Disneyland theme parks will reopen with limited capacity by late April after a nearly year-long closure under California's coronavirus pandemic rules, the company's CEO said Tuesday.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek made the announcement at Tuesday's Annual Shareholder Meeting. He said Disney is planning for a late April reopening of both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure.
Disneyland California Adventure in Anaheim has been partially open, and a new event called "A Touch of Disney" debuts March 18. The location transformed into a large-scale vaccination site in Orange County's fight against the virus.
"Here in California, we're encouraged by the positive trends we're seeing and we're hopeful they'll continue to improve and we'll be able to reopen our parks to guests with limited capacity by late April -- we look forward to publicizing an opening date in the coming weeks,'' Chapek said.
Disneyland closed in late March 2020 as the pandemic intensified in California and throughout the U.S.
Local news from across Southern California
California cleared a path last week for a return to Disneyland nearly a year after coronavirus restrictions shuttered major entertainment spots. The state on Friday relaxed guidelines for reopening outdoor venues as a fall and winter surge seemed to be ending, with COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths plummeting and vaccination rates rising.
New public health rules would allow live concerts at stadiums and sports arenas to reopen with limited attendance April 1. Amusement parks also will be permitted to reopen in counties that have fallen from the state’s purple tier — the most restrictive — to the red tier.
In all cases, park capacities will be limited, and COVID-19 safety rules such as mask-wearing requirements will apply.
Chapek said a late April opening allows for the recall of more than 10,000 furloughed cast (employees) and retraining them in accordance with the state of California's new requirements.
"I am pleased to say the response has been great thus far, our cast members are excited to get back to work,'' Chapek said. ``And this is also good news for the Anaheim community, which depends on Disneyland for jobs and business generated by visitors.''
The move followed a week of milestones, with California ramping up vaccinations for the poorest neighborhoods, counties reopening more businesses and Gov. Gavin Newsom passing a measure aimed at encouraging schools that have restricted students to online learning to reopen classrooms this month.
Applauding the move were the thousands of workers who were laid off by Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm and other big locations. Ten thousand lost their jobs alone at Disneyland and its related attractions in Orange County, not to mention the knock-on effect to nearby restaurants and hotels.
Most of the major theme parks are in Southern California, which is still in the purple category. However, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties were expecting to reopen within the next few weeks as their COVID-19 numbers fall.
Only 16 of 58 counties currently are in the red tier, and two small counties are in the orange tier. None are yet in the yellow tier, the lowest and least restrictive.
Theme parks in the red tier will be limited to 15% capacity.
Outdoor sports will be limited to 100 people in the purple tier but will increase up to 67% in the yellow tier.