Online petition calls for Disneyland to reopen later than planned July 17 date, citing coronavirus concerns

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Disney characters are seen in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland in a photo released by Disney on Jan. 7, 2020.

Disney characters are seen in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland in a photo released by Disney on Jan. 7, 2020.

Thousands of people have signed an online petition seeking to keep the coronavirus-related closure of Disneyland in place after the theme park announced plans to reopen in mid-July.

The change.org petition asks the Disneyland Resort to reconsider its proposed July 17 date, expressing concern over the recent rise in COVID-19 cases as more businesses are allowed to resume operations after being shuttered for months.

“Many people have lost loved ones due to this pandemic and by reopening the parks they are endangering cast members and guests to be exposed to Covid-19,” the petition reads. “Health Officials have stated that the 2nd wave of Covid-19 will be worse. So reopening before the 2nd wave even hits us is irresponsible and greedy. I understand everyone is rejoicing for the reopening of the parks but not during a pandemic where people are DYING, now is not the time.”

The petition had garnered more than 11,500 signatures as of early Thursday afternoon.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have been shut down since mid-March. The Anaheim resort hopes to reopen both on July 17 — Disneyland’s 65th anniversary — but still needs approval from the state and Orange County.

The Downtown Disney District is eyeing a reopening date of July 9, while Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel are aiming for July 23.

Disney on Wednesday unveiled its plan to welcome guests back to the “happiest place on Earth.”

The proposal includes significantly limiting capacity at the theme parks, introducing a reservation system for all guests — annual passport holders included — and enhanced health and safety measures, according to a Disney statement. The company has not yet publicly released details about the new safeguards.

Additionally, popular live attractions that tend to draw large crowds— such as parades and nighttime spectaculars like “World of Color” and “Fantasmic” — will be temporarily placed on hold, resuming at an unspecified date. Character meet-and-greets also won’t return for the time being.

New ticket sales have been placed on pause, as were annual passport renewals.

“We are purposefully taking baby steps during this very intentional phased approach,” Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro wrote in a statement. “As one of the first major theme parks to close our operations and the last to reopen, we have been deliberate about keeping the health and safety of our cast, guests and local communities top of mind.”

But even those changes aren’t enough for some who believe that, ultimately, Disney should delay its opening date until there is a a drop in the number of new daily cases of COVID-19.

People who identified themselves as Disney employees and annual passport holders were among those who signed the petition and expressed concern over the plan.

“An an Annual Passholder I was disappointed to hear they’d be reopening so soon because I am not entirely comfortable going back yet due to the virus, but I don’t want to cancel my AP!” wrote one woman, who added that she feared for the health and safety of those working at the resort.

And another signee wrote: “I’m a cast member and I don’t want to put my family in danger from the virus. Also it’s still too early to open in a pandemic.”

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