It’s the question California Gov. Gavin Newsom can’t escape: When will Disneyland reopen?
The week marking six months since Disneyland (and every other theme park in California) closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been marked by numerous calls for Newsom to issue guidelines for allowing parks to reopen.
Reports on Tuesday of a $100 million budget shortfall in the city of Anaheim due to Disneyland’s closure was followed by a Wednesday press conference where Orange County mayors pressed Newsom to release guidelines.
“This is about opening Disneyland to save hundreds of small businesses,” said Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. “Tens of thousands of jobs. Making sure my city can provide basic municipal services without going broke.”
That same day, Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock released an uncharacteristically critical statement, saying it was “disappointed with the state’s lack of progress in providing the industry with guidance and clarity on reopening” and arguing the resort has proven it can operate responsibly during the pandemic.
Those who rely on theme parks being open to create content are also advocating for reopening, such as SoCal Attractions 360 and its 1.2 million YouTube subscribers.
We think it’s time to open up theme parks in California. https://t.co/NV0RUb3Mdi
— Attractions 360° (@SoCal360) September 14, 2020
While COVID-19 cases have dropped around Orange County following the state’s summer surge, areas around the Disneyland Resort and Knott’s Berry Farm still have more than double the county’s 3.9 percent positivity rate, according to Voice of OC.
No COVID-19 outbreaks have been publicly tied to theme parks reopening elsewhere. Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at UC Irvine, told The Los Angeles Times that it’s difficult to confirm transmission when park guests aren’t locals.
“There are just too many unknowns to be fully confident about reopening,” he told The Times.
For Newsom’s part, his public answer hasn’t changed much despite the repeated questions on theme parks.
“We will be making announcements soon as it relates to theme parks and amusement parks. I am not here today to make that presentation, but want folks to know we are actively working in a number of sectors,” Newsom said on Thursday.
SeaWorld San Diego keeping Halloween and Christmas events
Despite not being allowed to fully reopen, SeaWorld San Diego announced plans to hold its Halloween and Christmas events.
The San Diego edition of Halloween Spooktacular will start on Friday, Oct. 2, featuring activities like a trick-or-treat trail, cookie decoration and a pumpkin scavenger hunt, along with seasonal food options — all with face masks and physical distancing required. The event will run Fridays through Sundays through Nov. 1.
In November, Christmas Celebration will return to the park, though the SeaWorld press release did not provide details on the Christmas offerings. Annual passes will receive unlimited admissions to both events, though advance reservations will be required.
“We are so excited about today’s announcements. As a parent and grandparent, I know how important it is to have activities planned for kids around the holidays that are both fun and safe,” said Marilyn Hannes, park president of SeaWorld San Diego.
1,136 workers laid off at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to another set of layoffs at a theme park hotel in Central Florida.
This time, the affected properties are the Swan and Dolphin at Walt Disney World, which is part of hotel giant Marriott International. In a notice to the state of Florida, the resorts disclosed that 1,136 workers would be let go, effective Nov. 13.
“A careful review of business forecasts shows that challenging business conditions, including historically low hotel occupancy and mounting event cancellations, will extend in 2021,” wrote Donna Stanton, market director of human resources at the Swan and Dolphin.
The Swan had been temporarily made up for the lack of tourist business by housing Major League Soccer players and personnel during the league’s tournament at the nearby ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The tournament wrapped on Aug. 11 and discount rates for the hotel are now as low as $115 for November stays through Priceline.
More Theme Park News:
Petition seeks memorial for theme park construction worker at Busch Gardens’ Iron Gwazi
Ranking Disneyland’s roller coasters from worst to best
Universal Orlando denies rumor that its theme parks will close two days a week