Vice President Mike Pence visited Orlando today to discuss tourism and the city’s reopening.
He spoke with representatives from the major theme parks Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando and “offered encouragement” to leaders in tourism.
Pence opened by stating how he is anxious to reopen the economy and said his primary missions are to guide healthcare workers and open up America again.
Representatives of the three major theme parks shared an update with Pence in a roundtable discussion — starting with a spokesperson from Universal Orlando, John Sprouls. He stated that following the reopening of CityWalk, they received “almost no negative pushback from guests” and that they seem to be welcoming the opportunity to be out again.
Pence asked Sprouls which measures are particularly effective and Sprouls shared that rather than a single process, it is all of the individual protocols coming together that are making the difference — including masks, distance markers, and more. He shared Universal brought on additional management staff as ambassadors throughout CityWalk to help guests however they needed.
Spouse stated that Universal is planning to apply what they have learned from CityWalk’s reopening when it comes time for the parks and rides to open (specifically: sanitizer and managing pedestrian flow). He closed by reminding everyone that CityWalk is open to everyone — not just Floridians.
A representative from Disney, George Kalogridis, spoke next. Kalogridis stated the great response Disney received when Shanghai Disneyland tickets went on sale — they sold out in minutes. During the first week, Shanghai Disneyland operated at 20% capacity, but will not exceed 30% for now.
Kalogridis stated Disney is thankful for the support of government programs and that the unemployment stimulus funds has been especially helpful to support their large workforce.
Today’s discussion coincided with the official reopening day of Disney Springs and Pence commended Disney for choosing to close back in March, referring to it as a ” tremendously admirable decision.”
SeaWorld spoke third with representative Marc Swanson. He stated “what I like about the [theme park] industry is that there’s not a monopoly on safety.” He noted their desire to reopen, but “by the time we get approval, we’ll need a few more weeks to ramp up staff.” He continued stating they “would like to see that sometime in June,” and “if we can get approval and data keeps going in that direction, we’ll be ready.”
Pence commended SeaWorld and the tourism and hospitality leaders for their “inspiring choices” by saying “everybody put safety first.”
Governor DeSantis is hopeful that Florida can return to the 2.8% unemployment rate it held prior to the closures and is asking for feedback from people in their respective industries. He plans to consider major theme parks’ reopening plans and this process will begin tomorrow with Universal Orlando.
Have you visited the recently reopened CityWalk or Disney Springs? Let us know in the comments.