged to stay home
The group also presented these mandates for reopening:
- All employees must wear face masks
- There must be touchless hand sanitizer at each ticketing and ride entry and exit
- Staff must do temperature checks before shifts. If someone has a temperature of 100.4, they will not be allowed into the park.
- All railings and surfaces must be wiped down after every use
These suggestions are just that and have not yet been adopted as policy for any of Florida's theme parks. The group also heard a proposal to let the theme parks determine their own reopening plans.
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