It was just a few days ago, when we reported on how there were efforts aimed at the highest levels of government to allow major theme parks to reopen earlier. That combined with swiftly improving numbers related to the pandemic, meant things were looking up for those who want to see theme parks reopen soon.
Today, according to reporting in the OC Register, California’s Governor has updated the guidelines for theme parks and when they might reopen. According to the new four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy, theme parks may reopen “once the counties they are located in reach the red-substantial tier two risk status.”
With Los Angeles and Orange County expected to shift into the red tier as early as next week, that would mean the reopening could happen a few weeks after that. The date of April 1 is being tossed around as likely, but that’s not an official reopening date, just one potential target.
Previously, Theme Parks would have had to wait two more tiers until the Yellow tier was reached. With Walt Disney World and other Orlando theme parks having been in operation with no outbreaks since mid-2020, it follows that if Disneyland observes the same strict safety guidelines, it should be allowed to reopen too.
As great as this sounds, don’t start planning your Disneyland vacations just yet. When the parks do reopen, they will be very limited in capacity and only open to California residents. It’s reported that just 15% capacity will be allowed and only for attractions that are outdoors or mostly outdoors.
Additional safety guidelines will be in effect including limited attraction capacity, social distancing in queues, and reduced indoor capacity. We also expect to see cast members helping enforce the a mask mandate via new training and new roaming positions.
Commemorating one year of closures and this good news, Disneyland President Ken Potrock, issued the following statement:
“A year ago, the thought of Disneyland Resort closing for 12 months seemed unimaginable. Yet here we are — although instead of marking a grim milestone, we are encouraged by today’s news from the state as we await specific guidelines. Due to our perseverance and collaboration with state leaders, we now believe we have a path to reopen this spring. As you know, it will take some time for us to ramp back up, but I am certain that we will come back stronger than ever! We look forward to sharing an opening date soon.
Last May I took on the dream role as president of the Disneyland Resort. I was beyond thrilled to join the talented team in Anaheim, and eager to become involved in the local community. Like many, I envisioned reopening the resort in short order, and getting our cast members back to work. But as COVID-19 cases spiked, this was not to be. We hunkered down and hoped that the numbers would fall. But days turned into weeks, weeks into months.
While we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, I want to acknowledge how difficult the last year has been. This pandemic has taken a devastating human toll…both in terms of lives and livelihoods, and I empathize with the personal pain so many have experienced. Shortly after closure, we furloughed nearly all of our cast members. A few months later our decision-making went from difficult to heartbreaking when, due to a lack of clarity about when we could reopen, we were forced to lay off thousands of our cast. We recognize that the year-long closure of the Disneyland Resort also means many local businesses are shuttered and their employees currently are out of work. Tens of thousands depend on us for employment…and the significance of this is not lost on me or any Disney leader. And we are heartened that our reopening will be the beginning of recovery for so many.
As we move forward, our mission as an organization has shifted. First, nothing is more important than getting people back to work in an environment that promotes health and safety. And we couldn’t be more excited to begin to bring many of our cast back.
Second, we have long touted the fact the Disneyland Resort is the unprecedented economic engine within the region, driving tourism and tax revenue for vital services. This is a responsibility we take seriously and embrace heartily. We will continue to find ways to work effectively with local residents, city and county leaders, resort Area businesses and nonprofit organizations. I am proud of how cast members have rallied around the community throughout our closure and heartened that we have been able to donate millions of dollars in surplus toys, 200 tons of product to food banks to feed those in need, and much-needed protective equipment including N-95 masks to first responders…and there are many other support efforts by both the company and our cast beyond those listed.
Finally, when we will fully reopen we will do so in a responsible way and showcases our multifaceted capabilities, just as we have at our other parks around the world. We’ve already begun to do this with a stair-stepped approach. In July, we reopened the Downtown Disney District and followed with additional shopping and dining on Buena Vista Street. Later this month, we will debut “A Touch of Disney,” a ticketed experience at Disney California Adventure park, and based on the enthusiastic response from our guests when tickets went on sale, we know they are eager to get a dose of Disney magic. What’s more, this experience enables us to bring back more than 1,000 cast members. As we responsibly reopen Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks and our hotels once again, we look forward to welcoming back thousands more.
Walt Disney once said, “The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.” A cynic might say that lately there has been little to be grateful for. But I’m an eternal optimist and the past months have helped me be even more laser focused on what I am most grateful for… our community, our guests and our cast.
To our community: For 65 years Anaheim has been our home, and together we will rebound. Never has a strong community been more critical and we will continue to find ways to invest in the city, bring back tourism and strengthen our valued relationships. Thank you.
To our guests: You are the reason we exist and we miss you. You motivate us to continue to innovate and provide a cherished place to make memories with your loved ones, and we are humbled to play such an important role in your lives. Thank you.
And especially to our cast: You have always been, and most definitely still are, the soul of the Disneyland Resort. I could not be prouder of the countless ways you’ve supported each other throughout this crisis. For those who have been working to maintain the magic and preserve the place that Walt Disney himself built, I know how seriously you take that responsibility and I appreciate your resilience, optimism and continued passion. And to those who have been patiently awaiting news of our reopening, I am grateful for your continued dedication, grace and never-ending support. I have every confidence that our comeback will be legendary — and I can’t wait to celebrate together.”– Ken Potrock, Disneyland President
We are so happy to hear the news that Disneyland will soon be able to hire back more of its cast members and welcome some guests. Even if it’s a limited capacity.
If everyone who is eligible gets the jab, then Disneyland might even be operating at something approaching full capacity by late-Summer. That would be amazing.
We’ve followed Ken Potrock throughout his career at Disney. He’s one of the good eggs, we think. If you want someone who can make sure things are ship shape and running efficiently, but still keeping great show for guests, Ken is the one you want leading the way. So we felt bad for Ken when he good his dream job, and then had to deal with all horrible changes.
We know it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows immediately, but overtime we hope to see the Disneyland Resort back at full strength and making magic for guests. Good luck to Ken and the entire cast.