Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that “there’s no hurry putting out guidelines” to reopen Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Since then, Disney spoke out — and even a major California theme park association is calling the governor “unreasonable.”
“I understand the dialectic, the friction, the frustration that many business leaders have that they want to move forward sectorally to reopen,” Newsom said Wednesday. “But we’re going to be led by a health-first framework and we’re going to be stubborn about it. And that’s our commitment, that’s our resolve. And while we feel there’s no hurry putting out guidelines, we’re continuing to work with the industry, amusement parks.”
In the hours following Newsom’s statement, the California Attractions and Parks Association (CAPA) shared their opinion of the situation with Deadline. CAPA — which represents Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, and other theme and amusement parks across the state — has been instrumental in working toward clear guidelines from California when it comes to reopening parks. Last week, when the governor’s team said theme park reopening guidelines were to be presented on October 2, CAPA asked Newsom to delay the release so that more negotiations could take place, as parks like Disneyland and Universal were not happy.
But now that Newsom has shared that he is in no rush to reopen theme parks or even reveal reopening guidelines for Disneyland and others, CAPA is speaking out.
For context, CAPA represents Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld San Diego, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags (including Magic Mountain, Hurricane Harbor, and Discovery Kingdom), San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, and many more parks big and small.
Below is an excerpt of what CAPA Executive Director Erin Guerrero has shared regarding Newsom’s stance:
“California theme parks are a signature industry in California,” wrote the organization’s executive director, Erin Guerrero. “Parks have spent months developing comprehensive draft guidelines with input from international health and safety experts. Parks are ready to reopen with best practice protocols to provide a healthy and responsible environment for both guests and employees. We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon. Each day that parks are closed further decimates the amusement park industry. The Governor’s “no big rush” approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work.”
“When the Newsom Administration agreed not to finalize draft guidance that was floated last week, the governor’s staff committed to work with the theme park industry,” wrote Guerrero. “We hoped their commitment to working with us was genuine, that we’d finally work diligently and collaboratively on guidance to allow amusement parks to responsibly reopen within a reasonable timeframe. We agree that science and data should guide safety decisions, but keeping amusement parks closed indefinitely when there are no known outbreaks being traced back to reopened amusement parks worldwide is unreasonable.”
“Responsibly reopening amusement parks and fighting this pandemic do not need to be mutually exclusive,” she writes, “tens of thousands of amusement park workers and their families, businesses surrounding amusement parks, and desperate local governments are counting on the state to do both. Let’s get this signature California industry back to work.”
As we reported last night, the feud between theme parks and Governor Newsom is ongoing. Disney Parks issued a statement from the company’s Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel regarding Disney’s focus on health and safety when it comes to reopening the parks. Hymel’s statements indicated that Disney’s frustration and CAPA’s frustration are very much aligned.
“We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a ‘health-first’ approach,” Hymel said. “The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe. Our health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and experts in local government and health agencies. All of our other theme parks both in the United States and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols.
Since news broke that the release of guidelines for reopening California theme parks has been delayed, there has been no indication that the state will allow Disneyland Resort to reopen anytime soon.
We will continue to monitor the news pertaining to the reopening of theme parks in California, and we will report back when more developments for Disneyland Resort operations occur.