For the California residents who have been eager to return to Disneyland in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, the Happiest Place on Earth will soon be able to reopen its gates and let them back inside.
After a year of closures and a lengthy stalemate regarding the immediate future of the parks, the California health department has issued updated guidelines indicating that Disneyland, Universal, and other California-based theme parks will be able to open back up on April 1, 2021. But only California residents will be able to attend…for the time being, anyway.
According to the Orange County Register, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s “Blueprint Refresh” plan “allows Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California and other California theme parks to reopen as early as April 1 once the counties they are located in reach the red/substantial tier 2 risk status.” The parks will be able to open at 15% capacity to start, will only be open to California residents, and capacity levels will shift as the counties move into different tiers. Capacity limits will reportedly be placed on indoor rides and attractions.
After being closed for many months due to the pandemic, Disneyland was all set to reopen in time for the park’s big 65th anniversary celebration in the middle of last July. But just two weeks after that initial announcement was made, the park leadership changed its mind and said that the Disneyland reopening would be delayed indefinitely in light of the skyrocketing number of coronavirus cases in California and beyond.
Despite a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California at the time, the Downtown Disney shopping area reopened on July 9. A few days later, on July 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a shutdown order for indoor operations throughout the state, including restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums, and bars. While Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles reopened long ago and several parks have slowly begun opening their doors for limited capacity special events (often food-related), Universal Studios Hollywood theme park has been closed for a year as well. A warning on their website still reads, “Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit.”
On the other side of the country, Florida’s Walt Disney World reopened its gates on July 15, 2020, and Universal Studios Orlando reopened on June 4, 2020.
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