California lawmakers seek to pressure Newsom to speed up reopening of Disneyland, other large theme parks

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Two state lawmakers from Southern California introduced a bill Thursday meant to put pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom to speed up the reopening timeline for the state’s major theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Under Newsom’s current reopening framework, large theme parks aren’t allowed to open until the county they’re located in reaches the least restrictive fourth tier, or yellow tier. But smaller theme parks with a capacity of less than 15,000 can reopen in the third/orange tier.

This new measure, AB 420, calls on the governor to allow large theme parks to reopen alongside the smaller ones in the orange tier, which is one step ahead of the yellow tier, according to a press release from Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva.

The Fullerton Democrat is co-authoring the bill with Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares, a Republican whose Santa Clarita-area district includes Six Flags Magic Mountain.

The parks have been shut down for nearly a year. And is doesn’t appear that will change soon, with the majority of the state — including Los Angeles and Orange counties — still stuck in the most restrictive reopening tier, the purple one.

“Nearly a year after parks closed in response to the pandemic, tens of thousands of employees remain out of work, while local businesses, communities surrounding theme parks, and local governments face ongoing negative consequences,” the California Attractions and Parks Association said in a statement applauding the new legislation.

Even with vaccinations underway — including at Disneyland — it’s unclear when conditions would improve enough for the counties to enter the yellow tier. But with theme parks already open in other states, Quirk-Silva said she believes it can be done safely.

“Our theme parks are experts in this, because it is their business to move people and move them safely,” she said, adding that they would “in no way skirt any health guidelines.”

If passed, the governor could always veto the bill, and it’s unclear whether the legislature could legally alter the governor’s plan even if they had the votes to override his veto. Martinez Valladares said lawmakers are still looking into the specifics.

Either way, the move is meant to send a message to Newsom, and Qurik-Silva hopes it will spur the governor to take action more quickly than the legislature can.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The state Department of Public Health said it does not comment on pending legislation.

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