Update on Guidelines for California Theme Parks

in Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood

california theme parks

After seven months of being closed and after several weeks of confusion and delays regarding a timeline and reopening guidelines, we finally have some updates regarding the operations of California theme parks.

Large theme parks including Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as smaller theme parks located throughout California, have been wanting to reopen their doors — Disney officials even said they have been ready to reopen since July.

Now, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly just released an update on reopening guidelines for some of California theme parks.

Related: Disneyland vs. California: A Timeline of Confusing Events

mickey and minnie disneyland toontown
Credit: Disney

CA Theme Park Guidelines Update

During today’s press conference, Dr. Ghaly said that California was “very reassured” by what they saw when visiting the theme parks in Florida, such as social distancing and how the lines to rides and attractions were being handled. However, there were also some things that raised some concern at the parks, such as the level of mixing groups even without masks.

“Part of what has guided this is this notion that they are higher risk settings and lower risk settings,” Dr. Ghaly said.

theme park guidelines

In what Dr. Ghaly explained, it is clear that the characteristics of a theme park that welcomes vacationers from other states would fall into a higher-risk setting, which you can see in the screenshot above.

Outdoor stadiums are viewed as lower-risk because, for example, seating is assigned and there are far less opportunities for people to be mixing or pass by each other. Whereas with theme parks, there is a lot more opportunity for “random mixing” of people and less control of who passes by each other.

theme park guidelines

Smaller Theme Parks

California has several smaller theme parks, including Pacific Park, Belmont Park, Adventure City, Castle Park, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Gilroy Gardens, Funderland, Happy Hollow, and others.

These smaller theme parks, which are defined as “parks with overall capacity fewer than 15,000 based on the design/operating capacity or fire department occupant” can resume operation in Tier 3 (Moderate/Orange) under a limited capacity of 25% or 500, whichever is fewer.

Larger Theme Parks

All of the theme parks, including the larger ones such as Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, can resume operations in Tier 4 (Yellow/Minimal) under a limited capacity of 25%.

All Theme Parks

For all theme parks, face masks are required, a reservation system must be implemented. When speaking to face masks, Dr. Ghaly said “Face coverings must be made available to visitors who lose their face coverings during a ride or attraction.”

“No indoor queuing is allowed for any attraction or ride. For indoor attractions and rides, develop an outdoor queuing system prior to entry into the attraction’s indoor operation,” Dr. Ghaly also said.


According to OC Register, “The new guidelines mean Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other large theme parks won’t be able to reopen for weeks or months until their respective counties reach the least-restrictive ‘minimal’ risk level.”

Outdoor Stadiums

When speaking to outdoor events, Dr. Ghaly shared that they may resume:

  • In Tier 3 at 20% and in Tier 4 at 25% capacity.
  • Ticket sales must be restricted to customers within 120 miles radius.
  • Advance ticket sales and assigned seats must be implemented.
  • No eating or drinking (unless in assigned seats).
  • Face coverings required throughout stadium unless eating or drinking.
  • Tailgating prohibited.

You can view the full press conference below.

This update on theme park guidelines comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom’s team visited both California theme parks and Florida theme parks, including Walt Disney World, as well as after fans petitioned outside of the Disneyland Park and Disney California Park gates last weekend. Still, just yesterday, several unions representing Disneyland Resort Cast Members wrote a letter to Newsom asking for collaboration on reopening guidelines.

Since this article was published, both the Anaheim mayor and Disneyland Resort have released official statements in response to the guidelines:

We’ll continue to update Inside the Magic as more information becomes available.

in Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood

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