Disney’s not smiling about theme park reopening rules

State’s reopening guidelines rankles operators and could mean Disneyland remains closed till next summer

Large facilities like Disneyland may remain closed until next summer
Large facilities like Disneyland may remain closed until next summer

California officials this week released Covid protocols for opening and operating theme parks. Those updated rules are not going over well with businesses, including Disney.

The guidelines require large theme parks — with capacities for 15,000 guests or more — to wait longer to open than smaller parks, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Those large venues will have to wait until their county has reached Tier 4 in the state’s reopening plan, the highest level. Smaller parks can open when their county reaches Tier 3.

Based on projections by Orange County officials, Disneyland may not open until summer 2021, according to the Times.

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Businesses have taken issue with other state and local guidelines surrounding reopening plans. Mall operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield sued Los Angeles County in late September for keeping malls closed, alleging the county lacked “a single valid, science, or health-based reason” for doing so. Days later, the county said it would be reopening malls.

Meanwhile, when large and small theme parks do reopen, they will be limited to 25 percent capacity and must sell tickets in advance. They must require guests to wear face coverings at all times except for when they are eating and drinking. Small parks can only accept visitors from within the county, and can only operate outdoor attractions.

Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock criticized the plan, saying Disneyland has “proven that we can responsibly reopen,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“The State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses,” he said.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure lost 10.2 million visitors in the four months after first shuttering this year. [LAT, WSJ] — Dennis Lynch 

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