Though Universal and Disney rarely cooperate on anything, it looks like when it comes to forming a strategy when it comes to live after the COVID-19 pandemic, these two rivals will have to work together, as executives with Disney and Universal have been appointed to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ task force to reopen Florida’s economy.
Walt Disney World president Josh D’Amaro and Universal Orlando Resort CEO John Sprouls have both joined the committee that will help lead efforts to restart Florida’s economy following impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the state-level task force, on the local level Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has formed an Economic Recovery Task Force with several top members of the theme park community, including Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president of Walt Disney World Resorts and Transportation Operations; Rich Costales, executive vice president of Universal Orlando Resort operations; and Brad Gilmour, vice president of operations at SeaWorld.
Working together to find a new normal
While it might seem strange for so many theme park executives to be working towards a singular goal, many theme parks will face similar challenges in the wake of COVID-19. Reports from Disney and Universal seem to indicate that both parks are exploring how they can reopen with reduced operations, lower capacity on attractions, and potentially required masks and temperature checks.
And of course that is assuming that theme parks can open soon at all. Though it has been reported that Disney was hoping to reopen its theme parks as of June 1st, with Bob Iger recently saying that until there is mass testing, at scale, an opening would be improbable and other analysts stating that it could be 2021 before theme parks could feasibly reopen, there are more questions than answers right now for theme park operations across the state of Florida, which is why these teams working together is so important.