Disneyland looks to reopen by late April after yearlong closure due to COVID-19 pandemic

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Disneyland is aiming to open by late April following a yearlong closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced Tuesday.

“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,” Chapek said in a statement.

An exact date has not been pinpointed yet, but should be publicized in the coming weeks, he added.

Disneyland, like all other large theme parks in the state, has been shuttered for nearly a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The closure likely would have extended longer had California not relaxed its restrictions for when the sector could welcome back visitors, something the state did just last Friday.

Under the new plan, amusement parks will be eligible to open once more with capacity limits beginning April 1. That’s provided the county they are located in meets the state’s standards of its four-tier, color-coded system guiding sector reopening.

Theme parks can open with 15% capacity when its county gets into the red tier, which is the second most-restrictive phase. In the orange tier, which is less-restrictive, maximum capacity jumps to 25%. In the least-restrictive yellow tier, capacity increases to 35%. The state is also encouraging the parks to limit attendance to California residents only.

Orange County, home to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Knott’s Berry, remains in the most-restrictive purple tier.

However, coronavirus trends are improving and the county could be about a week away from meeting the state’s threshold and moving into the red tier, Orange County officials reported Tuesday. The earliest that could happen, they said, was March 17.

But, as Chapek noted, Disney will still need time to gear up for the reopening of both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, something that will include calling back thousands of furloughed employees and getting them up to speed with the state’s coronavirus rules.

“The fact is it will take some time to get them ready for our guests — this includes recalling more than 10,000 furloughed Cast and retraining them to be able to operate according to the State of California’s new requirements,” Chapek said in the statement. “I am pleased to say the response has been great thus far, our Cast Members are excited to get back to work.”

Disneyland’s reopening will be good news for Anaheim, which at last report had about 15,000 people out of work and an unemployment figure of around 9%, city spokesman Mike Lyster told KTLA last Friday.

The Disneyland Resort remains Anaheim’s largest employer, even with pandemic-related layoffs. At its peak, the resort had about 31,000 employees, according to Lyster.

Once the theme parks can reopen, that will begin what Lyster described as a “ripple effect” in the city. Local hotels will start to bring back workers to accommodate an influx of visitors and restaurants will follow, he said.

That should also impact revenue for the city, which according to Lyster has seen a budget shortfall of $115 million during the public health emergency.

“It begins an economic recovery for Anaheim,” Lyster said. “We will take this gradual reopening. If that’s what it takes to get us to a gradual return to normal, we will take it.”

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