Orange County Mayor: Theme parks could open in June or later

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Orlando theme parks could open sometime in June, or later.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday said theme parks will have to submit reopening plans to the state.

"They have to provide how they're going to do it, how they'll accommodate guests and protect the staff, and they need to have an endorsement from the relevant official in their locality -- the Orange County Mayor, wherever you're talking about," he said.

Mayor Demings said he has not received any plans but has been in talks with theme park officials. The topic will be reviewed and discussed in Orange County's economic recovery task force meetings.

"I believe what we can expect in our community is a measured reopening. They will likely start with smaller business units, and maybe hotels and resort areas before major theme parks themselves will open," he said. "But clearly, I think that'll be some time in June or thereafter." 

Some elements of the theme parks have started to open. Thursday, Univeral City Walk opened at limited capacity. Walt Disney World Resort announced Disney Springs will have a limited opening next week. This is allowing some workers to go back to their jobs.

"They called me and I'm very happy to go back," said Disney custodial coordinator Irma Caravallo.

The union representing many theme park employees has negotiated safeguards with the parks for when employees are welcomed back. Some of those include requiring guests and workers to wear face masks, installing plastic barriers between guests and employees at cash registers, no-contact transactions and offering paid time off for employees to quarantine if they become infected with COVID-19.

Caravallo is pleased with the agreements but said it will be an adjustment.

"They're training us in new procedures, how we're going to do everything. It's going to be a challenge for us. We just need to learn and prepare for the new changes. This is a new life we have to live now," she said. "I'm going to be making sure everything is safe for my cast members and guests as well."