Theme Park Execs Blast California’s Reopening Plan
Yesterday, the state of California finally released the long-anticipated theme park reopening plan and it was met with more anger than relief from local theme parks. As a piece in Variety points out, Disneyland President Ken Potrock and other theme park executives in the state are blasting Governor Gavin Newsom over strict reopening rules that may see the theme parks closed throughout the remainder of 2020.
Potrock said, “We believe that we’ve proven that we can responsibly reopen.” He continued, “We continue to prove all over the world that we have reliable protocols that protect the safety of our guests.” However, the State of California is still moving forward with an abundance of caution.
California’s director of health and human services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced on Tuesday that large California theme parks will NOT be able to open until their counties hit the governor’s yellow tier which means new cases are under 1 per 100,000 and positive tests for COVID-19 is under 2%. Even then the theme parks are only permitted to open at 25% capacity.
To put that in perspective, as of going to print only nine of the 58 counties in the state of California are in the yellow tier. Most of these are also more rural counties. Orange County which is home to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm currently sits at the highest level (which is purple) where the virus is still considered widespread.
Potrock spoke out against the decision saying that the Governor is ignoring the impact the closure is having on joblessness in Orange County. He added, “There has to be a much greater back-and-forth dialogue. The goal line keeps moving.”
The Disneyland President continued saying “We’re not getting a solution-oriented discussion.” Potrock added, “We’re getting: Here’s the rules and you have to live with it.”
In recent weeks Disney has become increasingly vocal about the lack of cooperation from the governor regarding reopening plans. Bob Iger recently stepped down from Governor Newsom’s economic recovery task force in frustration over reopening plans. Also Disney Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that the company would be cutting 28,000 jobs at the domestic theme parks sighting Disneyland’s long closure as one of the main culprits.
The press conference was organized through the California Attractions and Parks Association. Other executives present included Karen Irwin, president and COO, Universal Studios Hollywood; Kurt Stocks, president, of Legoland California Resort; and Raffi Kaprelyan, regional vice president, of Cedar Fair, operators of Knott’s Berry Farm, California’s Great America, and Gilroy Gardens.
Irwin also spoke at the event saying that under the current regulations it would not be possible for Universal Studios Hollywood to open before 2021. Her argument was that large theme parks should be allowed to open when the county moves into the orange tier rather than wait until yellow. This would mean a rate of 2% – 4.9% growth in new daily cases or 1 to 3.9 per 100,000.
Kurt Stocks from Legoland argued that this policy change would be more consistent for those of zoos, museums and aquariums. He added, We want the administration to treat us the same as industries of a similar nature,” he added.
This is a story that we’ll continue to follow closely here at MickeyBlog. Readers are encouraged to keep following along with us for further news and updates.
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