POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Theme parks, which employ thousands of people in Polk County and contribute billions to the local economy, are one step closer to reopening.
Universal Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida have both received unanimous approval from their local officials to move forward with their reopening plans.
The final decision is up to the state.
“We would hope to open to the public on June the 5th,” said John Sprouls, Chief Administrative Officer at Universal Orlando.
Sprouls outlined the resort’s detailed plan to allow guests back into its parks in early June for the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force Thursday.
If approved by the state, the parks will reopen for employees on June 1.
“Just have some of our own team members come in and allow us to vet everything that we’re doing to make sure that it works and to get whatever learnings we can in a controlled environment. On (June) 3 and 4, we’d be doing some invited guests and some annual pass holders and others again to be able to stress the system, make sure that it works,” he said.
Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and other county officials visited the parks Thursday to review the plans, Sprouls told the task force.
Dr. Pino did the same thing before Universal Orlando’s CityWalk reopened last week.
“We’re going to do guest temperature checks at all of our main entrances and we are going to require not only all of our team members but we’re going to require guests be in masks as well,” said Sprouls.
The theme parks will open at a decreased capacity. Hand sanitizer will be available at all entrances and exits at rides and dining areas.
Social distancing will be enforced in all queues and on attractions.
Cashless transactions will be encouraged, but not required.
Walt Disney World and SeaWorld will present to the same task force at a later date, according to a task force public information official.
“I hope you can see the care that was put into the plans that have been put in place,” said Rex Jackson, general manager at LEGOLAND Florida.
Winter Haven city commissioners approved LEGOLAND Florida’s reopening plans Wednesday evening with a consensus vote.
The resort hopes to reopen on June 1.
“We will be recommending, very strongly recommending, that all guests ages 3 and up do wear a face mask when visiting the resort. We will also be providing face masks at our resort, for guests for complimentary use for those who may forget to bring theirs,” Jackson told commissioners.
Cash will not be accepted.
Visitors and employees will have their temperature checked. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 will not be allowed in, neither will the people in their party.
“We intend to operate at less than 50% capacity when we reopen the park and water park,” said Jackson.
Winter Haven Mayor Bradley T. Dantzler sent a letter to the Florida Department endorsing the plan.
“The city has full confidence in the strategies LEGOLAND will implement to safely reopen, especially given their goal to only target season pass holders and in-state residents,” the letter reads.
The tourism industry adds 21,000 jobs, $460 million in wages and $2.4 billion in total impact to the local economy, the letter reads.
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