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Tourists and Locals Respond to Disney World Closing Through March

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Photo: Patrícia Ferreira @ferreirip

The closure of Orlando area theme parks over the coronavirus epidemic is expected to have a big impact on the Central Florida economy.   

Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld are closing their parks through the end of the month. 

The parks have closed after hurricanes and September 11th, but this will be the longest closure. Oriana Melo Guerrero was headed back to Colombia after a visit to Disney World.

She’s worried about the economic impact of the theme park closures. 

UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Associate Dean Robertico Croes says the closures will have a ripple effect. 

“Tourism consists of many small businesses and of course we will see a lot of layoffs happening in the course of the coming few days and especially those hourly workers will be affected.”

Croes says although the closures will hurt the local economy, it will help preserve the trust in the brand. 

“The speediness, the efforts, and the information that is provided to consumers and tourists that is important and that is how we will be judged in the future.”

Wallanda Whittacker was at Disney World with her high school band for a competition. She says she doesn’t mind going home early. 

“Safety first always. So, as soon as we get back home it’s great. That whole social distancing definitely applies to keep them healthy.”

Disney says it will extend the valid use period of tickets for visitors affected by the closures. Annual pass holders will be credited for the time the parks remain closed. 

Disney Cruise Lines will stop voyages out of Port Canaveral on Saturday.

If you’d like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »