Busch Gardens, SeaWorld parks will close beginning Monday

The parks will continue paying full-time employees.

Busch Gardens Tampa will close beginning Monday as a result of ongoing fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the theme park announced Friday on Twitter.

“As part of our continued commitment to the safety of our guests and Ambassadors, and out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily closing all of our theme parks, effective March 16, through the end of the month,” park officials tweeted.

That includes all of the SeaWorld Entertainment properties nationwide. In addition to Busch Gardens in Tampa, the company operates Adventure Island in Tampa, SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, SeaWorld and Aquatica in San Diego, SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Point in Texas, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA in Virginia and Sesame Place in Pennsylvania.

“During this time essential personnel, including animal care experts, will continue to look after the health, safety and nutritional needs of the animals in our care. Our animal rescue and rehabilitation operations will also continue to operate. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will continue to pay our full-time Ambassadors during this period,” the company wrote.


The closure comes amid a flurry of other closures and cancellations. Walt Disney World and Disneyland are both temporarily closing.

Nationwide, major sporting events have been canceled in the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. In St. Petersburg, the Firestone Grand Prix INDYCAR race was also canceled.

Tampa canceled its River O’ Green celebration and St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend.

So far Florida has had 51 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 16 new cases reported Thursday night.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has recommended canceling or postponing any large gatherings of 250 or more people. President Donald Trump is expected to declare a national emergency Friday afternoon.

Individuals nationwide are increasingly being encouraged to practice social distancing wherever possible to limit contact with other people in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


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