Outdoor Rides May Be Disneyland’s Ticket to Reopening

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The theme parks of the Disneyland Resort have been closed since mid-March, and a reopening date has not yet been announced. The park gates remain closed indefinitely, with the reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure being determined by the guidelines enacted by California Governor Gavin Newsom. And, since Gov. Newsom’s Blueprint For a Safer Economy reopening plan depends on the spread of COVID-19 throughout California, it appears that Disneyland will not open until the pandemic is under control.

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So, where is the hope for Disneyland Resort, and why might 2021 bring good news for the Southern California Disney Parks? Well, given the current theme park reopening guidelines, the spread of COVID-19 throughout California, the state’s stay-at-home order, and news about the coronavirus vaccine, there may be more hope than ever for Disneyland’s reopening. One answer to reopening the parks may be stricter guidelines when it comes to attractions.

What if Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen with only outdoor attractions operating?

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Months ago, guidelines for reopening theme parks in California leaked, and theme parks responded. Disney and Universal officials had shared that the proposed guidelines were too restrictive, and the State of California went back to the drawing board.

Later on, the official guidelines were released — and, as we reported, Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, and other California theme parks weren’t happy. At present, all the theme parks can do is wait — for Disney, the waiting period also means working with California on a health and safety campaign in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, which will, later on, help theme parks reopen.

But, if Disney wanted to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in more ways than the theme park reopening guidelines currently indicate, perhaps there can be an even stricter protocol in place to help Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen. If Disneyland Resort decides to only open outdoor attractions when the theme parks reopen initially, maybe that could help the parks reopen sooner. And maybe, operating the parks with only outdoor attractions to begin with will prevent them from potentially having to re-close.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined how COVID-19 is spread, advising, “Avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible. In general, being outdoors and in spaces with good ventilation reduces the risk of exposure to infectious respiratory droplets.”

Given what we know about how coronavirus spreads and the higher likelihood for disease transmission in indoor areas vs. outdoor spaces, it may be wise for theme parks like Disneyland to consider even more restricted operations when they reopen their gates.

As we know, the California theme park reopening guidelines state that it is possible for theme parks to be ordered to re-close if COVID-19 transmission rates later increase within the counties where these parks are located. Therefore, it may be wise for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to open their theme park gates but operate fewer attractions in the beginning in an effort to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Perhaps even more restricted Disneyland operations can serve as a test run for both Disney and the community. And, if all goes well, even more of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can slowly reopen in phases instead of most of the attractions reopening at the same time.

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So, which Disneyland rides could reopen first if Disney decides to go with a slower phased reopening of the theme parks’ offerings? Here are some (not all) of the outdoor attractions at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park that come to mind:

  • Mad Tea Party, Storybook Land Canal Boats, King Arthur’s Carrousel, Fantasyland, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland, Disneyland)
  • Autopia (Tomorrowland, Disneyland)
  • Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia (Rivers of America, Disneyland)
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse and Jungle Cruise (Adventureland, Disneyland)
  • IncrediCoaster, Jessie’s Critter Carousel, and Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind (Pixar Pier, Disney California Adventure)
  • Grizzly River Run (Grizzly Peak, Disney California Adventure)
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters (Cars Land, Disney California Adventure)
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Operating with most of the attractions will allow for more Cast Members to return. However, if only running outdoor attractions during the parks’ first phase of reopening will allow for the parks to operate even safer than planned, perhaps it would be a better move for Disney.

Disney officials have not shared which attractions will be operating when Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen. All they have announced is the following, which is written on the Disneyland Resorts Experience Updates webpage:

Upon reopening, certain theme parks, hotels, restaurants and other locations may be limited in capacity and subject to restricted availability or even closure based on guidance from health experts and government officials. Furthermore, certain attractions, experiences, services and amenities will be modified, have limited availability or remain closed.

We’ll update our website when Disney shares more information about the plans for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure attraction operations. For now, it is not yet clear what will and will not be open when the parks reopen. However, we’re eager to learn more as soon as it is announced.

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What do you think? Could Disneyland reopen sooner if the theme parks only operate with outdoor attractions in the beginning? Or should that not be a concern? Let us know in the comments. 

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