The mass shooting attack on a downtown Orlando nightclub that left 49 dead and more injured shook the nation and the world last week, but none may feel its long-term effects more than the Orlando economy itself.
Of the more than 400 amusement and theme park attractions in the United States, some of the largest and most famous are housed directly in Orlando, including Disney World, Universal, and Sea World. With more than 63 million tourists in 2014 alone, Orlando is the “most visited destination in the nation.”
Among the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting were several Disney and Universal employees, all of which are located within a roughly 20-mile radius of each other.
“We are all heartbroken by the tragic and horrific events in Orlando,” Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement, “and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to everyone in our community affected by this senseless act.”
Universal Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Williams echoed similar sentiments. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by [this] tragedy,” he said. “We stand ready to help our community in any way we can.”
Security measures at all parks across Orlando are reportedly increasing after reports suggesting that Omar Mateen, the Pulse nightclub shooter, may have also scouted Disney World as a potential target. Metal detectors and bag checks have quickly become routine procedure at most attractions, along with other covert efforts.
“The safety of our ambassadors, guests and animals has always been our top priority,” read a statement from Sea World. “Our security teams work closely with law enforcement and we have enhanced security measures at all our parks. Like other major attractions and law enforcement agencies in the area, we do not comment on the details of our security measures in order to maintain their effectiveness.”
While the state’s many attractions and parks will attempt to carry on with business as usual this summer, the long-term effects the shooting may have on Orlando’s tourism industry are yet to be determined.