When the local news station WESH sent their helicopter to fly over the empty theme parks and resorts, they caught video of a flurry of activity underway a Universal Orlando Resort. Construction was still in progress on what appeared to be the new Velocicoaster roller coaster in the Jurrasic Park themed-land of Islands of Adventure, right next to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
This news backs the promise made by Universal Parks and Resorts Chairman and CEO Tom Williams, who said: that all construction projects “remain active and on track under protocols established by government officials and with their support.”
Meanwhile, construction at Disney World has pretty much come to a full standstill. It was not long after Disney closed the parks to guests that they announced that all construction would cease. But why?
Walt Disney World Resort never had to stop construction in Central Florida, and Universal’s uninterrupted progress is proof of that. Orange County instituted curfews and shelter-in-place ordinances, but essential businesses–like construction–were still able to work within those parameters.
It seems that the only explanation is that it was Disney’s own choice to cease construction. Instead of moving forward at a slower pace, the company decided to lock down and wait.
When construction operations were shuttered on March 17, it was due to the latest CDC-issued guidelines which included a recommendation that all gatherings greater than ten people would be canceled or postponed. That has resulted in the postponement of construction of the new Star Wars hotel, Cinderella Castle’s royal makeover at the Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT‘s major revamp that includes a new attraction based on Ratatouille in the France Pavilion, a Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, and an overall refurbishment of Future World.
But Disney has been very proactive in its initiatives to stop the spread of the current pandemic. They closed the Disneyland Resort despite California Governor Newsom’s exemption, and they closed Walt Disney World before requests were made from local authorities in Florida.
Now construction at Disney World is once again beginning to show some signs of life as the state of Florida works to reopen its economy. Permits have already been filed to continue construction on other Disney projects. Most notably, these permits include plans for Disney’s newest hotel: Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge.
But there is no doubt that the shutdowns will have a long-term effect on all theme park construction projects. And time will tell soon enough if Universal’s tiny steps forward will prove to be a giant leap ahead of the progress being reignited at Disney World. This is especially regarding the construction of Universal’s fourth theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe, which fans are undoubtedly excited for.