Several Florida attractions extend closures amid coronavirus outbreak



TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Several local attractions, like theme parks and aquariums, are extending closures due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Walt Disney World announced on March 27 it will be extending its closure until further.

“As a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed until further notice,” a spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company said.

The Walt Disney Company said it has been paying its cast members since the closure of the parks and have decided to also extend paying hourly parks and resorts cast members through April 18.

Walt Disney World was initially planning on reopening on April 1.

Legoland Florida announced on March 27 its theme park and water park will now be closed through April 14.

As a result of this update, its new Pirate Island Hotel will open on May 15 and new opening dates for the new water sports stunt show and PirateFest Weekends will be announced soon.

For the latest updates, click here.

Guests can also email for more information.

ZooTampa also made an announcement on March 27. While the company made no mention of extending its closure, it did announce it would be making several adjustments as the closure is causing a significant impact on the zoo’s operating budget.

The zoo said it will be eliminating all hours for seasonal staff, furlough part-time and full-time staff who are not part of its limited operations and implementing a temporary salary reduction across top-level leaders.

Furloughed employees will retain medical, dental, life, supplemental and critical illness insurance benefits, and will have their premiums fully paid for by ZooTampa. They will also qualify to receive financial assistance and enhanced unemployment benefits from the current government stimulus package.

“We are doing everything possible to safely reopen at the earliest opportunity and are hopeful that our limited operations will take place for a short period. We recognize the importance of every single member of our team and it’s the reason we opted for a furlough which pauses employment instead of the elimination of positions. We plan on welcoming all furloughed employees back into their regular roles as soon as it’s reasonably possible to start welcoming visitors again,” President and CEO Joe Couceiro said.

Similarly to ZooTampa, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens announced in a press release March 27 with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is indefinitely furloughing 90 percent of its workforce as it struggles to deal with fall out from the coronavirus.

The furloughed employees will not be paid after March 31, according to the filing.

“On March 27, 2020, the company announced that, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting temporary park closures, it will or has temporarily furloughed over 90 percent of its current employees as of April 1, 2020. The furloughed employees will not receive compensation from the company during the furlough period after March 31, 2020; however, subject to local regulations, these employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits. The furlough period is uncertain at this time due to the temporary park closures and will be reassessed as business conditions dictate. The company looks forward to welcoming back its ambassadors and guests when it is safe to open again,” the SEC filing said.

Both parks will remain closed until further notice.

Universal Orlando announced on March 24 it was extending its closure through April 19 from the end of March shortly after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced a stay-at-home mandate through April 9.

The closure at Universal Orlando includes theme parks and CityWalk, as well as hotels.

On March 26, the Florida Aquarium also announced it will be extending its closure from March 29 to May 10. However, the aquarium remains ready to open earlier if it is determined safe to do so.

“We look forward to reopening our doors again soon and sharing a journey of discovery with our guests to explore animals and ecosystems from Florida and around the world,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO of the Florida Aquarium.

In the meantime, the Florida Aquarium is offering a daily educational series for children called SEA-SPAN on its Facebook page.

Please check back for the latest updates on theme park and attraction closures.


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