Yesterday, Disneyland Cast Members, Disney fans, and Walt Disney Company executives got the news they hadn’t been hoping for. Disneyland Resort, along with other large theme parks in the state of California, must remain closed until its county — Orange County, in this case — reaches the “minimal” Yellow tier for COVID-19 cases.
There is no doubt that Governor Newsom and his office knew how controversial this decision would be. Tension has been mounting for weeks between theme park officials and the California Governor. Walt Disney Company Executive Chairman Bob Iger even went so far as to quit Governor Newsom’s economic recovery task force over the reopening turmoil.
Last week, California government and health officials visited both local theme parks and theme parks in other parts of the country — including Florida, where Walt Disney World Resort is located — to learn more about operating procedures. In yesterday’s news conference Dr. Mark Ghaly shared details about what was learned from these trips:
“As it relates to theme parks, I think many of you know, we sent teams of local or state leaders in public health, in our business community, to visit with theme park operators to understand what the plans were, how those plans might guide our own decision making, and how we’re sure we are doing all we can to keep both employees and visitors at theme parks as safe as possible.”
“We also had the opportunity to send a small team to some of the operating parks in other parts of the nation, and they came back with lots of valuable lessons. Things that we saw that we were very reassured by were really great management of how lines were managed, keeping separate groups apart while in a line, while on a ride — really great lessons learned there. But also some things that, you know, raised some concern. The level of mixing, even without masks, that seemed very random and concerning to us. So those different areas of information were really assimilated and guided where we landed with this guidance.”
“People may keep their guard up while they’re in, let’s say, a theme park, but when they are milling around the community, their guard may go down. And that could be just enough to create outbreaks and transmission risks that California just doesn’t want to see.”
We certainly have seen what the impact is on our city.”
“We have a budget deficit of $75 million to $100 million and there is no doubt that is caused by the unprecedented closure of the parks for nearly seven months now. Also contributing to that, we have a convention center and the Honda Center and Angel Stadium are not doing what they typically do either, but the parks are the big driver, drawing about 25 million visitors a year.”
“Most folks who stay in a hotel here [including Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels] which is where we get most of our revenue, oftentimes they are coming to visit the parks.”
In other words, Anaheim needs visitors who will dine in restaurants, stay in hotels, and shop in local stores in order to even begin the economic recovery process.
At this time, there is no clear reopening date for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Disney has repeatedly stated that they have proven that their other five parks around the world have reopened responsibly, with Guests’ and Cast Members’ safety in the forefront.
For now, Disneyland fans can only continue to wait.
Stay tuned to Inside the Magic for the latest California theme park reopening news.