The COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on Central Florida, to say the least. Right now, unemployment rates in Orange and Osceola County are the highest in the state of Florida. A lot of that has to do, of course, with the long-term closure of our theme parks, which a significant part of the local economy revolves around.
Even as the parks begin to open up, there have already been sacrifices that had to be made. On top of the social distancing guidelines that have the open parks operating at a much lower capacity than normal, Walt Disney World has canceled Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for the year and the construction of the new Epic Universe park at Universal has been put on-hold indefinitely.
With a reduction in park attendance and a reduction in events, it was only a matter of time before there would be a reduction of employees. Walt Disney World has just begin inviting thousands of castmembers back to work ahead of the planned July 11th reopening, though many of them here and at the California parks are petitioning the park to delay that date.
Universal Orlando parks have been open for about two weeks, and that reduction has become a reality. On Tuesday night, it was reported that Universal Orlando made the decision to lay off an undisclosed amount of employees across multiple departments. Those employees will be supported with severance pay, subsidized health benefits and job placement assistance.
In the meantime, construction continues on the new Jurassic Park themed coaster and a new stunt show based off of the Jason Bourne franchise are still in progress. The park will be also holding a 'merchandise garage sale' for Annual Pass Holders on July 1-2, 2020.