Disneyland And Universal Studios Reopening: California Issues Guidelines, Universal And Disney Respond

It’s the question on the minds of so many theme park fans: When will Disneyland reopen? While there is still no set date, the state of California has revealed the guidelines that must be met in order for the parks to open. This comes after Disney announced it was laying off 28,000 workers, partially blaming the state for not allowing them to reopen. Don’t get too excited, though, as it may still be some time before the gates open–a possibility Disney is unhappy about.

As announced by California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, via The Hollywood Reporter, theme parks will be able to open at 25% capacity when the counties they exist in reach Tier 4 (yellow) status in the state’s four-tiered system. The guidelines to achieve Tier 4 status are less than one new daily case per 100,000 people and less than 2% positive tests.

Currently, Orange County–home to Disneyland–is in Tier 2 (red), which means there are 4-7 daily cases per 100,000 people and a 5-8% positive test rate. Universal Studios Hollywood is in Los Angeles County, which is currently Tier 1 (purple) with more than 7 daily cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of over 8%.

Once the counties reach Tier 4, they will be allowed to open–but there are some rules being imposed by the state. Once open, in addition to the 25% capacity limit, all ticket reservations must be made in advance. There are to be no day-of ticket sales. Beyond that, masks will be required inside the parks. Currently, the shopping complexes attached to both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood are open. Both require masks and take guest temperatures.

Shortly after the state revealed its guidelines, Disney responded in a statement. “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,” Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock said. “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. Together with our labor unions we want to get people back to work, but these State guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community.”

Likewise, Universal Studios Hollywood is not pleased with the new guidelines. In a statement, the park’s president and chief operating officer Karen Irwin commented, “Pushing us into Tier Four behind other businesses that have already reopened makes no sense. It ignores science, reason and the economic devastation this will bring to the thousands of our employees, the indirect businesses that rely on us, and our industry overall.” She continued, “The health and safety of our guests and team members has always been our top priority. We have designed detailed health and safety protocols that allowed us to open our theme parks in Orlando, Osaka, and Singapore. We have collaborated with LA County health and government officials on a comprehensive plan to move forward safely here, and we are prepared and ready to reopen. Our theme parks are controlled primarily outdoor businesses that we have proven we can operate responsibly.”

Ultimately, Irwin said that theme parks should fall under Tier 3. Keeping them in Tier 4, she believes, will mean parks won’t open until sometime in 2021. “Our employees are ready to go back to work and the fact that they won’t be able to do so until well into next year is shameful,” she said.

Disney and Universal’s parks in Florida are open to the public, with restrictions in place. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the state of Florida has also seen a decline in testing. In July, an average of 54,400 daily tests were administered. Now, the state averages less than half that. Thus far, no outbreaks have been traced back to Disney World’s guests or employees, according to the New York Times.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Universal Studios Hollywood.

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