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A look inside Orlando’s empty theme parks, shutdown for coronavirus

by Tharin White

The coronavirus (COVID-19) virus is truly something we haven’t seen before. The mass spread of the virus has caused many nations to shut their borders. And, this past Sunday, it led to the closing of all of Orlando’s massive theme parks. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, joined every major theme park nation-wide in shutting the gates to their beloved theme parks.

The empty entrance to Universal Studios Florida on a Monday around noon.

At minimum these parks expect to stay closed until April 1. But, that re-opening date is not guaranteed. We have seen the parks close in the past due to the attack of 9/11, numerous hurricanes and park power outages. The coronavirus though, will be closing the parks for longer than they have ever closed before.

Thanks to Air Force Fun, we took a helicopter flight over Orlando, Fla. around noon on Monday to give you a glimpse into the ghost town-esque look of your favorite parks and attractions.
Photos by Quinn Roseboom. Video by Tharin White.

Take a look at this video, flying over every theme park in Orlando:

Just a week ago these parks were filled with guests going to Universal’s Mardi Gras, SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Now, the parks are stripped back to the bare minimum employees to help stop this contagious disease from spreading.

This is a view we saw a few times during our construction updates but we never thought we would see again. The entrance to the extremely popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, completely abandoned.


Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened less than two weeks ago. In fact, we tweeted this past Saturday of the heavy crowds waiting outside the attraction. Also pictured here is the walkway to Toy Story Land in the top right and part of the Incredible’s area, Municiberg, in the top center.


The main portion of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the town center of The Black Spire Outpost, is currently at rest.


Pictured here is Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, Muppet•Vision 3D and Grand Avenue to name just a few.


Empty Toy Story Land: Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the gang have headed back to the toy box for the time being.


Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom awaits everyone to come back to Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.


Disney’s Animal Kingdom has lush vegetation, which makes it a bit harder to see, but pictured is Pandora – The World of Avatar. Above that, near the brighter green building, is the park entrance.


Normally packed with guests, the entrance to World Showcase at Epcot seems surreal when empty like this mid-day.


At the back of World Showcase, the walkways are clear around each and every one of the 11 countries represented.


Over at SeaWorld Orlando, the eery empty views are the same. Pictured here is the newest big addition to the park, Sesame Street Land.


While most of the humans are away, the dolphins still get to play at SeaWorld. Numerous animal care experts will stay with the sea creatures around to clock to maintain their care.


The entrance to SeaWorld appears like a ghost town.


That feeling is the same for the nearby Aquatica Orlando water park.


At the Universal Studios Florida park, we can see the empty entrance to Diagon Alley, the major Harry Potter themed area of the park.


The Transformer Autobots have rolled out until it is safe for everyone to return.


Universal’s Islands of Adventure also has an eery empty area in the Hogsmeade and Jurassic Park section. Major construction has been going on in the Jurassic Park area of the park. We aren’t sure if construction will continue while the parks are closed.


A view usually only seen by early morning Universal Team Members: the entrance and surrounding lands of Islands of Adventure totally clear.


While Universal CityWalk was technically still open for guests, very few people were seen walking around the park entrances.

Orlando is in a state of tense waiting as we watch the numbers of contagious people rise. The parks chose to shut down to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now we sit and self-quarantine until we can once again enjoy the incredible experiences Orlando has to offer.

Bookmark and check our Coronavirus Theme Park and Attraction Closings and Updates page. We will update it when the parks start to reopen and list any estimated opening dates or changes.

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6 comments

Scott Stinard March 17, 2020 - 4:20 pm

So so sad – all those folks out of work!

Reply
SW Employee March 18, 2020 - 2:20 pm

Please let the word be spread that SW is not paying their part time employees for these 2 weeks of forced absence. The situation is hard we understand but leaving us without the means is NOT OK! The other parks ARE PAYING is the right thing to do!!!

Reply
QSO March 18, 2020 - 3:09 pm

SW’s financials have been bad for years; the fact that they’re even paying the FT employees is actually surprising.

Reply
J March 19, 2020 - 11:00 am

Disney isn’t paying their part time employees either

Reply
Pam March 18, 2020 - 6:56 pm

I’m so glad (although I feel very bad for the employees) that WDW, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld are being responsible in the response to the coronavirus situation.

Reply
Sherri March 18, 2020 - 8:02 pm

SeaWorld never leaves the Animals alone ever.

Reply

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