Disneyland just released a statement via the official Disney Parks News Twitter account that indicates the reopening of both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland has been delayed from the planned date of July 17, 2020, with no opening date set.
This comes as California, and Orange County in particular, have seen a recent surge in cases as reopening plans have moved forward. It’s also occurring against the backdrop of Cast Member petitions, and a call by some union leaders to protest outside of the parks in Anaheim.
Here’s the statement from Disneyland Resort in full:
“We previously announced a proposed phased reopening of our theme parks for July 17, pending government approvals. We developed enhanced health and safety protocols for both Cast Members and guest at Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Walt Disney World Resort that have been approved, allowing us to reopen in a responsible manner and bring our Cast Members back to work.
The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of Cast Members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials.
Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date.
Our Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9, 2020 as previously announced with health and safety protocols in place for our Cast Members and guests. The opening of Downtown Disney District has been previously approved in line with restaurant and retail openings throughout California. The Master Services Union, which represents our retail Cast at this location, previously signed an agreement for members to return to work.
In order to reopen our theme parks, we need to negotiate agreements with our unions to return employees to work. We have had positive discussions and are very pleased to have signed agreements from 20 union affiliates, including the Master Services Council, which represents more than 11,000 of our Cast Members. The signed agreement details plans that include enhanced safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen, and get thousands of our Cast Members back to work.
We thank our Cast Members and guests for their patience during this unprecedented time while we await approval from government officials.”
Reading between the lines a bit, it seems there’s an aura of animosity and mild annoyance towards the State of California (in not moving faster to approve reopening plans) and towards local unions (in presenting roadblocks to reopening). It’s the same type of below-the-surface tension that used to imbue press releases during the peak of when Disneyland Resort and the City of Anaheim were at odds.
While blaming the lack of approval from the State of California is a convenient excuse for Disney to postpone the reopening, we suspect there’s more to the decision than that, and the approval process is simply the best face-saving option to present publicly. Additionally, it’s likely no coincidence that the union agreements and cooperation are mentioned numerous times in that statement, offering subtle pushback against the narrative that unions and Cast Members are against the reopening plans.
As mentioned above, unions representing Disneyland Resort Cast Members have (had?) planned a protest caravan around the Anaheim theme park this weekend to express concerns over health and safety as Disneyland and Disney California Adventure planned to reopen next month.
The unions planned to protest via a caravan circling the resort “as an action to show our concerns regarding safety,” per a message from the unions to members on their Facebook page. Reaction among Cast Members has been mixed, some expressing fear that the reopening was moving forward too quickly in light of increasing cases, whereas others felt financial concerns should Disney delay the reopening date.
Just last week, the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions sent an open letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom expressing their concern for both workers and would-be park guests as Disneyland Resort attempts to receive clearance from California for resuming operations next month.
Open petitions calling for Disneyland to postpone the reopening have likewise gained traction among Cast Members and locals. Despite this, it’s still difficult to gauge the widespread sentiment among employees and guests. Minimally, it’s fair to say there’s some degree of split.
Even with the slow trickle of news calling the reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure into question, we didn’t see this coming. Our expectation was that California would continue to plow forward with the state’s reopening, as the increasing caseload hasn’t caused the state to roll back its plans as of yet.
The California Department of Health reported an additional 7,149 new cases today, a 69% increase in two days, bringing the state’s total to 190,222 cases. Orange County has had 3,080 new cases in the last 14 days. In the same time period, Los Angeles County has had 22,606 new cases and Riverside County has had 4,958 new cases.
While the circumstances are somewhat different in Florida, there are similar parallels in terms of an explosion in the number of cases (it’s still too early to call this a second wave–we’re not yet out of the first). That resulted in new quarantine restrictions, this time enacted by New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for arrivals from Florida (full details in our updated Quarantine Rules for Travelers to Walt Disney World post).
Obviously, the two topics aren’t directly related, and the reason proffered by Disney for indefinitely postponing the reopening of Disneyland wouldn’t apply to Walt Disney World in the least. Nevertheless, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a point at which Disney gets cold feet about reopening Walt Disney World, especially if the situation in Florida continues to escalate. We’ll keep you posted about all of the reopening news, so stay tuned.
Are you surprised by Disneyland’s delay in reopening? Will you be visiting Disneyland or Disney California Adventure when the parks are able to resume operations, or will you wait? Surprised by this announcement? Do you expect that California’s government will fast-track Disneyland’s reopening, or think another stay-at-home order is on the horizon? Any questions? 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!