Orange County

Central Florida theme parks see big holiday crowds as COVID-19 cases spike

Despite the pandemic, many people are trying to visit a theme park before the holidays are over.

The state was already experiencing record highs for new cases after Thanksgiving, but that’s being compounded by Christmas gatherings.

And now, if people ignore guidelines for New Year’s, there will be even more cases out there than before the Thanksgiving spike.

READ: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

The winter holiday season is usually one of the busiest for the parks.

But this year, while expected to be busier than normal, has surged more than some expected.

Abraham Pizam, founding dean of the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality, said that’s because people felt the potential reward outweighed the risk.

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“The ones who are flying nowadays, are flying to be with their families, for the new year for Christmas before that,” Pizam said.

And many people are carving out time for Orlando’s theme parks.

“I did expect it to spike, because of the holidays,” Pizam said. “People are cooped.”

SeaWorld will even set off fireworks to ring in the New Year. Many parkgoers along with thousands of locals who are 21 and over will be outside of the parks at midnight.

>>>Here’s where to safely watch New Year’s Eve fireworks in Central Florida to ring in 2021<<<

Officials said they’re asking people to make the responsible choice.

“We just hope that everyone complies with the executive orders that we have in place,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.