Theme Parks in California Are Reopening: What to Know About Disneyland, Universal Studios, and More

Theme Parks in California Are Reopening: What to Know About Disneyland, Universal Studios, and More

Theme parks in California have been shuttered for nearly a year amid the pandemic. In Southern California, Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland California and even the theme park that started it all, Knott’s Berry Farm, sat empty with abandoned parking lots, eerily quiet hotels, and boarded up businesses along the Anaheim strip. Some found other uses for all the space—Disneyland, for instance, has been moonlighting as a COVID vaccination site. But in March, an announcement brought hope and a little bit of magic: Theme parks have been cleared to reopen April 1.

In a surprising move, California officials amended the state’s guidelines for amusement parks, stating that parks are now eligible to reopen in April with reduced capacity. But there’s a big stipulation: a SoCal theme park cannot reopen until the county it is in reaches a certain color. California’s economic reopening plan is divided into four colors that represent COVID risk: purple, red, orange, and yellow. Purple denotes the highest infections per 100,000 people and as colors get lighter, the case counts and risks are lower. To reopen come April 1, a theme park would need to be in a county that is at least red, orange, or yellow. Both L.A. County (home to Universal Studios and Six Flags) and Orange County (home to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm) as well as San Diego County (Legoland) are all still purple. But with vaccines rolling out and cases going down, health officials expect these counties to be red by the end of March—and therefore, be able to open in April.

If a theme park is in a red county, the guest capacity is limited to 15 percent. An orange county can increase capacity to 25 percent. A park in a yellow county can increase guest capacity to 35 percent. At this time, only residents will be able to visit theme parks in California. It’s unclear how theme parks will manage and screen for this, as current offerings at Disneyland’s outdoor shopping center Downtown Disney or Universal’s CityWalk don’t have these restrictions.

What to know before visiting Disneyland

On March 17, Disneyland announced that both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure will reopen with reduced capacity on April 30. For now, admission will be restricted to California residents. In a shareholders meeting earlier in March, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek said that April 1 wasn’t realistic for Disneyland because of the necessary training for employees: “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.” These requirements haven’t been announced, and could impact distancing in ride queues and attractions.

When Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure reopen on April 30, theme park tickets and park capacity will be managed via a new online reservation system similar to the park pass reservation system currently in use at Disney World. For admittance, visitors aged three and older will need both a valid ticket and a park pass reservation for a specific day and park. 

Published at Wed, 17 Mar 2021 18:02:00 +0000