Disneyland reopening

The happiest place on earth will keep its gates shut a little longer. Or maybe a lot longer. Because the reopening of the Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California has been delayed indefinitely. The news was announced on Wednesday evening and follows widespread reports of skyrocketing coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in California and beyond. The decision was made by the Disney company itself following pushback from its employees and their unions, who feared for their safety if they were to return to work in the middle of a pandemic.

As we have previously reported, Disneyland was set to reopen on July 17 with strenuous new safety measures in place, including exhaustive cleaning procedures, social distancing, limited crowd capacity, and the requirement that all guests and park team members wear masks. Disney’s official statement on the matter notes that the company decided to wait until the California state government issued additional guidelines, which will not be made available until after the July 4th holiday.

The statement does not suggest a new window for reopening, but implies that one could be announced within the coming weeks:

“California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4 […] Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date.”

The Downtown Disney shopping district, located next to the theme parks, is still scheduled to reopen on July 9.

While many Disney cast members (the company’s name for their employees) have expressed a desire to return to work, the rumblings on social media and beyond have been impossible to ignore. With the COVID-19 pandemic not going anywhere anytime soon and infections rates steadily increasing (largely due to various state economies opening faster than necessary without proper safety guidelines), various unions representing Disney employees have spoken out and others have made their fears known on social media and via petitions.

The office of California state governor Gavin Newsom supported the delay, releasing the following statement:

“The governor appreciates Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about reopening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties,” spokesman Nathan Click said in a statement. “The state and our public health experts continue to be in contact with the company and their workers — as well as other theme parks in the state — as we track and combat the spread of the virus.”

This is very much a case where two things can be true: we desperately want the world to get back to normal and that includes theme park fans who miss being able to visit their beloved park – and we can also accept that rushing to return to normalcy is only going to make things much worse in the long run.

Meanwhile, Florida’s Walt Disney World, located in right in the middle of the next potential epicenter of the pandemic, is still scheduled to reopen next month.

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