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Disney Halts Construction in Central Florida Due to Coronavirus

The Walt Disney Company has temporarily halted construction operations at Walt Disney World as the coronavirus continues to impact Central Florida’s once booming building industry, according to the head of the region’s top construction trade organization.

“It wasn’t immediately known if construction workers will be paid or when construction operations will resume,” said Mark Wylie, president and CEO of the Central Florida chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors Inc.

Wylie expects other Central Florida construction sites to shut down, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended March 16 that events of 10 or more people be canceled or postponed.

“They’re going to be closing a lot of construction sites,” Wylie said of the Central Florida region. “It’s already having a terrific impact on the economy.”

Disney wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland Florida, and Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex all announced closures of attractions starting March 16, with many staying closed through the end of the month and others not providing a date to reopen. Disney also halted its cruise line operations and annouced that it will close its hotels and shops as well.

That timeline would put the theme parks reopening sometime by mid-May. Executives with the theme parks were not available for comment.

“Unfortunately, the CDC’s recommendation will most likely impact the theme parks’ plans,” said Dennis Speigel, founder and CEO with International Theme Park Services, a Cincinnati-based theme park consulting firm. “The timeframe has risen exponentially, and we are still in uncharted water. Operators like Disney, Universal and Six Flags have no idea now. The short term was closing two to three weeks, but now it will be extended indefinitely,” he told Orlando Business Journal.

This puts at risk a multitude of Disney projects ongoing right now, such as the transformation of Epcot that includes the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster and the new Remy’s ratatouille Adventure ride.
This will also impact the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel that is scheduled to open in 2021.

“Everything from feasibility to pricing, discounting and construction. This will halt the construction on these projects and delay everybody. What will the delays be — is it one to three months? We don’t know,” said Dennis Speigel, founder and CEO with International Theme Parks Service Inc., a Cincinnati-based theme park consulting firm.

The overall virus’ impact, however, will have lingering effects on all aspects of theme park industry and will mean uncharted territory for many, he added.

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