This is a huge week for California theme park news.
Read More: California Theme Parks Can Reopen VERY SOON!
On Thursday, both Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood began selling tickets for their new limited-time events, during which Guests will be allowed to shop and dine — but not ride any attractions! — inside the parks.
One day later, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a “Blueprint refresh” and revamped the state’s reopening guidelines. With that, California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly outlined the new reopening guidelines for California theme parks.
Based on the new rules, the theme parks of the Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood ( as well as other parks like Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland California, SeaWorld San Diego, and more) are allowed to reopen as early as April 1.
But what does it all mean, and where will Disney and Universal go from here? Let’s break it down.
Changes to Guidelines For Reopening Theme Parks
As reported, there are some huge changes in the guidelines for reopening theme parks in California.
- Larger theme parks (with occupancies over 15,000 Guests) including Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood were not permitted to reopen until the counties in which each theme park is located reached tier 4, the least restrictive tier in the Blueprint For a Safer Economy.
- In order to reach tier 4 — also known as the yellow or minimal tier — a county would have to only be recording one new COVID-19 case per 100,000 residents, per day.
- Upon reopening in tier 4, theme parks like Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Universal Studios would be only permitted to operate at a 25% capacity, and advanced reservations would be required in order for Guests to visit the theme parks. Other health and safety protocol — including the requirement of face masks — would also have to be in place.
Now, things have significantly changed. Below are is a glimpse of the new guidelines:
- All theme parks, regardless of size, are now permitted to reopen when the county in which each theme park is located reaches tier 2.
- In order for a county to reach tier 2 — also known as the red or substantial tier — a county would be recording between four and seven new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, per day.
- Upon reopening in tier 2, the theme park can operate at 15% capacity. Later, once the county reaches tier 3 and then tier 4, the theme park can operate at 25% and then 35% capacity, respectively.
- Upon reopening in tier 2, no indoor dining is permitted at the theme park, and there are limitations places on indoor attractions.
- In tier 2, indoor attractions must operate at only 15% capacity; later, in tiers 3 and 4, indoor attractions can operate at 25% capacity.
- Outdoor attractions have fewer restrictions.
- Theme parks should only be accepting visitors from the State of California, for the time being.
Additionally, the Blueprint For a Safer Economy has been updated to reflect this “Blueprint refresh.” The website stated, “The guidance is in the process of being updated. Check CDPH’s activity and business tiers table for information about the upcoming changes.” So, we have included the tiers table below so you can see how the old guidelines compare to the new ones. Note that the old guidelines are described under “Current” and the new ones are listed under “Effective April 1, 2021.”
As officials shared, “Regardless of trigger being met, these activities (amusement parks) cannot begin any sooner than April 1, 2021.”
Note that neither Disneyland Resort nor Universal Studios Hollywood has offered specifics regarding how they will operate according to the new guidelines outlined by the State of California. However, we expect more information to be released in the coming days and weeks.
Disneyland Reopening News Is Coming Soon
Since the guidelines were released, Disneyland Resort President issued the following statement:
“We are encouraged that theme parks now have a path toward reopening this spring, getting thousands fo people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community. With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our Guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”
Although this is a positive response to the “refresh” of theme park reopening guidance, it is not a reopening date, leaving many still questioning, When will Disneyland reopen?
Fans are already speculating what these guidelines mean for the new limited-time event coming to Disney California Adventure, A Touch of Disney. Due to popular demand, Disney extended ticket availability for the now-sold-out event. So fans will be visiting the Southern California theme park destination for A Touch of Disney from March 18 through April 18 on select days throughout the week.
But since the theme park reopening guidelines indicate that the Southern California Disney Parks could reopen as early as April 1, does that mean that Disney will cancel A Touch of Disney in April and refund tickets, or opt to reopen Disneyland in early April and Disney California Adventure later on in the month, after the ticketed event has concluded? Alternatively, could Disney decide to run A Touch of Disney through April 18, allowing all Guests who purchased tickets to experience the event, and then reopen both theme parks fully at the end of April or early May?
Right now, any of the options above seem possible, but it’s important to keep in mind that none of them have been confirmed or even hinted at by Disney. The only thing we know for certain is that Disneyland Resort plans to announce a reopening date soon, now that the guidelines allow theme parks to reopen when the county in which they are located reaches tier 2 (instead of tier 4, as previously required).
Universal Studios Is “Ready to Reopen”
Universal also shared a response to the new guidelines to reopen theme parks, which would allow Universal Studios Hollywood to reopen as soon as Los Angeles County reaches tier 2 (both LA County and Orange County are in tier 1 currently).
“We are ready to reopen, ready to bring our team members back to work, ready to help stimulate the local economy and ready to welcome guests,” said Universal Studios Hollywood President Karen Irwin.
On Thursday, March 4 — the same day that tickets went on sale, and later sold out, for A Touch of Disney at Disney California Adventure — Universal Studios Hollywood began selling tickets for their own event, Taste of Universal. The park is still selling tickets for select dates from March 12 through April 4, and so far there is little indication that the event will be canceled.
Similarly, fans are wondering, how will Universal Studios approach reopening? It seems likely that the theme park destination will operate for shopping and dining only with the Taste of Universal event through early April. So, we can probably expect a reopening date to be announced very soon, possibly for the second week of next month.
While Universal Studios Hollywood has not yet announced a reopening date, the theme park is known for dropping huge news without much notice, so there is a strong possibility that we could be getting an announcement from Universal before we get one from Disney. We’ll have to wait and see.
As mentioned, the new theme park reopening guidelines allow California parks like Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood to reopen in tier 2, meaning it could only be a matter of weeks before they reopen their gates and begin allowing Guests to ride their favorite attractions again. When official reopening dates are revealed, we will be sure to share the big news.
What do you think of these new guidelines? Are you excited for theme parks in California to reopen soon? Let us know in the comments.