Why California Theme Parks Pushed Back Against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Reopening Plan
If you’ve been following along with MickeyBlog over the past week then you know that this has been a time of BIG news when it comes to a (lack of) reopening plans for Disneyland theme park. Just over the past week, Disney announced that they will be cutting 28,000 jobs from domestic theme parks and cited one of the reasons as the lack of momentum when it came to reopening Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Then, the Governor’s office promised a reopening plan by the end of the week which was immediately followed by news that Disney Chairman Bob Iger was stepping down from the Governor’s economic task force. As a result, the Governor’s office quickly announced that they would be postponing the release of the reopening plans.
So what happened!? A post in the Orange County Register may shed some light on this.
According to the piece, draft guidelines reviewed by theme park operators actually prompted Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and their counterparts to ask Newsom’s team to postpone releasing the reopening plan until modifications could be made. California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly had this to say about the current state of reopening plans, “Given the size and operational complexities of these unique sectors, we are seeking additional input from health, workforce and business stakeholders to finalize this important framework — all leading with science and safety.“
On the one hand, this is good news as it means the Governor’s office is somewhat receptive to the additional requests that the theme parks are making regarding reopening plans, on the other hand it is dragging theme parks into a more lengthy shutdown. Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm etc, have already been left hanging for months while the Governor opened other segments of the economy.
So what major points of the reopening plans were companies like Disney objecting to? OC Register has some insights. The reopening plan apparently including the following stipulations:
- Individual theme parks can reopen only once their county reaches the least-restrictive “minimal” risk level
- Operate at 25% of attendance capacity
- Limit visitors to residents living within a 120-mile radius of each theme park
If this is indeed the case, this could prove problematic for the theme parks. First, placing the theme parks in the final stage for the “Safer Economy” plans means guidelines will not change until the pandemic ends. Reaching the most restrictive “minimal” tier in the plan could prove almost insurmountable for the theme parks especially since they are in some of the State’s most heavily populated counties. All, in all, this points to the theme parks continuing to remain closed into the foreseeable future.
As the OC Register points out, under the guidelines that were intended to be released last Friday, theme parks located where there are still a substantial number of COVID-19 cases may not be able to reopen for at least 6 weeks if not more. And mind you, this is dependant on the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to be on the decline with an increase in cases hitting the reset button on potential reopening plans.
The current guidelines make reopening uncertain and perhaps even unobtainable for the theme parks going into next year. Without a firm reopening date, the parks aren’t able to continue to employ their staff and the lengthy closure is also having an impact on segments like training, ride testing and reservation plans.
So the cause of Bob Iger’s walk-out could be down to the fact that the “NEW” roadmap for reopening the parks means an extended closure for the theme parks with reopening dates becoming more and more of an uncertainty. This is a story that we’ll continue to follow closely here at MickeyBlog, keep following along with us for further news and updates.
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Source: Orange County Register