Here's Why Disneyland Should Be Allowed to Reopen Now

August 31, 2020, 6:57 PM · California's governor has been meeting with leaders from Disney, Universal and other companies that operate theme parks in the state, to talk about reopening this important part of the state's ailing tourism industry.

The state's theme parks have been closed since mid-March, as Covid-19 has infected more than 700,000 people in California, claiming nearly 13,000 lives. Amusements such as spending the day at Disneyland might seem incongruent with this pandemic, but there's a simple reason why California should roll back its order keeping the parks closed.

They can operate safely.

Just look to Florida, where Universal Orlando has been opened since early June and the Walt Disney World theme parks have been welcoming guests since the middle of last month. The state of Florida has yet to trace a single outbreak of Covid-19 cases to exposures within those parks. The consumer safety procedures that Disney, Universal, and other theme parks have implemented might be the best in the entire U.S. economy. Everyone wears masks. No one with a fever is allowed to enter the premises. Clear plastic barriers and safe physical distancing keep parties apart. Frequent, enforced sanitation helps keep everyone safe.

If I have to go outside my home for any reason right now, I would want to do so under the same protections that the Florida theme parks have been enforcing for their visitors and employees. They are working and they would be the same protections that Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld would offer their visitors in California, as well.

So why not reopen the parks and help get thousands of cast members, team members, ambassadors, and model citizens off of California's strained unemployment rolls? Unlike in Florida, California has been paying unemployed workers in the state, but that relief has all but broken the state's budget. Saving money is no excuse for putting lives at risk, but reopening the parks will not do the second. For the state budget, though, a return absolutely will help with the first.

People cannot stay trapped in their homes forever. We need to get out. And better that we get out to destinations that have proven that they adopt and enforce appropriate safety procedures, such as these major theme parks. Leave the bars and movie theaters and sports stadia and indoor restaurants closed. But don't lump in theme parks with those businesses.

Especially since so much of what theme park offer happens inside outside. (*That's what I get for writing two posts at once!) The evidence is growing overwhelming that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread through the air, and that it infects people far more often in indoor environments than outside. Knott's Berry Farm has been safely welcoming guests to its outdoor food festivals this month. SeaWorld San Diego returned this weekend with outdoor dining and animal exhibits.

There's no substantial risk in adding outdoor rides to that mix, especially with the physical distancing and sanitation procedures already established in Florida. Allowing that would permit theme parks such as SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, Knott's Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain to reopen with nearly all of their line-ups. So what is the public health rationale for continuing to keep them closed?

If the state wants to continue to restrict indoor activities — as it should — parks' experience in Florida and elsewhere provides plenty of guidance on how to do that. Keep seats empty for indoor shows and rides and don't allow people to remove their masks. (No munching popcorn or slurping drinks in these theaters.) Go ahead and keep indoor dining closed, if you must. But don't keep everything else in theme parks that can operate safely shut, too.

This pandemic has not ended. Not even close. Infection and death rates continue to be appalling. More must be done to contain and eradicate this virus. But closing Disneyland and other theme parks in the state is not advancing that cause. Experience elsewhere has shown that they can operate safely, so the state of California ought to allow them to do so.

Now keep reading while I take the opposite view and argue Here's Why Disneyland Should Not Reopen Yet.

Replies (26)

August 31, 2020 at 7:28 PM

EVERYTHING should open, not just theme parks.

August 31, 2020 at 7:42 PM

Forget Biden Vs. Trump, the real best debate this year is Robert Vs. Robert. Great points from both side! I find myself extremely confused...

August 31, 2020 at 8:02 PM

Very good Jonfinch. I was thinking the same thing.

As a AP holder, if the entire park is not open or I cannot enter because reservations are restricted. The value of my AP is severely reduced.

August 31, 2020 at 9:26 PM

“Especially since so much of what theme park offer happens inside.“

Based on the following argument I think you mean outside here, not inside.

September 1, 2020 at 12:13 AM

I like how I was ready to argue a few points then saw the flip side article where you did all that already. Nice job, letting both sides see the other's view and how there is no easy solution to this.

September 1, 2020 at 1:56 AM

There is zero reasonable justification for keeping theme parks closed at the red phase or beyond, at least based on what is currently known about COVID, park operations, and California's reopening strategy. Right now, the riskiest parts of the experience are already allowed to operate, so go ahead and open the rest. As nonessential as they may have seemed, I would argue they and other outdoor recreational activities are essential to recovery despite the minimal increase of risk presented by them. Not only will they stimulate the economy by bringing in tons of revenue and putting thousands back to work, they will improve the mental health of the population by providing a safe and enjoyable way to escape the residential prisons many have been confined to for the majority of the year. Unlike some parts of the country, the fact that Knott's can sell out an event with a couple dozen food stands and no rides shows that there is massive demand for this type of activity to return. There is no evidence of viral spread due to a visit to any theme park anywhere in the world, and unless they can be shown to spread at a rate higher than essential businesses, you could make a case for denial of their operation qualifying as cruel and unusual punishment to owners, employees, and patrons alike.

September 1, 2020 at 9:15 AM

At this point Florida most likely has a quarter of its population with COVID antibodies based on 10x’s of those reported. That means less spreading and reduced risk, however it also means those with underlying issues still must be careful (and others supportive of them with masks and distancing ) thus rate your own risk and react accordingly. Cali parks should be ready to open following the Florida model and should be even safer than what Florida was in July.

September 1, 2020 at 10:32 AM

An aside about Florida Unemployment- DEO DEO Connect system is awful but really need to stop pretending the thousands of us still furloughed haven't received benefits- majority have and those who haven't likely not qualified due to not having paid enough into the system prior 18 months- and even those should qualify for Federal Pandemic assistance. Meanwhile, Disney has tens of thousands of furloughed full-timers not returned because their statused locations did not reopen and only communications we get regularly from Mouseschwitz is usually about Diversity while we all keep checking with HR to see if any progress on temporary transfers.

September 1, 2020 at 11:23 AM

Is there a large corporation that practices the " Us vs them" culture more than Disney? Disney was never known as treating the average theme park employee well going back to Disneyland's early days. I believe they were unionized from almost Day 1.

The sheer greed by Disney's last 2 CEO's is astonishing and the gold standard for corporate greed in American business. They eliminated the middle class being able to enjoy the Disney experience by continual raising of ticket prices. Walt would be appalled.

September 1, 2020 at 11:27 AM

I'm all for the parks reopening here in CA. I have friends who are nurses and I've looked at the numbers. The number of deaths are actually not any greater than our typical flu season each year. Can't always believe what msm feeds us; fear usually.
when My friends in the medical field are willing to go to a theme park, especially with the safety measures that are being implemented, then I don't feel like I should be worried either.

September 1, 2020 at 12:44 PM

I went to the Taste of Knott's, they scan you and ask questions about your risk. That's more than Walmart does, there is no screening at Walmart, so you are potentially shopping along with Covid carriers. Knott's has employees walking around to tell you to keep your mask on, if you're not wearing it. Also Knott's limits the ticket sales, so the park is not crowded, although there can be lines (socially distanced). And they have people cleaning tables constantly. So I feel a theme park can greatly control the safety measures, especially compared to the local INDOOR Walmart or grocery store. Being out in the open air is safe, having masks on is a double layer of prevention, theme parks should reopen.

September 1, 2020 at 1:53 PM

I appreciate you playing both sides of the coin, Robert, but this article is irresponsible. I could also make a similar, seemingly cogent article in favor of burning coal, or not vaccinating your kids, but just because you can make an argument doesn't mean you should.

You know as well as I that America is in this murderous trap because of the disinformation and lies told by our current administration, and that THOUSANDS of Americans have DIED NEEDLESSLY because of those lies. We cannot safely open most businesses now because those lies have kept our infection rate at a global high, and our death rate with it. To advocate AGAINST a reasonable response to a pandemic, even in the name of honoring "both sides," is grossly irresponsible.

The obvious irony is that by pushing to open now, you extend the closure. People wanted to open in May, partied their butts off, and now schools can't open. By refusing to do what literally every other reasonable country has done, America's pandemic quarantine will stretch well into 2021. People want their cake and to eat it too, and by humoring their illogical, scientifically FALSE talking points, you prolong the suffering.

You write: "This pandemic has not ended. Not even close. Infection and death rates continue to be appalling." Each of those sentences should have been followed by IN AMERICA, because in a great many places, those statements are false. Many developed countries did what they needed to do, and now they can safely open things again. But we can't, because we DIDN'T, and thanks to articles like these, still WON'T.

The people who agree with this irresponsible article are the reason our country will remain in a BOX throughout the winter, and it's going to be far, far worse than it's been up until now. Abhorrent.

September 1, 2020 at 2:03 PM

Look at one person posted in agreement with this article:

"The number of deaths are actually not any greater than our typical flu season each year. Can't always believe what msm feeds us . . ."

This is absolutely 150% demonstrably false, but because this sad individual has swallowed the lies being told to her, she will now act irresponsibly and only further the suffering. Still others are insisting we're approaching herd immunity, or that somehow the virus has gotten less lethal, both of which are DEMONSTRABLY FALSE.

Experts predict as many as another HUNDRED THOUSAND AMERICANS WILL DIE by year's end, all of those deaths avoidable but for the lies and disinformation believed by gullible, brainwashed Americans. Indeed, watch as these sad, deluded fools continue to insist things are perfectly fine as the deaths go above 200,000, and then 300,000. American deaths could top a million and these brainwashed people would keep insisting: same deaths as in a normal year! Couldn't be avoided! We're almost at heard immunity! They would have died anyway! The media is lying, the true numbers are far less!

If only the dying could be limited to those who parrot this disinformation, who refuse to admit reality. But it won't, and maybe my parents, and maybe your parents are going to DIE because of American stupidity and lies.

A pox on everyone who refuses to accept reality and do the simple things nearly every other developed country has done to get themselves out of this mess. The American epidemic will not end until 2021, and it is your faults.

September 1, 2020 at 2:48 PM

I'm not sure wishing death or harm on people who don't share your viewpoint is the way to go...

September 1, 2020 at 4:27 PM

Colonel please enlighten us on what is happening in France, Germany, Spain etc - maybe they did all the right things but infections are now increasing substantially again - now what ? I’m in no way supporting the administration’s bungled first go at the virus but the virus isn’t disappearing and we can’t keep everyone locked down forever much less control the people who find it too difficult to wear a mask. I think Disney has handled Florida well and has controlled within its business confines the rules and regulations that guests must follow to reduce the risks. This is far greater than most places you visit on a daily basis.

September 1, 2020 at 5:34 PM

"Colonel please enlighten us on what is happening in France, Germany, Spain etc - maybe they did all the right things but infections are now increasing substantially again - now what ?"

Are you serious? Germany had just over a thousand new cases today, a huge jump up for them. America had nearly FORTY THOUSAND, and our curve is currently FLAT, meaning we had that many yesterday and we'll have that tomorrow. And why did Germany suddenly jump to a thousand? Because they eased up, which is exactly my point. "Now what," you ask? Now they will clamp down again, just as they did before, just as we did before, and just as we are NOT DOING NOW, which is why we have 40,000 new infections and ~800 new deaths a day. Same thing for Spain--they let up their guard, they saw a spike in infections. The only difference is they are now reversing course, shutting things back down to stem the curve. Meanwhile 30% of Americans continue to insist it's no big whoop and we don't have to do anything different. Magic will make it go away!

"I'm not sure wishing death or harm on people who don't share your viewpoint is the way to go..."

You didn't read my post very carefully. I said I wished the deaths could be confined to only those idiots who refuse to wear masks, who refuse to socially distance, who continue to pretend like 180,000 dead is a joke or a fluke. I wish the deaths could be confined to the people who are quite literally asking for the virus, like all those folks on the white house lawn last week. And I wish the rest of us, who have been locked inside for six months, who haven't hugged their parents, so haven't gone to school, and who have FOLLOWED SCIENCE AND COMMON SENSE OBVIOUS TO THE REST OF THE WORLD could be spared.

But nope, the fools who ignore science have taken us all down with them, and tens of thousands of innocent people have died because of their idiocy. If you don't wear a mask, if you don't socially distance, you deserve what you get.

September 1, 2020 at 9:22 PM

I read your post exactly actually. You're wishing death on those who choose not to wear a mask. This is wishing death on those who do not share your viewpoint.

When I see someone not wearing a mask it angers me too but I certainly don't hope they die. Trading one extreme way of thinking for another is not how this situation gets fixed.

September 1, 2020 at 7:49 PM


September 1, 2020 at 9:32 PM

@thecolonel: Sadly places are now claiming as "fact" that "CDC has confirmed less than 10,000 people actually died directly of COVID" and that "infection doesn't mean getting ill." That's who the nuts listen to, not actual science and a shame because with a nationwide shutdown in March, we'd be much better now to open theaters, parks etc instead of worrying over more spikes (Illinois had two month shelter but concern over rises now). Too bad stupidity took hold here.

September 2, 2020 at 8:33 AM


"the fools who ignore science..."

Here's the problem: Whose science do we follow? Just this week the CDC stated that in 94% of covid deaths there was at least one other underlying health issue (heart disease, pulmonary disease, etc.). The next day Dr. Fauci stated, that this is not true, that just because there was an underlying health issue doesn't mean that covid wasn't the initial cause of death.

This is just the most recent case of differing opinions by highly qualified organizations/individuals. So, again I reiterate: Whose science to we follow?

September 2, 2020 at 3:41 PM

Those statements are not mutually exclusive two bits. In any case I don't think ether of those outcomes changes what we should do now.

If we would all think a little less "Me", and a little more "We", then the issue will be solved faster, and with less lives lost.

I have to wonder though if there's a deadly strain of Beard Mites going around. The number of people with masks over their chin, but not their nose, is depressing.

September 2, 2020 at 5:46 PM

Good lord thecolonel there is no need to be so hard core - we can mitigate the risk without creating another calamity in economic hardships.

In regards to the co-morbidity stats, the CDC, which clearly is now politicized, states that 6% of the deaths are essentially attributed to the virus itself; However nearly 40 % of Americans have an underlying issue of some sort and are at greater risk. Therefore, the other 96% either contracted COVID and then died or had a very near terminal condition and also coincidentally had a non-contributing factor of Covid In their death. My guess is that in nearly all of those cases, people died because Covid pushed them there and it was not just incidental.

September 3, 2020 at 12:24 PM

"Good lord thecolonel there is no need to be so hard core."

40,000 new infections a day; 1000 deaths a day. I strongly disagree--there is every reason to be FAR MORE HARDCORE.

The person who asked "which science to follow," each: the one being followed by Vietnam, and Germany, and South Korea, and New Zealand. You know, SCIENCE. Not the lies being pushed by the white house and its propaganda outfit, Fox News.

September 3, 2020 at 3:22 PM

@Thecolonel: Okay, here's another recent example, this one not involving our president nor Fox News: Last month a research team at Duke University tested the effectiveness of 14 different masks at collecting moisture droplets while exhaling. In their research they discovered that the popular gaiter-style of face covering (the ones that hang around the neck and are pulled up over the mouth and nose) are actually worse than no covering at all because the gaiter caused the droplets to disperse into a finer spray and the moisture hung in the air for a longer period of time and was more likely to be inhaled by those nearby.

I have shared this information with friends in the health field and they all say that research simply isn't true!

Duke University would seem to be an outfit very capable of unbiased research.

So when I hear people say to follow the science (or any other phrase to that extent), what they really mean is follow MY science.

September 6, 2020 at 4:33 PM

Thomas Friedman's former taxi driver told me that he will move to Taiwan next month to keep his family save. He lied of course, in reality he leveraged up to buy his Taxi Medallion, worthless these days thanks to Uber. Now he is running away from the debt collectors, ditching his family. Covid-19 has nothing to do with it.

Oh, if only there had been at least one FU patience to fight Covid-19....

September 7, 2020 at 1:48 AM

"So when I hear people say to follow the science (or any other phrase to that extent), what they really mean is follow MY science."

So there's a difference of opinion about a particular type of mask and now suddenly science is in question? America: just couldn't get no dumber!

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