Disneyland is finally reopening later this week…
…as a massive COVID-19 vaccination site. Orange County, California officials announced that the theme park operator will host their first large Point-Of-Dispensing (POD) site for vaccine distribution. Probably not the “reopening” news most of you were hoping to read, but it’s a big development for a number of reasons, and likely a necessary prerequisite to Disneyland and DCA opening.
Disneyland Resort will be the first of five Super POD sites in Orange County with the capacity to vaccinate thousands of people every day. The other sites will be announced as their agreements are finalized in the coming days. The vaccination site at Disneyland Resort is expected to become operational later this week. Following that, it’s also likely that Walt Disney World will also serve as a super vaccination site in Florida, as we discuss below…
“The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county’s first Super POD site — undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process,” Andrew Do, Acting Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors told ABC 7 News. “We truly appreciate the support of the Orange County Fire Authority, our cities and our residents as we continue to rollout COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the county.”
“Disneyland Resort is proud to help support Orange County and the City of Anaheim with the use of our property, and we are grateful for all of their efforts to combat COVID-19. After a year in which so many in our community have faced unprecedented hardship and uncertainty, there is now reason for optimism with the administration of a vaccine,” said Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
Those immediately eligible for vaccinations at Disneyland Resort are people in California’s highest tier of priority, which includes workers in healthcare and long-term care facilities. Walk-ups will not be accommodated at the Disneyland Resort POD site, and recipients of the vaccine must show identification and proof of eligibility before being inoculated.
Residents of Orange County, California can consult the OC Health Care Agency’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution page for timeline info, plans, and an answer to the question: “when can I get vaccinated?” Residents are cautioned against prematurely seeking vaccination, as doing so ahead of schedule will overload the system and exacerbate existing challenges in distribution.
To all of you imagining you’ll be able to live your own Sleeping Beauty story, following in the enchanted footsteps of Aurora and getting pricked at Disneyland’s iconic castle, you might want to pump the brakes. That dream is about as close to Fantasyland as you’ll likely get.
The Point-Of-Dispensing site will not be located inside the parks or even in Downtown Disney. Rather, it’ll be in the Toy Story Parking lot, which is south of Disneyland and adjacent to Katella Ave and Harbor Boulevard, across from the Anaheim Convention Center. Honestly, I’m excited for anywhere that starts distributing the vaccine. If Chester and Hester offered it to me right now, I’d never say another negative word about Dino-Rama!
Speaking of Walt Disney World, the Florida complex is likely to also host a super vaccine distribution site for its Orange County, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Walt Disney World is discussing with Florida how it can help the vaccine efforts in any way, wanting to be a good community partner. This makes sense given Walt Disney World’s space–and many large parking lots. Additionally, Walt Disney World has the capacity to store the vaccine with an ultra-cold freezer, said state emergency director Jared Moskowitz during a virtual town hall last week.
On both coasts, it behooves Disney to assist in the vaccination process. The situation is obviously more urgent on the West Coast, as the faster Californians are inoculated, the sooner the parks can reopen.
However, even in Florida it will help things get back to normal faster and make some guests more comfortable returning to the parks. It’s also positive PR and a good look for the company after a slew of negative headlines about layoffs.
We also wonder whether this is something of an olive branch to the state of California after a bitter public standoff between the governor and company. While it certainly can’t hurt, we’re somewhat skeptical on that one. This is an agreement between Orange County and Disney, and that relationship was not contentious.
To the contrary, the City of Anaheim, Orange County, and the Walt Disney Company have been (more or less) on the same page for the last several months. Nevertheless, we’re hopeful that the move is perceived by the state at least as a good gesture on Disney’s part.
In other news (or non-news), it’s been about a month since we updated our When Will Disneyland Reopen? predictions based upon the standoff between the state and Disney, plus on the ground circumstances in Southern California.
Whether you live in California or not, you’ve probably seen the news and headlines. Skyrocketing case numbers. Overflowing hospitals. Ambulances waiting up to 8 hours to offload patients. People being turned away from emergency rooms. Makeshift morgues. Implementation of mass fatality management plans.
It should go without saying, but given the dire circumstances and crisis unfolding in Southern California, the reopening of Disneyland is not a top priority or front of mind for many. That includes the Walt Disney Company.
What’s playing out there right now is absolutely heartbreaking, and there are far more urgent priorities than theme parks. (With the benefit of hindsight, it’s probably for the best that Disneyland never reopened–the parks would certainly be closed again and the open and re-close process would likely be more costly and burdensome.)
Public health officials in the region have stated that they expect the latest surge resulting from Christmas and New Year’s gathers to continue over the next week or two. It should also go without saying, but as some point things will improve. Every other region of the United States that has seen soaring numbers has also seen a precipitous drop. Whether that be the Sun Belt over the summer or the Midwest in the fall, a consistent pattern has played out.
In Southern California’s circumstances, the timeline of that will likely coincide with the wider vaccine rollout. The natural decline converging with the vaccine will hopefully help California bounce back quickly later this winter or early this spring. Obviously, we’re not even remotely experts on the topic, but that’s our optimistic view of what’s otherwise undeniably bleak in the near-term.
Ultimately, that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions about California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy or Disneyland Resort’s reopening prospects. However, my anticipated timeline is more or less unchanged since the last update to the “When Will Disneyland Reopen?” post. I think it’ll probably happen a lot sooner than many expect, but perhaps that’s naive, wishful thinking.
While Disney obviously is not going to force the issue or continue the standoff right now, that will likely change in the months to come. It remains to be seen whether this mass vaccination site will amount to an olive branch that helps repair the relationship between California and Disney, but it certainly can’t hurt. Beyond that, with support eroding for the state’s leadership, Disney and other businesses are more likely to find a receptive audience in the public–if it even comes to that and California doesn’t just rewrite the reopening rules of their own volition to accelerate the process. But at this point, all of that is premature. Californians have a lot to endure before emerging out the other side of this.
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
What are your thoughts on this? Proud or optimistic to see Disney step up and offer the resort to Orange County as a Point-Of-Dispensing site for vaccine distribution? Oddly excited to see Pixar Pals or Mickey & Friends again? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!