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Podcast: Can Florida’s theme parks survive a pandemic?

Coronavirus in Florida heads inside the most magical place on earth
The crowds were light on opening day Wednesday at Disney's Hollywood Studios where all visitors were required to wear masks and get a reservation in advance to visit the park. Photo courtesy Walt Disney World
The crowds were light on opening day Wednesday at Disney's Hollywood Studios where all visitors were required to wear masks and get a reservation in advance to visit the park. Photo courtesy Walt Disney World [ Walt Disney World ]
Published Aug. 6, 2020

Die-hard fans have returned to Florida’s theme parks, but coronavirus has dealt a crushing blow to this pillar of our state’s economy.

Just this week, Disney announced revenues from parks, resorts and cruise lines plunged 85 percent for April through June, compared to the same period last year. And Disney’s not alone. Both NBC Universal and SeaWorld Entertainment have taken massive hits to attendance and revenue.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. SeaWorld says bookings are way up for next year compared to 2020. And the Disney Plus streaming service hit 60 million subscribers, which it hadn’t expected to do until 2024.

In this episode, a Disney season passholder and the Times theme park reporter take us inside Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens’ plans to survive the pandemic. Listen in the player below.

If your browser isn’t displaying the episode player above, you can listen here. Guests appearing in this episode include Disney World season passholder Jennifer Neldner and Times reporter Sharon Kennedy Wynne and enterprise editor Maria Carrillo.

We don’t have a set schedule for our Coronavirus in Florida podcast, but we will continue to publish more episodes. You can listen to the latest episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it on your favorite podcast platform.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

LATEST ON CORONAVIRUS: Six things we’ve learned about the coronavirus since March.

MASK UPDATE: Find out where you have to wear a mask in Tampa Bay

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THE CORONAVIRUS SCRAPBOOK: We collected your stories, pictures, songs, recipes, journals and more to show what life has been like during the pandemic.

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