California Theme Parks May Start Reopening as Early as April 1 [Corrected]

A man takes a photo on the first day of the closure of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks on March 14, 2020.
A man takes a photo on the first day of the closure of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks on March 14, 2020.
Photo: David McNew/AFP (Getty Images)

As we approach the one-year mark for the covid-related shutdowns of Disneyland and other California amusement parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood, there’s finally an update on what was often a very contentious situation: re-opening will begin April 1, with new safety guidelines in place.

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This news comes courtesy of Disney hometown paper the OC Register, which notes that “the new California theme park guidelines and opening date are part of a ‘refresh’ of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” and adds that the theme parks may only re-open “once the counties they are located in reach the red/substantial tier two risk status,” per the guidelines set forth by the state. As of today, most of the counties where the big parks are located are still in the more restrictive purple tier, though that’s expected to shift as early as next week, making April 1 a reasonable target date. Presumably, re-opening the parks will also spell an end to Disneyland’s recent gig as a mass vaccination site, though there’s no confirmation of that specifically.

But don’t start planning that California-tastic Disney vacation you’ve been pining for, especially if you aren’t local. The paper reports that “theme park attendance will be limited to California residents,” among other new guidelines like capacity limits for rides and attractions that are situated indoors. Fret not, non-Californians who’re somehow ready to plunge back into an amusement park situation despite the ongoing pandemic—there’s always Disney World.

Correction, March 5, 6:33pm ET:

The original headline to this post noted that Disneyland will open April 1; that has been adjusted. io9 regrets the error.

Disneyland sent io9 this statement from Ken Potrock, President, Disneyland Resort: “We are encouraged that theme parks now have a path toward reopening this spring, getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community. With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”

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DISCUSSION

Yesterday the southern California news was remarking that state and county governments might “find workarounds” to let local baseball stadiums have fans in April, so with the lobbying power of amusement parks it only makes sense that Disneyland would also be included in this hasty push to normality.

Good luck to everyone who works at Disneyland; I hope your employer is not introducing unnecessary risk into your lives.