Disney announces reopening plans for Disneyland Resort, but is it too soon?

June 12, 2020

 Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland | © Serene Guentz


The Walt Disney Company announced Wednesday its proposed plans for a phased reopening of both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on July 17, just in time for Disneyland’s 65th anniversary.


While there are many fans excited to return to the theme parks, many other fans and cast members have safety concerns about Disneyland’s reopening.


“I’m honestly a little scared of the guests we will be dealing with. The people who want Disney to reopen do not want it for the economy, they want it for themselves,” said a current Disneyland cast member who asked to remain anonymous to protect their job. “How are cast members supposed to create magic when they’re scared about their lives?”


The Disneyland Resort has been closed since March 14, and the Disney hotels have been closed since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic.The four-month closure is the longest Disneyland has been closed and marks the first time in history the parks have had an extended closure.


“We are purposefully taking baby steps during this very intentional phased approach,” said Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman in a statement Wednesday. “While certain aspects of your visit may change, I assure you the quality of our storytelling, magic of our experiences and the caliber of our cast members has not.”


As California begins to move into Stage 3 of its reopening plan, Disney’s proposed reopening begins on July 9 with Downtown Disney District, including the World of Disney store, followed by Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on July 17. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel are set to reopen on July 23.


There is currently no word on the reopening of the Disneyland Hotel other than that it will reopen at a later date.


This proposed reopening plan is subject to state and local government approvals.

In order to comply with physical distancing requirements, theme park capacity will be significantly limited and Disney officials said that park reservations will be required for all guests, including annual passholders. Additionally, the Disneyland Resort is “temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Annual Passport sales and renewals.”


Disneyland’s website says that updates have been made for enhanced health and safety measures to promote physical distancing, cleanliness and reduced contact.


Parades and nighttime spectaculars, which typically attract large gatherings, along with character meet-and-greets will return to the Disneyland Resort at a later date. Disney officials have said that “characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests.”


Despite increased safety measures, many Disney cast members have expressed anxiety and concern over the parks opening so soon, particularly due to the large crowds the Disneyland Resort attracts.


About an hour after Disney announced the proposed plans, a Change.org petition was started, asking Disney to reopen its theme parks at a later date. As of Thursday, nearly 16,000 people have signed the petition.


Cases of COVID-19 in the city of Anaheim continue to increase, with Thursday seeing an increase of 53 cases from the previous day, and health experts believe a second wave of the disease will come in the fall.


“I’m not just against them reopening, I’m hurt, I’m so disappointed,” said Jay, another Disneyland cast member who requested that we don’t use her full name in order to protect her job. “[Cast members who are immunocompromised or live with those who are] don’t get to just ‘choose’ not to go like guests who can choose not to go… There’s no ethical reason to be opening, we all know the reason: it’s money.”


As Disneyland’s reopening date draws closer, The Walt Disney Company will be releasing more information on health and safety measures and operational modifications.


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