This week has been a rollercoaster ride of back-and-forth updates between theme parks in California and the government and we now have new details about the state’s theme park guidelines that Disneyland and other theme park companies took objection with.

What’s Happening:

  • The OC Register has shared some new details about the state of California’s theme park guidelines that were shared with operators yesterday.
  • Almost immediately after receiving them, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood asked Governor Gavin Newsom’s office to delay releasing them, urging the government to accept guidance from theme park companies before setting them into law.
  • We now know the extent of the restrictions that would’ve been enacted had the government proceeded as planned.
  • Restrictions for theme parks like Disneyland would’ve included the following:
    • Not being able to reopen until their county is in the fourth and final tier (yellow) of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
    • Operating at 25% of attendance capacity.
    • Limiting visitors to residents that live within a 120-mile radius of the theme park.
  • With most of California’s theme parks in the most populated counties, not allowing them to reopen until the final tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy means that it would likely be a long time before theme parks are allowed to reopen.
  • Comparatively, indoor experiences like movie theaters, museums, and aquariums are able to reopen in the 2nd tier (red) of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy while zoos can open outdoor only experiences in the most severe 1st tier (purple).
  • Under the same guidance that allows zoos and outdoor malls to operate, SeaWorld San Diego and Knott’s Berry Farm have opened elements of their experiences and Disneyland has reopened Downtown Disney.
  • Orange County, home of Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, is still in the 2nd tier (red) category and numbers would have to steadily decline in order for them to open sometime in November at the earliest, which is the best case scenario under this model.
  • In addition, the practice of enforcing the residence of every guest who visits a theme park would be difficult and time consuming for theme park operators with lots of ways around it for visitors who really want to go.
  • As of now, the state does not plan to make any announcements this week and is working with theme park companies like Disney to refine their guidelines.
  • Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, Cedar Fair, and Six Flags all have theme parks in California that have not been able to reopen while their theme parks in other states and countries have been operating for months under health and new safety guidelines without a single reported incidence of spreading the virus.
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