Will the Happiest Place on Earth reopen anytime soon? After about seven months of remaining closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of California is still making life miserable for the companies that own the iconic amusement parks.
Disneyland in Southern California is one of several theme parks that received strict guidelines today about reopening, which Disney CEO Bob Chapek has described as “more stringent than any state across the country.” In addition to enforcing that all guests wear masks, using a reservation system for entry into the park, following floor markings that keep people 6 feet apart, and ensuring there is much more open space on rides, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly has also stated that large theme parks can’t open until the county in which they are situated reaches the highest of four tiers when it comes to COVID-19 spread. For instance, Disneyland and Universal Studios can only operate under Tier 4 “Yellow” (minimal), with a limited capacity of 25%. Meanwhile, Orange County is currently in the “Red” (substantial) tier, and Los Angeles County is in Tier 1 “Purple” (widespread).
“There is a path forward. We don’t know when, but we know how” the parks will reopen, reassured Dr. Ghaly. Although this seems like good news, Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock fired back, “We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world. Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities.”
Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu also criticized the guidelines as “failing working families and small business.” In September, Disney laid off 28,000 employees in both California and Florida, despite Disney World in Florida reopening in July.
Although “a path forward” is underway, until the number of COVID-19 cases decrease or guidelines become less strict, the Happiest Place on Earth will remain closed.