In Orlando, Florida, the center of theme park and resort entertainment for half the country, there has been observed activity in the construction of Universal Orlando Resort, but Disneyworld and its adjoining parks, hotels and resorts remained shuttered.
A local news station in Orlando, WESH, watched from their helicopter as Universal was continuing construction on the new Velociraptor roller coaster in their Jurassic Park-themed land of Islands of Adventure, right next to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This news backs up the promise made by the Universal Parks and Resorts Chairman and CEO, Tom Williams, who promised that all construction projects “remain active and on track under protocols established by government officials and with their support.”
In another part of Orlando, however, things are shut down tight. Disneyworld has come to a full standstill. Not long after the parks closed, it was also announced that construction would cease as well. Walt Disney World Resort was not required to shut down—as Universal has shown—because while Orange County instituted shelter-in-place and lockdown restrictions, construction was deemed and “essential business” and was still able to work.
It seems that the decision was Disney’s not a government mandate, which follows in the pattern of the park’s closing to visitors, something that was also done before it was mandated by the state. This postpones construction of the new Star Wars hotel, Cinderella’s Castle’s makeover, and major changes at EPCOT that includes a Ratatouille ride, a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, and an overall revamp of Future World.
To date, Disney has furloughed more than 43,000 employees.