In a potentially significant development for the reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference earlier today and announced that some areas of the state, including Orange County, are approved for accelerated reopening. In this post, we’ll cover what that means for the parks, and when they might be able to open as a result.
By way of quick recap, Disneyland’s public moves thus far have more or less mirrored Walt Disney World, with the last major developments being at the beginning of May. The first big news then was California’s unveiling of its four-stage roadmap for reopening the state, which didn’t seem too promising for theme parks.
That was followed by Disneyland Delaying Reservations Until July 1, 2020. At the time, it seemed like even the beginning of July was overzealous, as California officially was indicating that both Stages 3 and 4 were months (if not longer) away. Of course, a lot has changed since then, and there’s reason for optimism if you’re hoping to visit Disneyland Resort sometime this summer…
Based on Newsom’s press conference today, it sounds like Stage 3 will be bifurcated, with select counties now allowed to begin reopening hair salons and barbershops. Yesterday, California released guidelines for resuming religious services. These activities add to a growing list of businesses that can be resumed statewide or in certain counties, including in-person retail shopping and dine-in restaurants.
Under Newsom’s original four-stage reopening plan, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other grooming services, gyms, sports competitions in empty stadiums, and religious services were set to open in Stage 3. Newsom made no mention of sports returning or gyms reopening, which are both expected to begin later on in the third stage.
Thus far, 47 out of 58 California counties have met the state’s standards for reopening, which include preparations to increase hospital capacity, testing and supplies of protective equipment. Orange County is included among these, while Los Angeles is not. If you’re wondered about the basis for the discrepancy, Orange County has had 5,578 confirmed cases, whereas LA County has had 47,845 cases.
Most counties in California have not been hit nearly as hard as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Accordingly, California has continued to ease its stay-at-home restrictions under a county-by-county approach, and amidst growing pressure and discontent from some residents and friction with local governments.
Joining gyms and sports in the second phase of Stage 3 could be theme parks. In a statement to OC Register, California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar said, “theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable.”
Per Folmar, California theme parks are among higher risk businesses and gatherings that would reopen in Stage 3 with adaptations and limits on the size of gatherings. “The California Department of Public Health will issue detailed guidance with suggested modifications for how to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread when theme parks reopen,” said Folmar.
California’s state government will work with its theme parks on developing health and safety reopening plans. This could happen in the near term, according to Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster, who further indicated that Disneyland has not submitted a reopening plan to the city, county or state.
According to Lyster, Anaheim will be closely watching the phased openings of Shanghai Disneyland and Walt Disney World to learn best practices that can be applied to Southern California’s theme parks.
This means that Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, and other theme parks fall into Stage 3 of California’s road map for reopening, and could reopen as soon as next month.
OC Register includes Universal Studios Hollywood on this list, but that doesn’t seem right given that USH is in Los Angeles County. Recent public statements by Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer suggest the possibility of a much longer lockdown for Los Angeles.
Among the amusement parks that could reopen on the accelerated timeline is Six Flags Magic Mountain. This park got a jumpstart on this development by releasing its comprehensive plan of new health and safety measures to help keep guests and team members safe. The announcement came prior to Newsom’s press conference, via a video released by the park via Twitter.
While Six Flags Magic Mountain is not a park in which we have a ton of interest, its plans are fascinating. Most notably, these include requiring reservations for park access, thermal imaging to check the temperatures of guests entering the park, mandatory masks for everyone, high-tech security screenings for contactless bag check, and more. Minimally, it would be great if Disneyland would follow Six Flags’ lead on thermal imaging and contactless bag checks.
As we’ve previously noted, the San Diego Tourism Authority released its own Attractions Re-Opening Plan for Legoland California, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, and more.
That document was developed for the express purpose of reopening those attractions in Stage 3, and likely serves as the template other theme parks, including Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, will follow in reopening in this next stage.
Ultimately, this still doesn’t offer certainty about when Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will actually open. Even though theme parks will likely be able to open sometime in June 2020, this doesn’t mean Disneyland Resort will be ready to go by then–especially if the plan is to watch how things go at Walt Disney World and learn from that.
However, it’s promising that Orange County, California has moved into the beginnings of Stage 3, and the area’s cases remain comparatively low. The other good news is that Disneyland Resort is smaller and more nimble than Walt Disney World, so the turnaround time and start-up speed to get things back to normal should be relatively quick. This means there’s still a good chance of Disneyland & DCA being back up and running sometime this summer.
Think Orange County’s accelerated Stage 3 bodes well for Disneyland? Do you predict that Disneyland Resort will reopen by July 1, 2020…or will it be at some point later this summer? Do you think the measures set out in the San Diego Attractions Re-Opening Plan will be utilized at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure? Any questions we can help you answer? Keep comments respectful, apolitical, and on topic. Anything not following these requirements will be removed, as will excessive back and forth arguments.