ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — With Orange County removing its state of emergency on Wednesday, and international tourists returning to Central Florida on Nov. 8, local attractions are making decisions about how they will operate going forward.

What You Need To Know

  •  Orange County ended its COVID-19 state of emergency Wednesday

  •  The move allows individual businesses to decide what kind of COVID-19 precautions they want to take

  • At the Titanic Artifact Exhibition and Dinner Gala, masks are currently optional for guests while employees wear face shields

At the Titanic Artifact Exhibition and Dinner Gala on I-Drive, some things have gone back to normal, but others will continue as what many have gotten to know as the "new normal."

Wearing a uniform similar to the one Edward Smith wore as he captained the RMS Titanic in 1912, Donn Lamkin can be seen, beard and all, ushering visitors into the Titanic Artifact Exhibition. 

“Welcome aboard Titanic,” he said with a smile.

Lamkin is the entertainment director for the exhibit and said he is excited about more passengers hopping on board his "Ship of Dreams."

“Understand the state of emergency has been lifted," he said while showing off a piece of the actual Titanic ship. "What that does for us is it helps us increase the numbers of guests for our guided tours and our dinner gala.”

In the past six months, the dinner show has gone from 50 guests to 60, and in a matter of weeks will welcome back a capacity crowd of 80. Another part of the experience that has gotten back to normal is the ability to touch actual pieces of history.

In 2019 the exhibit booked about 65,000 visitors; in 2020 the business nearly sank after being closed for eight months during the pandemic. This year the exhibit is on pace for 80,000 guests, and that only includes a small number of international travelers who, on average, account for about 60% of their business.

“It’s time just to release a little bit and have a good time, we thrive on entertainment — all of us,” Lamkin said.

Moving forward, masks will be optional for guests while employees will wear face shields. The number of guests allowed during guided tours will also increase. 

Times may have been dark for many in the tourist sector, but Lamkin and others are now looking to steer out if it, and are looking forward to new horizons.

The exhibit is open seven days a week year round and only closes for Christmas Day.

Like so many businesses across Central Florida, the exhibit is also looking for workers — about a dozen.