John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County, California, has seen a rise in tourism and flights since February of 2020.
According to the Orange County Business Journal, Orange County’s famous airport — just 15 miles from Disneyland Resort — has seen an increase in general aviation activity increasing in September 2020. Overall, airport traffic increased to 4.8% to 19,186 total flights, representing 84% of John Wayne Airport aircraft operations.
Since the closure of Disneyland Resort and other theme parks in March, airport traffic plunged 97% to 25,313, and a 91% drop in May of 2020.
While this is a sign of optimism for the suffering Orange Country, year-to-date traffic is down 63% to roughly 3 million.
Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Knotts Berry Farm have stayed closed due to ongoing issues with California Government officials and Governor Newsom, but John Wayne Airport is serving more tourists in September-October than they have over the last few months.
Though California just issued its theme parks brand new guidelines for reopening, Disneyland is expected to remain closed for the upcoming months. On October 20, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced its official theme park reopening guidelines. Disneyland and large theme parks are now allowed to reopen in a Yellow tier, but Orange County remains in California’s second-most restrictive tier, the “substantial” Red tier.
California’s confusing Candyland-like colored tier system leaves large theme parks in the dark on how to reopen in the foreseeable future. Anaheim officials and Disney officials alike have expressed their disappointment in California’s response in reopening their theme parks and are considering taking legal actions.
Disney recently laid off over 28,000 employees, mainly attributed to Disneyland’s continual closure, and California theme park executives fear more mass layoffs are coming.
Though the theme parks are ready to reopen, and Disney has proven repeatedly, California is not making any leeway when it comes to reopening its theme parks. Disneyland itself has lost over $2 billion, while Southern California and Orange Couty has lost $5 billion in revenue.
Despite all of this, John Wayne Airport welcomes thousands of more tourists for their nearby beaches and beautiful California weather. Many hope this increase in activity continues, as it will bring more visitors to an area that has suffered due to the ongoing closure of theme parks.