UPDATE: After this post was published, Disney announced that they will be opening up a portion of Disney California Adventure this holiday season. Our original article continues below.
Disneyland isn’t allowed to reopen as a theme park until Orange County reaches the “minimal” tier of Governor Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan. While the criteria for each tier of the plan is finite and easily understood, predicting when a county might enter a lower tier is hard. A perfect COVID-19 scorecard for the county would allow for an early December reopening, but a more realistic assessment of the situation lead one Orange County health official to predict a summer 2021 reopening. With such uncertainty, it’s time for Disneyland to act instead of complain. It’s time for Disneyland to open without attractions.
While Disneyland has made their frustrations about Newsom’s guidelines known at this point, they have an obligation to explore all options as it relates to saving jobs in a devastated industry and economy. If Disneyland remains closed for months, it will unavoidably lead to more layoffs than what was originally announced. When Disney announced that 28,000 Cast Members would be laid off at their theme parks, they did not have guidance about a Disneyland reopening. They were acting on what they knew at the time, and what their best guesses were. As it turns out, the California Governor went against Disneyland “despite our best efforts to advocate for a different outcome”, Disneyland President Ken Potrock said.
Now, facing what the industry is calling the “Keep Theme Parks Closed Indefinitely” Plan, it’s time for Potrock, Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro and others to start working on a solution for their Cast Members and community. Enter, “Taste of Disneyland”.
We think that Disneyland would be able to take the unprecedented step of opening up their front gate to guests without any attractions running. Maybe not the entire park, but enough to get Cast Members back to work, and get some of the gears of the economy turning again. Disneyland’s neighbor Knott’s Berry Farm has run multiple outdoor dining events since July 24, 2020. In a recent video conference, Universal Studios Hollywood President Karen Irwin said that the theme park is exploring the idea of a partial reopening with food and retail offerings. Disneyland should do the same. Again, it could just be Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street at first. Prove a workable park entry system and safe, physically distanced experiences. From there, maybe Disneyland could expand to other lands and experiences that are allowed in the current guidelines for restaurants and shopping experiences.
Currently, Orange County is in the red “substantial” tier on Newsom’s blueprint plans. According to the plans, restaurants are able to operate at 25% capacity or 100 people, clothing stores can operate at 50% capacity, hotels can open with modifications, and more. When Orange County reaches the orange “moderate” tier, those capacity limitations increase.
As we’ve heard time and again, Disneyland is confident in their ability to safely operate their theme parks, so any concerns about COVID-19 should be minimal, at least on Disneyland’s end. With safety concerns minimized, Disney can turn their attention to their next concern – Cast Member jobs. By opening the theme parks for a “Taste of Disneyland” event where guests are able to enjoy shops and dining, Disneyland will be able to get more Cast Members back to work, get the local economy moving, and share the magic and joy of Disneyland again – all listed as goals in a recent email from the Disneyland President to Cast Members.
Perhaps Disneyland has already tipped their hand. In a recent email to Annual Passholders, Disney said that “the efforts to reopen Disneyland Resort will continue as we work to seek solutions to bring our Cast back to work, get our local economy moving and share the magic and joy of our theme parks once again”. Perhaps an announcement from Disneyland on a “Taste of” event that opens up the gates once again in on the horizon. In the meantime, Disney needs to come to grips that the State of California will continue to provide a difficult environment for them to reopen fully, but it is their obligation to reopen what they can and save as many Cast Member jobs as possible.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!