A Bird’s-Eye View of Orlando’s Closed Theme Parks


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.

Orlando closed theme parks helicopter tour
See what Orlando’s closed theme parks looked like from an open-air helicopter ride on the first day of coronavirus closures. (Photos by Seth Kubersky).

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.

Disney Springs
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Pandora—The World of Avatar
Blizzard Beach
SeaWorld Orlando

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.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Hogsmeade
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Volcano Bay
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

About the only signs of life were along International Drive, where the rides at Fun Spot continued to run for a handful of visitors.

Top Golf
The Wheel at ICON Park
Fun Spot America on International Drive
Future site of O-Town West and White Castle

For more photos and videos from above the closed theme parks, check out Attractions Magazine’s coverage of their helicopter flight.

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  1. Annie Long March 18, 2020Reply

    Wow, creepy! But fascinating, too. Let’s all do everything we can to be sure this crisis ends as soon as it can. I appreciate your commitment to go up in a helicopter to document these uncanny views for all of us who have a vested interest in our beloved theme parks! That’s what I call brave and above and beyond the call of duty, emphasis in above! LOL

    • Seth Kubersky March 18, 2020Reply

      Thanks for the kind words! It was a one in a lifetime opportunity, and I never want to do it again…

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