News/Op-Ed: Disneyland’s Reopening Hopes Swiftly Shut Down As California Governor Gavin Newsom Tightens Restrictions

by Aeden Alexander

Disneyland Park in Anaheim is struggling to reopen their doors due to the most recent Covid-19 requirements, or restrictions, released by the State of California. This marks only the third time in Disneyland history that the theme park has been closed.

In March of this year, Disneyland closed their doors “Out of Abundant Precaution” due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic.  Disneyland Parks in Anaheim, Disney World in Florida and Disney Paris were among the first Disney parks to close its doors. Following suit due to rising infection rates, the remaining parks and resorts throughout the entire world also closed their doors. 

Fast forward to 7 months later, all other Disney Theme parks and resorts in the entire world have managed to reach their state, county, or country’s mandated requirements to safely open and get back to business. The one outlier, though, is Disneyland in Anaheim due to California’s struggles to contain the virus. 

During a recent press conference, Governor Newsom discussed the reopening requirements. While the California government is working with the theme parks operations team, there is “ No Hurry in putting out guidelines” regarding theme parks until public health goals are met. However, Disney Resorts President Ken Potrock isn’t having any part of it, stating that the new guidelines are “Unfair” and “Unworkable”. The Mayor of Anaheim has also joined in with his opinion stating that “These guidelines fail working families and small businesses. As painful as this is, Disney and the City of Anaheim will survive. But too many Anaheim hotels, stores and restaurants will not survive another year of this”.

Chairman of Disney Parks, Josh D’Amaro recently announced that 28,000 employees from the Parks in Anaheim and Florida and other Disney segments “at all levels” will be laid off. This is due to the long duration of Covid-19 with the limited capacity restrictions and social distancing required to reopen. D’Amaro also stated that this layoff for the Anaheim location is also “ Exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen”. 

The current requirements to reopen for Orange County, where the theme park is located, must reach the highest of four tiers and must also limit guest capacity to 25% allowed in the park at any given time once the park reopens.

The status to reopen Disneyland is still in limbo. President Ken Potrock stated that “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 Communities”.  

As park goers, employees and business owners wait around for the state and theme parks to somehow work out a fair and safe agreement, the Happiest Place on Earth sits uncomfortably dark thinking only “Happy Thoughts” and crossing their fingers that someday soon Mickey and his gang will welcome them back with open arms to the Happiest Place on Earth.

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