Did you ever wonder what the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme parks would look like without a single person in them? Although everyone who has visited Central Florida’s attractions during a busy period has probably dreamed of seeing the crowds vanish, I was heartbroken to have that wish come true on March 16, when I joined our friends from Attractions Magazine on a helicopter tour over Orlando’s closed theme parks during the first morning of their coronavirus shutdown.
Currently, all theme parks, cruise lines, and other attractions are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We at The Unofficial Guides hope all our readers and their loved ones, as well as all attraction employees, remain healthy and safe. Without intending to trivialize the current crisis, we will continue to post positive stories about the parks, in hopes of bringing their magic into your home as a welcome distraction during these trying times. For the latest updates, read our guide to coronavirus and the theme parks.
Thanks to the folks at Air Force Fun Helicopter Tours in Lake Buena Vista, I was allowed to tag along with reporters from Attractions Magazine on a 30-minute helicopter flight over Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, and International Drive.
This was my first experience in an open-door helicopter, and both I and my iPhone’s stabilizer were more than a little freaked out by the intense wind, but I still managed to snap some eerie shots of the empty attractions.
During our flight, I noted ride vehicles—like the Kilimanjaro Safaris truck and Jurassic Park River Adventure boats—parked backstage, along with mostly empty parking lots.
However, I saw hardly any employees inside the gates and very few signs of cleaning or construction crews at work.
About the only signs of life were along International Drive, where the rides at Fun Spot continued to run for a handful of visitors.
For more photos and videos from above the closed theme parks, check out Attractions Magazine’s coverage of their helicopter flight.