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Disney Calls On Newsom To Let Disneyland Reopen, Explains COVID-19 Safety Plans

Disney is one of the companies that will continue to benefit from low property taxes after Prop 15's defeat. (Disneyland Resort)
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In a video update today from Disney on its approach to reopening its theme parks safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to provide guidelines to allow for the reopening of the still-shuttered Disneyland and California Adventure parks in Anaheim.


Disney Parks, Experiences And Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro said nearly 80,000 Orange County jobs rely on the operation of the parks in Anaheim, making the economic impact steep.

"I encourage you to treat theme parks like you would other sectors, and help us reopen," D'Amaro said. "The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact will be to Orange County and the Anaheim communities, and to the tens of thousands of people who rely on us to reopen."

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D'Amaro called for guidelines that are "fair and equitable" so that they can plan for reopening.

Newsom promised last week that theme park reopening details will be coming soon. Other Disney parks around the world have already opened their doors.

Orange County mayors have also been calling on Newsom to allow Disneyland to reopen, with the local economy taking a major hit. Anaheim officials have reported their budget shortfall is now $100 million.

"We are ready to open, and we are hoping we will have guidance from the state soon," California Adventure & Downtown Disney VP Patrick Finnegan said.

D'Amaro closed his remarks by saying, "As you can see from this discussion today, we're ready. And more importantly, it's time."

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According to officials, the company is using what it's learned about dealing with COVID-19 at its other parks to continue to improve safety measures, helping it to be more prepared for reopening in California. Those measures include:

  • Temperature checks
  • Mandatory face masks
  • Increased sanitation
  • Increased use of virtual queue system
  • Increased use of mobile dining options
  • Expanding contactless payments

Disney's California parks have already installed signage for physical distancing, Plexiglass shields for protection where physical distancing isn't possible, and handwashing/hand-sanitizing stations.
They're also finalizing details of a plan allowing their staff to access COVID-19 testing in their local communities. Finnegan noted that thousands of employees remain furloughed.

California Adventure had been set to open its new Marvel-themed Avengers Campus land this summer, but with the COVID-19 shutdown, that was delayed. Finnegan noted that it will be able to open soon after the park reopens. He also noted that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge had been open for less than a year when the park shut down, and that the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction had only been open for a few months, so many have yet to experience it.

The Downtown Disney shopping district was reopened in July. They have been monitoring attendance to control capacity, Finnegan said, as well as using virtual wait lists. Finnegan noted that Orange County isn't in the most serious of the state's COVID-19 reopening tiers, and that talks between Disney and the governor's office are continuing.

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The prevalence of COVID-19 in Central Florida has gone down since Disney World reopened, Animal Kingdom Vice President Djuan Rivers noted. In Florida, Disney is:

  • Limiting attendance
  • Additional sanitation stations
  • Employees enforcing social distancing
  • Increased frequency of cleaning

A Disney representative noted that the company doesn't publicly share attendance levels, but that they are closely monitoring those levels at parks that have reopened.
Masks are required through most of the Disney World parks when people aren't seated and eating/drinking, though there are also "relaxation" areas where people aren't required to wear masks. The capacity of these areas is limited.

Disney World has cancelled some of its regular entertainment, though they've also created new entertainment options meant to help avoid crowds from gathering.

Disney has designed custom masks for its employees, currently in their third generation of design as they've learned more about effective mask-making.

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