California’s New Theme Park Rules Roil Local Officials
State health officials released guidelines last week for the reopening of theme parks. The specifics infuriated Disneyland executives and local officials in Orange County, as it became clear that Disney’s theme parks may remain closed for many more months.
Large parks like Disneyland with over 15,000 visitors can only reopen once a county reaches the least restrictive tier, Tier 4. That’s important because Orange County Health Director Dr. Clayton Chau does not believe the county will reach Tier 4 until at least next summer.
For large parks, capacity must be kept at 25%. Visitors must purchase tickets in advance and wear face coverings except when eating or drinking. Parks with less than 15,000 visitors get the go-ahead at Tier 3, but they can’t service more than 500 visitors at a time and all patrons must live within the county.
“These state guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community,” said Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock.
Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said the plan “fails the working families and small businesses of Anaheim” (Los Angeles Times).
Anaheim has suffered immensely from the closure of the Disney parks and resort. It is facing a projected $100-million deficit in part because of hotel tax revenue losses.
It’s not just Anaheim either. According to researchers at Cal State Fullerton, the Disneyland Resort normally employs 31,000 people (3.6% of Orange County’s workforce) and contributes $8.5 billion annually to the Southern Californian economy.