All of the Disney theme parks around the world are open, except for those at Disneyland Resort.
Recently, California’s theme park reopening guidelines were released, but the guidelines only allow large theme parks, like Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, to reopen if the county they are located in reaches the lowest (yellow) of California’s tiers. We’ve been keeping an eye out for any more news from California’s Governor Newsom related to COVID-19 and theme park reopenings. Today, we got an update on more COVID-19 news as it relates to California, an update on the tier status for the county in which Disneyland is located, and more.
Earlier today, Governor Newsom held his weekly press conference and discussed the wildfires situation in California, more COVID-19 updates, and took a few questions from some reporters. Governor Newsom provided an update on the COVID-19 case numbers in California and noted that they are starting to see California’s COVID-19 positivity rate starting to “trend slightly up.” Governor Newsom also noted that new hospitalizations and ICU admissions are starting to moderately increase, but they’re monitoring the situation closely.
During the conference, Dr. Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services, also came out to provide an update regarding the tiers that certain counties are located in. California has been utilizing a tier system that takes into account positivity rates and more to designate a “risk level” for each county.
According to Dr. Ghaly’s update, Orange County — the county that Disneyland is located in — will not be moving tiers yet. Currently, Orange County remains in the Red or “Substantial” tier. According to California’s theme park reopening guidelines, Orange County will need to get down to the Yellow or “Minimal” tier in order for Disneyland to reopen.
After Dr. Ghaly and Governor Newsom gave their updates, they took some questions. One question in particular centered around theme parks reopening. The reporter asking the question specifically noted that “[t]here’s a lot of frustration and anger, especially in Anaheim, with folks who say…’look, Disney parks have opened all over the world and they’re doing okay, why can’t we do this here?’ This isn’t only people that work at the parks, but people who have businesses nearby that are having to shut down, city officials who are losing a lot of tax revenue. What do you say to those folks? Why can’t we do this here?”
Governor Newsom responded by noting that “we’re seeing an increase in the transmission rates of COVID-19 in the vast majority of states in this nation” and increases in case rates around the world. Newsom indicated that when you see increases in COVID-19 numbers, increases in hospitalization rates, and with the winter season approaching where more people will likely be coming back inside and mixing — “Self-evidently we should be concerned about opening up a large theme park where by definition people mix from every conceivable walk of life and put themselves and others at increased risk of seeing transmission rates rise related to COVID-19.”
Newsom also noted, however, that California has a lot of different theme parks — some of which are smaller, others which are basically whole cities, and some that are out on beaches and boardwalks. Newsom said “you have to design and…distinguish…your guidelines in a way that addresses those unique dynamics.” But, he said all of that has to be done with “our eyes wide open on where we are as it relates to this pandemic — the hospitalization numbers here in the state of California, the ICU numbers here in the state of California, now beginning to trend back up,” the holidays approaching, and concerns of another wave of the virus.
But, Newsom also recognized that Disney does things differently. In response to the reporter’s question, which mentioned Disney specifically, he said, “You bring up one particular operator of a theme park that does things very, very differently than other operators of other theme parks.” He also said he understands “as someone with 4 young kids the reverential identity they have with one particular brand that you are identifying and their desire to be entertained, and…the desire of those that rightfully want to get their jobs back and to get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Ultimately, Newsom said, “Forgive me, but we as a state are going to be driven by data and science, and we’re going to be driven by public health first.” Following the release of the guidelines, some indicated that Disneyland may not reopen until summer 2021, and a Disney official has noted that the guidelines will keep Disneyland closed for the “foreseeable future.” For now, the Disneyland Resort theme parks remain closed, and hotel reservations are only available starting mid-November. We’re keeping an eye on this situation and we’ll let you know as we spot any more updates.