Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom held a news conference to provide an update on the state’s outlook in the midst of the global pandemic. During his updates, he commented briefly on the active work being done to create theme park reopening guidelines. This has been a sticking point for places like the Disneyland Resort, which has yet to announce a reopening date after seven months of closures.
Last week, the Governor spoke about how he was in no “hurry” to provide theme park reopening guidelines, hinting that there needed to be a stronger emphasis on a “health-first framework.” While there did not seem to be any added urgency today, Governor Newsom stressed that there is active work being done to further collaborate with the theme park industry.
Not only did Governor Newsom highlight the active conversations taking place between the state and the theme park industry, but he revealed that he has teams that were sent out to visit various theme parks in California as well as across the country to get first-hand experiences to bring back and implement in the guidelines.
During his closing remarks before taking reporter questions, Governor Newsom noted that “This week… we’ll be visiting with some of the larger theme parks, continuing those conversations back and forth.”
He continued on to say, “We continue in good faith to try to work to get where I know everybody wants to go, and that’s to get people back to work and to create more entertainment options, but we need to do so in a safe way, we need to do so with a health-first frame, and we’re going to continue that hard work and a lot of that work will be advanced even further later this week with some inside visits and some deeper collaboration even beyond some of the larger theme parks, but many of the smaller theme parks that want to maintain some distinction from those larger well-known brands here in the state.”
Several reporters had follow-up questions to Newsom’s remarks regarding theme parks. One reporter asked, “This isn’t all happening in a vacuum, and I’m wondering what you’re learning from other states, say, Disney World is open. Are they having a big outbreak in Florida? What does that teach us about whats happening potentially here in California? … What are we learning from what other states are doing?”
Governor Newsom responded, “I have a whole team that spends their time not only getting the answer to that question, but asking those same questions. So this week, as a proof point of that, we have supported an effort to actually find out directly by sending our own team to these sites, as it relates to theme parks, to get a better sense of what’s going on. While we absolutely take people’s word for information that they provide us, we want to see things for ourselves.”
Brady MacDonald, theme park reporter for Orange County register, asked “Do you envision separating smaller theme parks from larger theme parks in the upcoming guidance? And second, what will your administration be looking at during their trips to examine the reopening of Disney World and other Florida theme parks?”
Governor Newsom replied that we would be looking at “Their own experience, their own insight.” He noted that “We’re trying to get a better handle on what we’re being told, what we’re reading about, and our own concerns and our own environment as it relates to what makes our theme parks distinctive and unique, and one of the things that’s self-evident that makes them distinct and unique is location in and around areas where there is background transmission rates that are remaining very relatively stable in some cases, stubborn in other cases.”
Newsom continued on to say that “the answer to your previous question is yes, I’m very mindful, for example, if you have in a park, in a city, a ferris wheel, that’s not a“theme park” in the sense that so many of us consider. And so one has to distinguish between the two, and so that’s a nuance here.”
Newsom further stressed the distinctiveness between large and small theme parks. He stressed that “you’re putting an entire new set of guidelines and starting from scratch across the board. There’s conference facilities, there’s parades in these theme parks, they’re cities, they’re small cities. And there are people from all around the world that descend, not just people that are approximate to these theme parks that come together and mix. You can say 5% at a theme park, that’s thousands and thousands of people at a large theme park; if you say that at something on a pier in a smaller community, that’s a few hundred.”
His final remarks specifically regarding theme parks was, “So all of this has to be considered, all of that is distinctive, all of that requires nuance. So we’re going back and forth, we’ve had guidelines, we put out drafts, we got a lot of feedback on those drafts guidelines, folks asked us for more time, they asked us for more deliberation and engagement, and we’re doing just that.”
He continued, “We’re seeking to understand ourselves directly without the intermediaries, and that was the frame that I was focusing on, that we’re doing our own stubborn research and going across states to learn more and not just making this an academic exercise, I want folks to come back and tell me what they saw, what they’re own experience was. Because this is serious.”
We will continue to closely monitor news coming out of the Disneyland Resort and the state of California as we wait for theme park reopening guidelines to be completed.
Click here to read Disney’s response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s remarks regarding the reopening of theme parks in California.
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How soon will you visit Disneyland after it reopens? Let us know in the comments!