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SeaWorld Orlando submits reopening plan for local approval

by Brittani Tuttle

SeaWorld Orlando has shared their plan for reopening with the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force for approval, along with a reopening date.

seaworld orlando

UPDATE – 05/27/20, 7:21 p.m.: Mayor Jerry Demings has endorsed the reopening plan for SeaWorld Orlando. It now will head to Gov. DeSantis’ desk for final approval.


The presentation was shared this morning, May 27, by Marc Swanson, the Interim CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

With this plan, SeaWorld Orlando aims to reopen on June 10 for an employee appreciation night, and then to the public on June 11.

SeaWorld’s reopening plan will see the enhancement of every aspect of their park operations, which will help ensure guest, employee and animal safety, as well as add specific enhancements to specific operational areas.

Overall Park Enhancements

Face Coverings

  • Employees will be provided and required to wear face coverings.
  • Guests ages two and up will be required to wear face coverings when visiting the parks. Guests are encouraged to bring their own face coverings, but will be provided one if they do not have one.
  • SeaWorld’s face covering requirement will be clearly and visibly shown through in-park signage and literature.

Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing will be promoted throughout the parks.
  • Ground markings will be installed at “key guest areas.”
  • Signage will be on display throughout the parks to remind guests and employees of the new safety protocols.
  • Contactless payments will be encouraged across the parks, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
  • Plexi-glass will be installed in high-traffic or close-contact areas to add extra protection.

Cleaning and Sanitation

  • SeaWorld will “significantly increase cleaning and sanitization, especially in high-contact areas.”
  • Increased signage will be on display throughout the parks to remind guests of health and sanitation recommendations.
  • Sanitation and disinfection for employee areas will be increased.
  • The number of hand sanitizer station will be significantly increased at appropriate locations throughout the parks.

Employee and Guest Temperature Screening

  • CDC guidance will be followed on temperature measurements.
  • All guests must undergo and pass temperature screenings before entering the parks.
  • Employees must undergo and pass the temperature screening before being allowed to report to work.

Work and Sick Policies

  • Employees with flu-like symptoms will notify their manager and not come to work (or depart from work if already at the park).
  • Employees will follow current CDC guidelines for self-isolation and symptom-free periods before returning to work.

COVID-19 Training

  • Employees will receive COVID-19 specific training on all-new enhanced park operating procedures.
  • Training for employees will include guidance from the CDC and other health advisors.

Specific Enhancements to Key Operational Areas

Guest Arrivals and Ticketing

  • Instructional signage and ground markings will be visible upon entrance to the park, which communicate expectations of guests and these changes in operations.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be implemented for arrival areas and high-contact surfaces.
  • Spacing will be increased for touchless turnstiles to enable appropriate physical distancing.

Restaurants

  • Seating layouts will be arranged to accommodate physical distancing.
  • Tables and chairs will be sanitized with increased frequency, condiment and topping stations will be closed, utensils will be pre-packaged, and guests with refillable products will be provided single-use alternatives.
  • Paper menus will be utilized instead of traditional menus.
  • Buffet-style service will be adjusted or closed until further notice.
  • Additional grab-and-go and pre-packaged food offerings will be added.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be implemented in all restaurants.

Retail Shops

  • Queues and shops will have markings for physical distancing.
  • Shops will have signage directing guests to defined entry and exit points.
  • Inventory replenishment will be done at night or during low-traffic times to limit interactions.
  • Bagging and wrapping material will be given to customers to minimize contact of items at checkout.

Animal Exhibits and Interactions

  • All open animal viewing spaces will have markings for distancing added to queues.
  • Certain tours and interactions will be restricted to one party at a time.
  • Only tours allowing for physical distancing will operate.
  • Certain animal interactions will be modified.
  • The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing all guest-facing habitat surfaces will be increased.

Public Spaces

  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be implemented across the parks, especially in high-contact areas.
  • The number of hand sanitizer stations will be significantly increased at appropriate locations throughout the parks.
  • Guest flow will be adjusted to single-direction in some areas.
  • Consistent signage for distancing will be placed throughout the parks.
  • Venues will be configured with modified seating to maintain physical distancing and cleaned according to enhanced protocols after each event or presentation.
  • Audio announcements and the SeaWorld mobile app will include the most recent guidance on distancing and operational changes.

Rides and Attractions

  • Queue lines for all rides will have markings for physical distancing.
  • Single rider lines will be removed.
  • Modified seating will be implemented on rides and attractions to maintain physical distancing.
  • Requests for additional space will be accommodated.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the entry and exit of all rides.
  • The frequency of cleaning and sanitization on all rides will be increased.
  • Open play areas will be temporarily closed unless they meet distancing protocols.
  • Specific protocols will be implemented for water rides, for both employees and guests.

Parades and Meet-and-Greets

  • Certain components of parades and meet-and-greets will be limited or removed, depending on the ability to ensure physical distancing for guests and employees.
  • Any parade components involving guest interaction will be updated or removed.
  • Character interactions will be modified for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Photo opportunities will be modified to ensure physical distancing.

Employee Facilities

  • Additional signage has been added regarding health and safety to team areas.
  • Reminders about face covering policies, requirements for wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), and how to wear it properly have been posted prominently.
  • Additional hand sanitizer stations have been added and the frequency of cleaning and sanitization in employee areas has been increased.
  • The enhanced food and beverage safety standards for guest-facing areas will be applied in employee dining areas.

Waterpark Attractions and Facilities

  • Cleaning and sanitation of high-contact surfaces, including ride vehicles, rafts, tubes, and life vests, will be increased.
  • Guest capacity for all pools and rivers will be limited to ensure physical distancing.
  • All rafts and ride vehicles will be limited to specific parties, and unfamiliar guests will not be grouped with others.
  • Lounge chairs will be arranged to ensure physical distancing.

This plan was approved by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. Now Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings will review the proposal, and if he endorses it, he will send it on to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for final approval.

SeaWorld Orlando originally closed on March 16, and has been in extended closure since March 27.

Stay tuned for updates as we await news on the approval of SeaWorld Orlando’s reopening plan.

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