A fed up Disneyland is demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom reopen California theme parks now after more than six months of coronavirus closures and a lack of guidance from the state on safely reopening the major tourist destinations.
Disney parks chairman Josh D’Amaro ramped up the pressure on Newsom to let Disneyland reopen during a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from inside the Anaheim theme park.
“We’re ready,” D’Amaro said during the press conference. “It’s time.”
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Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland California and other California theme parks closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An announcement on California theme park reopening guidelines is coming “very, very shortly,” Newsom said.
D’Amaro joins a growing chorus of theme parks, industry associations and city leaders calling on Newsom to reopen California theme parks.
The Disney parks chief pleaded with state and local government officials to give Disneyland and Disney California Adventure clearance to reopen now.
“We need guidelines that are fair and equitable,” said D’Amaro, standing alone in Disneyland after removing his face covering.
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D’Amaro urged government officials to treat theme parks as they have other industries that have successfully reopened amid the pandemic.
“I encourage you to treat theme parks like you would other sectors,” said D’Amaro, chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products division. “Help us reopen.”
Disney California Adventure vice president Patrick Finnegan echoed his boss and called on the state to issue guidelines for safely reopening theme parks.
“We are ready to open and we hope to have guidance from the state soon,” Finnegan said during the press conference.
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Nearly 80,000 regional jobs depend on the Disneyland resort, according to D’Amaro.
“The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact will be for Orange County,” D’Amaro said.
Disney officials pointed to the success in reopening theme parks in Florida, France, Japan and China and offered to assist government officials in crafting COVID-19 health and safety guidelines that would allow California theme parks to do the same.
California theme parks have issued proposed guidelines that are now familiar as part of the “new normal” in the COVID-19 era: Mandatory masks, social distancing, increased sanitization, contactless payments, reduced attraction capacity and employee training.
Theme parks in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and half the states in the U.S. have safely reopened with reduced capacity.
No COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Legoland and Cedar Fair parks in Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia and Michigan, according to state health agencies and theme park officials.