ORLANDO, Fla. (WKMG) - Despite continued warnings about COVID-19, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando both reached capacity over Labor Day weekend, nearly two months after all the parks officially reopened.
Disney’s online Park Pass reservation system, as well as Universal Orlando’s online ticket system, revealed that all parks at both properties hit limited capacity Saturday. The parks then closed their ticket availabilities for the day.
It appears to be the first time both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World hit limited capacity at all their parks in the same day since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The crowds come with some concern. One visitor, a travel agent, left Universal Orlando after only a couple hours because she felt unsafe as far as social distancing.
It is not clear how many people each park currently allows. During a roundtable discussion in May, Disney executive George Kalogridis said the company was considering reopening its U.S. parks with 20% to 30% capacity.
The crowds continued beyond the theme parks.
Attraction managers along International Drive say they’ve already noticed a steady stream of crowds this Labor Day weekend and hope to see their biggest boost since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Disney passholder Patrick Amato preferred to soak in the sights along I-Drive this Labor Day weekend, as best he can.
“I wouldn’t say it’s as festive as it’s been in the past,” he said. “We can’t go out to the bar, can’t go anywhere at night for the most part. Kind of restricted, but still coming out and having a good time during the day.”
The crowds came one day after SeaWorld announced permanent layoffs for some of its furloughed employees. An exact number was not announced.
Dr. Duncan Dickson is a retired University of Central Florida professor who specializes in theme park management.
“When there’s no attendance, there’s no need for workers,” he said. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”
According to its second quarter earnings report, Seaworld lost $131 million compared to the same time last year, and attendance was down significantly.