Disneyland; SoCal Theme Parks Given Green Light to Reopen as Early as April 1

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure could reopen as early as April 1, 2021 under new guidelines released Friday by the State of California.

Under the "Blueprint to a Safer Economy," California theme parks may open at a greatly reduced capacity on April 1, provided their home county is in the red (substantial) tier of the state's color-coded system.

Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock responded to the news Friday:

"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."

Orange County, home to the Disneyland Resort, just missed qualifying to move to the red tier this week. Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer said earlier in the week, "I’m pretty optimistic that two weeks from now we’ll be able to enter the red tier."

If the county meets that goal by April 1, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure could reopen at 15% capacity, with masking and other social distancing measures required of all visitors. Once in the red tier, restaurants are also permitted to open their dining rooms at 25% capacity, and retail stores can operate at 50% capacity.

Theme parks could increase attendance to 25% capacity after the county moves into the orange (moderate) tier, and to 35% if the county met the standard to move into the yellow (minimal) tier.

The California Attractions and Parks Association (CAPA) Executive Director Erin Guerrero issued a statement saying:

“Today’s announcement from the Newsom Administration is very encouraging news for California’s amusement parks. Parks now have a framework to safely and responsibly reopen. We appreciate the Administration’s willingness to work with the State’s theme on the finer details of the plan so parks can responsibly reopen soon, putting people safely back to work and reinvigorating local economies.”

The state also announced on Friday that fans can attend outdoor concerts and sporting events starting April 1, with attendance at those events capped at 20% of capacity. That met with approval from Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu, who issued a statement saying, "Everyone should feel comfortable and confident coming back to Anaheim." 

Friday's announcement capped off a week of major changes in the state's COVID-19 response. In the past few days, the state has eased the rules to allow counties to more quickly move into less-restrictive tiers, moved seven Northern California counties from the most-restrictive purple (widespread) into the red tier, and approved all high school sports to be resume competition.

California governor Gavin Newsom also signed a $6.6 billion package aimed at reopening schools, and on Friday celebrated a milestone of 10 million vaccines administered in the state.

The announcement also comes days before the Governor's third State of the State Address to the California Legislature, and amid a growing recall effort which could see him replaced in office.

While Disney has yet to give a hint as to their reopening plans, the possibility of an April 1 reoening does call into question the fate of the Touch of Disney event, currently planned to begin March 18 at Disney California Adventure. Tickets for the limited-time event went on sale on March 4, and sold out in just over eight hours, even with Disney extending initial ticket offering by two weeks through April 19.