California Announces Strict Guidelines For Disneyland, Universal And More Theme Parks To Reopen

California has issued guidelines that will allow Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, and other theme parks in the Golden State to reopen in the age of coronavirus. As has been the case, it all has to do with California's tier system. The announcement today included instructions for how to reopen smaller theme parks and them parks in general tied into the color-coded system. 

Disneyland, along with Disney California Adventure, closed on March 14, 2020 due to the coronavirus. Downtown Disney reopened on July 9, 2020, and at one pint, the plan was to reopen the parks on Disneyland's 65th anniversary on July 17, 2020, back when everyone was assuming and hoping that the virus would be under control by the summer. As we all know now, that didn't happen, and the park's opening was postponed. Since then, Disneyland has been waiting for guidelines from the state on how to reopen. Today, new guidelines were announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. But first, here's a quick breakdown of California's tier system:

Purple, or Tier 1, indicates that the virus is widespread in the county — with more than seven cases per 100,000 residents or more than 8% of tests results reported positive over seven days. Red (Tier 2) indicates "substantial" spread of the virus, while orange (Tier 3) indicates "moderate" spread and yellow (Tier 4) indicates "minimal" spread of the virus in the county.

If one of the two metrics is higher than the other, the state will assign the county to the color associated with the highest rating. For example, if a county reports six cases per 100,000, but a 9% positivity rate, it will be rated purple.

Now, onto the new restrictions there were announced today:

Smaller theme parks may resume operations in Tier 3 (Orange)

  • Limited capacity of 25 percent or 500 which is fewer.
  • May only open outdoor attractions.
  • Ticket sales limited to visitors in same county.
  • All theme parks may resume operations in Tier 4 (Yellow)

  • Limited capacity of 25 percent.
  • All theme parks

  • Implement a reservation system and screen guests for symptoms in advance.
  • Face coverings mandatory throughout the park unless eating or drinking.
  • Professional sporting events and outdoor stadiums

  • May resume in Tier 3 at 20% and in Tier 4 at 25%.
  • Ticket sales restricted to customers within 120 miles radius.
  • Advance ticket sales and assigned seats (no day of or will-call ticket sales).
  • Eating and drinking in assigned seats only.
  • Face coverings are mandatory throughout the stadium unless eating or drinking
  • Tailgating prohibited however parking at the stadium is required.
  • In other words, big parks like Disneyland and Universal can't reopen until they get to Tier 4 – which seems like it's all but impossible at this point. Smaller parks will have better luck here, but for now, it looks like Disneyland and Univeral won't be reopening anytime soon.

    This news comes on the heels of the announcement that The Walt Disney Company would be issuing a new wave of layoffs affecting approximately 28,000 cast members in the Parks, Experiences, and Products sectors of the company. The layoffs are unquestionably difficult news, but as Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis, told The Los Angeles Times, California Governor Gavin Newsom and his staff are "confronting an extremely difficult calculus in determining the size and pace of reopenings."

    "The virus hasn't changed," Pollock added. "When you have people who can gather physically closer together, you increase the risk. Is it worth it?" The new theme park reopening plans were issued by the California Department of Public Health.

    Following today's announcement, Disney released this statement.