By Erik Galicia
The happiest place on Earth is not likely to fully reopen any time soon.
State guidance on reopening theme parks issued Oct. 20 allows small parks to reopen at 25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer, as long as the parks’ respective counties are in the tier of moderate COVID-19 transmission risk. But larger parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood will not be able to reopen until their respective counties reach the state’s least restrictive tier. That could take several more months.
Downtown Disney and its many shops have begun a phased reopening, though, with COVID-19 safety practices in place. The theme park plans to open up more shopping and dining in November.
Eddie and Brandi Molina, a married couple from Houston, Texas, visited Downtown Disney on Oct. 17. Brandi Molina, 30, had not been there since her high school grad night in 2009.
“It’s so sad,” she said about the theme park’s shutdown. “I grew up on Disney.”
The two said they visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida recently. After experiencing what they called high cleanliness and customer service standards in Orlando, the couple argued the Anaheim location could likely reopen safely.
“It is what you make of it,” Eddie Molina, 30, said. “Go in with an open mind, wear a mask, get your temperature checked. It’s still fun.”
Isollina Correa, 56, of Anaheim, agreed.
“Disneyland is very thorough and very strict,” she said. “You know every time someone gets off a ride, they are going to sanitize it.”
Correa, a Disneyland employee, said she understands that COVID-19 safety is necessary, but questioned why some places, such as bars, were allowed to open while others were not. The closure affects not only the park itself, but all the restaurants and hotels in the surrounding area, she argued.
A rally pushing for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom broke out at Disneyland’s main entrance Oct. 17. Attendees argued the governor is strangling the economy and putting people out of work.
Disneyland announced Sept. 29 that it would be laying off 28,000 workers at its Anaheim and Orlando locations. Disney parks boss Josh D’Amaro has said the difficult decision came as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Eddie Molina, a construction worker, sympathized with the affected workers.
“I’m thankful my industry is considered essential,” he said. “I’m really sorry for all the people whose livelihoods depend on Disney. COVID-19 is not going away. We have to be safe but we can’t just live in fear.”