Disney expects full Florida theme parks by year-end

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, part of the Orlando area in Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, part of the Orlando area in Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Walt Disney World could approach full capacity by the end of the year, Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Chapek said during the JPMorgan 49th Annual Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference on Monday.

Chapek said his team anticipates “low double-digit growth” as the company follows federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus operating guidelines, according to a transcript of the conference.

“Well, we hope depending on the park, right, because you’ve got Disneyland which just opened, so it’s much further down the curve versus Walt Disney World where we’ve been doing this now for about nine months,” Chapek said, according to the transcript. “So, we are hoping that by the end of the year, like I said, that we would be at a point where we would start to accrue most of the benefits both from an attendance standpoint and from a bottom-line standpoint in terms of when we will get there.”

Since reopening in Florida last July, the company has slowly expanded the daily number of people allowed to access its Central Florida facilities. Disney hasn’t released any attendance numbers, however.

Meanwhile, Chapek claimed that many of the workers laid off due to the pandemic are back on the job.

“I think if you think about the throttles to the increase in attendance, I think there’s a couple of things we have to consider that sort of frame that up a little bit and one of them, of course, is labor,” Chapek said in the transcript.

He noted that there have “been plenty of headlines” about difficulties employers have encountered while trying to fill job openings.

“We’ve actually had a really good go at it. We have found that the great majority of our cast members who we called back are ready, willing and able to return. So we are very, very pleased with that. And that’s of course a big one,” Chapek said.

On Tuesday, SeaWorld announced that employees would no longer have to wear masks if fully vaccinated. SeaWorld earlier said guests who have been vaccinated would no longer have to wear masks at its Florida facilities. The company isn’t requiring guests to show proof of vaccination.