SeaWorld Orlando will temporarily shutter operations starting on Monday, March 16, amid the global outbreak of coronavirus, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced Friday. The announcement comes after SeaWorld on Thursday announced its Florida Resident Staycation Promotional Offer, a one-day ticket deal exclusively for Florida residents. Included in the sale are one-day theme park tickets priced at $49.99, down from the standard $107.99 ticket price, as well as a combo ticket enabling entry to both SeaWorld and the Aquatica water park. That ticket now sells for $59.99, down from $150.99. The limited time deal was scheduled to expire Monday, March 16, with tickets good through May 20.
"As part of our continued commitment to the safety of our guests and Ambassadors, and out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily closing all of our theme parks, effective March 16, through the end of the month," SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment said in a statement. "During this time essential personnel, including animal care experts, will continue to look after the health, safety, and nutritional needs of the animals in our care."
"Our animal rescue and rehabilitation operations will also continue to operate," SeaWorld officials wrote. "SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will continue to pay our full-time Ambassadors during this period."
The parks closing are SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, SeaWorld San Diego and San Antonio, Busch Gardens in Virginia and Florida, Adventure Island, and Water Country U.S.A.
"With people using the restrooms there, I don't think you've ever seen so many cleaning agents being applied," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said of Florida theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando (via Click Orlando). "I mean, they are really working hard to keep those theme parks in good, working order."
Vice President Mike Pence over the weekend told cruise industry officials in Fort Lauderdale it remains safe for healthy Americans to travel.
"Whether it be Disney World, whether it be other destination, whether it be cruise ships … those most at risk are seniors with serious or chronic underlying health conditions," Pence said. "Otherwise Americans can confidently travel in this country."
But Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., an independent industry consultant, said there is "definitely concern" in the theme park space.
"Particularly how and when it could manifest itself in the U.S.," Speigel said (via The Associated Press), adding parks and attractions are likely to undergo "a lot of fumigation, disinfection, right now, not only in the front of the house, but the back of the house."