Disney delays Southern California theme park re-openings

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (AP) — Disney is postponing the mid-July re-opening of its Southern California theme parks until it receives guidelines from the state, the company announced.

Disney hoped to re-open Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim on July 17 after a four-month closure due to the coronavirus. But the state has indicated it won’t issue guidelines until after July 4, the company said.

“Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the re-opening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” Disney said in a statement.

The company did not provide a new re-opening date. The parks closed on March 14 and the re-opening requires government approval.

Governor Gavin Newsom “appreciates Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about re-opening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties”, Newsom spokesman Nathan Click said. “The governor, the state and our public health experts continue to be in contact with the company and their workers — as well as other theme parks in the state — as we track and combat the spread of the virus.”

File photo shows visitors taking photos at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. PHOTO: AP

Disney also said it is still negotiating agreements with employee unions, some of which have raised safety concerns about the re-openings. Disney said it signed agreements from 20 union affiliates representing more than 11,000 employees, detailing enhanced safety protocols.

Disney also will delay the planned July 23 re-opening of its Grand Californian and Paradise Pier hotels.

The Downtown Disney District restaurant and shopping area will re-open on July 9 as previously planned “with health and safety protocols in place for our cast members and guests”, Disney said.

Disneyland fans normally can bank on the park being open regardless of what’s going on in the world around it. The park closed only a handful of times in 65 years. The last time was after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

The company indicated it still planned to proceed with re-opening Disney World in Florida on July 11. Disney resorts in Shanghai and Hong Kong already re-opened.

California is seeing a COVID-19 spike, recording a 69 per cent increase in new cases this week.