What Can Disneyland Do to Get State Approval to Reopen?

October 22, 2020, 7:00 PM · So what happened between the state of California and its theme parks?

The state this week issued reopening guidance that will prevent Disneyland and other major parks from reopening until their counties reach a "minimal" level of Covid exposure — a prospect that might be months away. Park executives balked at that, with Knott's Berry Farm today urging its passholders to write the governor's office in support of reopening the parks sooner.

Sorry to have to say this, but "write your lawmaker" is the last act of desperate campaigners who lack political juice. If you've got pull in your state's capitol, you don't waste your time asking the public to spam lawmakers. So how did it come to this for a multi-billion dollar industry?

Yes, California has taken a harder line toward businesses reopening than many other states. And that's paid off with some of the lowest per capita rates of Covid-19 infections and Covid-related deaths in the nation. But it's not as if California remains on lockdown. Plenty of business sectors and attractions have reopened in the state, including restaurants, shopping malls, card rooms, race tracks, museums, aquariums, zoos, and beaches, as Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks detailed in a press conference yesterday put on by the California Attractions and Parks Association.

Why can't theme parks join them?

According to the presentation Tuesday by California Health and Human Service Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, California views theme parks as more dangerous environments for Covid transmission than outdoor stadiums, due to the larger number of people that a theme park visitor presumably would encounter during a visit.

As we quoted in a post last spring, "Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time." Sitting in a stadium, theater, or restaurant, you share the same air with people around you for an hour or more, increasing your risk of infection. But you are seated near a limited number of the same people for that time, so that limits your potential exposure to the virus. After all, if those people you are seated next to are healthy, you're in the clear, no matter how long you sit next to them.

In a theme park, your encounters with other people can be fleeting, especially with the use of virtual queues and mobile ordering that limit your time in line. But you can walk past hundreds, if not thousands, of people during the day. Even if the odds are low that any one person has the virus, the more people you see, the higher your chances for infection get.

The state of California seems to be weighing the "exposure to virus" risk over the "time" risk in deciding to allow outdoor stadiums to open in earlier tiers and at higher capacities than theme parks. That's fair, because we simply don't yet have a strong enough mathematical model for Covid transmission to suggest otherwise. And California's relatively strong performance on containing Covid transmission to date should buy its leaders a fair level of public confidence.

But California theme park leaders have a point when they ask why beaches, zoos, aquariums, and indoor shopping malls are being allowed to operate in higher tiers and at greater capacities than theme parks. People can pass by thousands of others in those environments, too. Heck, SeaWorld San Diego, which is operating as a zoo right now, is also a theme park. How, exactly, is the public being kept safer at SeaWorld right now by not allowing the park to run its outdoor rides and roller coasters when visitors can sit and watch shows and walk through animal exhibits?

When a San Diego reporter asked Dr. Ghaly this question on Tuesday, he ignored it.

Perhaps roller coasters and thrill rides are such strong attractions that they would lure thousands more people into the parks than they might otherwise attract with only animals, plants, and artistic exhibits to offer. Actually, that's almost certainly the case, but parks can limit the number of people they allow through the gates to maintain a safe operating environment. Just increase the number of square feet that a person requires to maintain safe physical distancing within the venue and then do the math to determine a new safe capacity for that venue. Theme parks easily can manage the number of people they admit to conform to these rules.

If the number allowed is too low to enable the park to operate financially, that's another issue. But, frankly, that would not be the state's problem. The state's role in this pandemic is to help protect public health. If businesses cannot operate safely and profitably, then it's the state's job to keep those businesses closed, rather than allow them to operate while putting public health at risk.

I suspect that a large majority of Californians support this view, which I why I do not believe that the theme park industry's emphasis on its economic impact is politically helping its case to reopen. People being out of work is an argument for increasing unemployment assistance, not for allowing businesses to reopen in spite of health risks.

What can help the industry politically is showing the public what parks will do to keep their visitors and communities safe — which is considerable and, by many accounts, effective. But such demonstrations will not help if they are ignored by the people in charge. Universal Studios Hollywood President and COO Karen Irwin levied a disturbing accusation during yesterday's press conference.

"Despite being told that we would see reports and feedback following the state's visits to several of our sites in the last couple of weeks... that didn't happen," Irwin said. "Those reports were never issued."

If California sent inspectors to Florida theme parks under the promise that they would report back to the parks with feedback before issuing the reopening rules, and that did not happen, that would be a bush league move by California Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary Ghaly. If California leaders were not going to consider what the industry had to show them, they should have had the courage to say that up front, rather than send underlings to put on some meaningless performance. We need to hear the state's response to Irwin's accusation.

But why wouldn't the state take account of how the industry is responding to this outbreak elsewhere? Perhaps because California state officials already have seen first-hand how the state's leading theme parks can be a vector for the spread of infectious disease.

In early 2015, a measles outbreak traced to exposure at Disneyland made national headlines. That link is to an article on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which notes that dozens of people were infected due to exposure at either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure or secondary exposure from those infected at Disney. Public health officials studied this incident in depth, and I suspect that it remains fresh in the minds of some California leaders as they look to steer us through this pandemic.

Health officials in Florida said they have not traced any Covid-19 outbreaks to exposure in the Orlando-area parks. But it's one thing to trace the source of dozens of measles cases and another to trace millions of Covid-19 infections. One cannot discount that the lack of hits in Florida might have a much to do with deficiencies in tracing as the safety of the parks.

The California theme park industry clearly has not earned the faith of the state's public health leadership. Whether that loss of faith happened during the "Disneyland measles outbreak" or some other point in time ultimately does not matter. The industry does not enjoy that confidence now. If the state's theme parks want to be treated like other business sectors in California, industry leaders need to find a way to earn that faith.

At this point, I don't know how they can do that. But I do know that talking about economic impact won't help. Nor will fan spam campaigns.

From January 2015: What Should Disney Do About the Measles Outbreak?

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Replies (28)

October 22, 2020 at 8:05 PM

From what I heard the California government officials trip to Florida was a major reason they don't want the parks to open yet, apparently they weren't too happy with what they saw (they went on a weekend and all 3, WDW/UO/SWO were slammed).

And TBH with many of the major rides having hour waits and the lines snaking all over the park that doesn't surprise me at all. With higher capacities and deep discounts the parks are way different now than they were in July/August.

October 22, 2020 at 9:33 PM

I've kept my mouth shut through most of this, but one point in Robert's article above forces me to comment...

Yes, people's health and safety should always be paramount and I can see where an economic impact doesn't make a good argument with people who are most concerned about this. In a perfect world, yes, this would be an argument for more financial assistance for the unemployed than for opening businesses.

But what happens if the businesses that previously employed all these people fold completely because they're not allowed to reopen (or can only ever reopen at very limited capacity) and those folks NEVER get their jobs back? Is the state prepared to provide economic assistance for them indefinitely? And if that's the plan, where does the state plan to get ITS money when it can't collect any taxes from the closed businesses?

I'm in no way suggesting that Disney or Universal are in danger of permanent closure, but some of the smaller parks could be... I just think there's a longer-term picture here that folks aren't thinking about due to short-term concerns about the virus. Eventually, without the economic support of its various industries, the state isn't going to be able to continue supporting all of its unemployed...

October 23, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Based on everything that has come to light, it seems clear that the state of California has acted in bad faith on the topic of theme parks, and the chance of getting approval to reopen prior to next spring (as a best case scenario) is pretty much zero. Therefore, at this point, the best option for parks is likely the legal option.

Skimming over the guidelines released on Tuesday, there are not only major discrepancies between those levied against theme parks and those of other similar industries in the state, but it is also clear that they were written with no knowledge of the practical operation of a theme park. Not only do they prohibit opening for months, they make it unfeasible for parks to operate in a profitable way once they reopen due to extreme capacity limitations, excessively strict operational requirements, and no criteria under which any of these will be lifted. Additionally, they make no guarantees that parks won't be shut back down shortly after reopening when their county drops out of the statistically improbable to achieve yellow tier. Challenging these guidelines as unfair and discriminatory is likely the only path remaining that may offer any chance of opening in the near term.

What would legal action bring? At minimum, it would hopefully force the state to reveal the data and methodology used to create the guidelines, which could then be evaluated by third party experts to determine legitimacy of the whole thing. Ideally, however, it would either result in the guidelines being overturned and allow parks to open immediately, or it would prompt the government to come up with a workable set of rules. Based on how similar industries are treated in the state, as well as what else is allowed to operate in each tier, something along the following would be very fair:

Purple: Theme parks may operate outdoor rides only, while indoor rides must remain closed (indoor rides are defined as those spending at least 1/3 of the ride duration inside a structure). All non-ride attractions are prohibited. Parks must limit attendance to 5,000 guests or 25% capacity (whichever is less), and only guests that reside within approximately 50 miles of the park (established by zip code) may visit.

Red: Theme parks may operate both outdoor and indoor rides, as well as outdoor shows. Indoor attractions must be operated with only one party per ride vehicle, and indoor queuing must be restricted to the minimum necessary for operation. Park capacity is 25% of design capacity with no guest cap. All visitors must reside within approximately 150 miles of the park and must not reside within a purple tier county.

Orange: Theme parks may operate all attractions under appropriate protocols. Indoor queuing capacity is limited to 25%, and indoor shows may seat only 50% capacity. Park capacity is 50% of design capacity. All visitors from California, excluding those in a purple tier county, are welcome to visit. Additionally, out-of-state visitors may visit if accompanying a California resident.

Yellow: Theme parks may resume full capacity operation as long as all distancing measures can be maintained. All indoor operations are restricted to 50% of capacity. Parks may welcome all visitors.

All Tiers: Retail and dining locations follow the guidelines applied to those operations under that tier. Parks must utilize all distancing and sanitation protocols that have become standardized in the industry.

If legal action fails, park operations will be forced to choose between hibernation and liquidation. Which will likely be dependent on the park, chain, location, and assets, but I wouldn't rule out either option for any theme park in the state. Regardless of what happens, California is going to face a crisis very soon when unemployment runs out for hundreds of thousands of furloughed/laid off theme park employees (not to mention those in related industries). The ramifications of that are going to be an order of magnitude worse than simply reopening and taking the slightly increased risk would be, especially if the state of the pandemic fails to improve in the near future.

October 23, 2020 at 12:57 AM

I have to echo a lot of what Melanie mentioned above and it makes logical sense. This obviously has become a contentious argument that has been ongoing for months now and has really heated up the last few weeks with regard to California theme park openings. I really try to simply look at this through a logical lens than through a political view as this virus can really care less about political beliefs.
It seems to be obvious that the state of California had it's mind made up a while ago as to the reopening plan for theme parks. I can appreciate Governor Newsome's thought process and his intent to shield the people of California from this pandemic. Of course it is imperative that all is done to protect the public against any loss of life. However, the reality that the message is inconsistent shines way too bright to ignore and looks bad for the Governor. How on Earth are theme parks left to stay closed while other like businesses are allowed to open? Plenty of valid arguments have been made on this site as to the level of risk that exist with zoos, movie theaters, museums etc. Why not just have all those places mentioned opened once a location reaches the yellow tier? If that were the case the parks absolutely would not have an argument. It speaks volumes that Dr. Ghaly ignored that question.
Now the 2015 measles outbreak argument in my opinion is pretty weak. Back in 2015 Disneyland was not instilling protocols designed specifically to stop bacterial spread. Back then there was no plexiglass, or hand sanitizing stations, or social distancing. The Disneyland back in 2015 is much different than what would be experienced in today's Disneyland. Obviously as displayed in the Florida parks, Disney worked closely with health officials and has heavily invested in creating a safe environment for its guests and cast members
As for the Florida parks, sure there there is no way to know 100% that people have not contracted the virus within the Florida theme parks. However, case numbers have dropped significantly in Florida since the big spikes seen earlier this summer. Also, if a measles outbreak was able to be traced to Disneyland back in 2015, why would they not be able to trace a COVID outbreak in 2020? Granted, COVID is on a much grander scale but with the population of park attendants being primarily local visitors I would think that a spike in cases traced to a Florida theme park is possible. As we know thus far no outbreaks have yet to be traced to the parks.
In my opinion here the biggest issue is the endgame. Let's face it, there is no hard stop date set where we can say this mess is over. Some have said end of this year, some say by summer next year, some even say 2022 and beyond. The truth is not one person on this Earth knows when we will be able to declare this pandemic over. And yeah, maybe we can just shut the world down till this thing dies away but even then, wouldn't there still be risk of a resurfacing of the virus? Here is where my issue lies with the strict guidelines. If there was a definitive period where the government can say this will be over on ...... then I can see theme parks maybe taking the pill and begin the planning phase for eventual reopen. Unfortunately that is never going to be the case. Any business in this situation is just going to fly blind and will just continue to have to find costs to shed which inevitably leads to higher rates of unemployment and in some cases closing of businesses altogether. And as Melanie so well explained above, how long can the unemployed be feasibly supported. At some point, the well will run dry and then what?
The implications of this whole thing is going to reach far past the point of the pandemic being eventually under control. In my opinion prolonging a shut down with unreasonable measures brings many other consequences especially in the long term. I'm not trying to be insensitive to those who have been ill and have lost loved ones during this horrific pandemic and sadly there is no way to help those that have perished. I do however feel that the longer this shutdown continues, the harder it will be to help the unemployed. I believe we need to keep living our lives but just take some damn precautions. Wear your masks, wash your hands, keep within your own space but we must continue to live. The need for people to live and get out again should be enough to gain faith from state leaders.

October 23, 2020 at 1:28 AM

What can Disney do? Join in the public effort to curtail the virus. SEVENTY FIVE THOUSAND NEW INFECTIONS TODAY in the United States, the second biggest day of new infections EVER!! in a matter of weeks we'll cross 100,000 new infections a day, and deaths are again skyrocketing!!

What can Disney do?

1. Use their intellectual property to push wearing masks. In WW2, Disney (like most other entertainment companies) used its characters to promote the war effort. If Disney cared about opening, they'd be using the full force of their vast entertainment empires to rebuke Trump and push wearing masks, and social distancing. If tomorrow every Disney-owned network aired two dozen advertisements for wearing masks, it would help bend the curve.

2. Proudly announce they will not open until the virus is under reasonable control. "Disney is here waiting, just as soon as we can all go out again!" Instead of griping about a fantasy opening that's not going to occur given the downward trajectory of our country, or sniping at a state government that's done everything right to protect its citizens, the theme park industry should be offering a carrot: together let's get this nightmare under control, and we'll be waiting to celebrate!

3. Stand by. Disneyland CAN'T open right now, we're starting the third, and by far WORST and MOST DEADLY surge of the virus. No rational person would eat indoors right now, and no rational theme park operator would suggest now is the time to crowd together simply to ride a rollercoaster. What more can they do but stand down? It's like a carnival barker selling cotton candy he knows is poisoned--don't lure people out of their homes, into a crowded area, it's a death trap!

4. By doing 1-3, build good will. I appreciate that a great many brainwashed Americans think we're "learning to live with the virus," but in fact we're learning to DIE from it, and as many as 200,000 more Americans are going to die in the next few months. You or your mom could be one of them, your kid may die. And when we see Disney insisting on their right to open to potentially kill more people, it engenders a great deal of ill will. I personally think Chapek is a terrible man the way he attacked our state government, and my opinion of Disney drops daily given their greedy willingness to further the pandemic. Are they here to deliver Walt's dream of family fun, or to kill me and my California family by insisting on opening during a raging pandemic? I seriously doubt Disney's motivations they way they continue to push for a reopening that will only further the murderous epidemic.

Bottom line: Disney isn't opening. No California theme parks are opening. Disneyworld will soon close. We are about to enter the most dark, most deadly period of the virus, and for the next four months the entire country is going to be on complete lockdown. Why? Because the sad, deluded idiots who believe Fox News have refused to wear masks, have refused to socially distance, and now hundreds of thousands of more innocent Americans are going to DIE.

Are you ready? Doesn't matter, here it comes. Everything everyone is typing in these comment sections is about to be rendered asunder by the fastest death toll this country has ever seen.

AJ: the idea that the theme parks are going to sue the state into reopening is pure fantasy, my man. There is zero basis under the law for that type of lawsuit. I mean, if there were, that lawsuit would have been filed long ago, and it hasn't, because it can't.

October 23, 2020 at 2:41 AM

@the__man -- don't tell me they went on a holiday weekend? (Columbus Day)

October 23, 2020 at 5:45 AM

>> But what happens if the businesses that previously employed all these people fold completely because they're not allowed to reopen (or can only ever reopen at very limited capacity) and those folks NEVER get their jobs back? Is the state prepared to provide economic assistance for them indefinitely?

I don’t think that’s going to happen.

The parks I think will go on. I’m confident they will be open next season in some form or another. Even if they were to fall into bankruptcy, I think whoever the assets are in control of will recognise the core business itself is viable, and is profitable, once the short term issue is gone.

For the supporting industries - restaurants, hotels, etc, yes, some of them might fold, in the short term. However when the parks reopen, the need for that support structure will still be there. New operators will fill the gap, or maybe some of the old managers will return with new companies. The jobs will come back.

I do not believe that COVID has fundamentally changed anything about the human desire to travel. This is where I get my confidence.

I broadly agree with AJs thinking in theirs, but I’d walk it back a tier. The top tier should either be full lockdown, or just short of it - maybe in California’s case that means adding a tier, maybe it doesnt, but having parks and other non essentials open at the top gives you nowhere to go legally if the excrement hits the ventilation unit.

And I agree with colonel. We are on Covid’s home turf, meterologically speaking. Because they’re playing at home Team COVID also has the Influenza Cheerleaders backing them up. The pressure on every health organisation everywhere is going to be tight. Do we really want to give it an advantage we don’t have to?

October 23, 2020 at 7:53 AM

the_man is exactly right. i was at MK this past sunday and it was busiest i've seen it yet. that said, i still felt very very safe. the only time i was a little concerned was at splash mountain when the queue started out in the park and looped around in front of pecos bill's. there were no markers or cast members out there to enforce social distancing. i had a large, annoying family behind me not keeping masks on and way too close. i let them go ahead of me, which i often do when i've got someone behind not paying attention. i was also very aware the california team was supposed to be in town this past week and was concerned they may not like what they saw. on the plus side, small world went down to one boat operation as they spray sanitized the other boat and then sent it empty and repeated until they had all the boats sanitized. also, entrance and exit of park was as light as it has been since reopening. all in all, i believe, if people do what they need to do, CA could open their parks safely.

October 23, 2020 at 9:33 AM

This Halloween and Thanksgiving, when these CA theme parks remain practically shuttered past some retail and very socially distanced eating, is when we will see the pandemic spread in CA as families and friends with quarantine fatigue venture out inside each others' homes, mostly not wearing masks, and not socially distanced. Our leaders have given us often laughable guidelines and mandates including "no chanting" at the Thanksgiving table. My view is open things up with strict mask mandates, at restaurants and venues that can have outdoor heaters to keep people mingling with loved ones outdoors, socially distanced, and with often stringent sanitizing and health screening. Right now we have a ruining of everyone's nerves, businesses are shutting down, unemployment is sky high, and mistrust in Covid-19 vaccines that are not even approved yet (BTW I am pro vaccine and will get). Keeping Disney, Universal, Knotts, and so on shuttered is not going to slow down the spread of Covid-19, but keeping them closed will hurt their communities, employees, and will make some who would like to go and visit worse off by keeping them closed and encouraging them in a sense to simply meet with their friends and family indoors.

October 23, 2020 at 9:59 AM

Once again thecolonel shows that he is incapable of taking an objective look at the present situation. Please keep your unfeasible radical left agenda off this site until you’re capable of taking an unbiased objective look. Your alarmist extreme beliefs are why America will be in ruin and our economy will get dragged into the ground

October 23, 2020 at 10:06 AM

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

October 23, 2020 at 10:07 AM

I don't think the parks have any other solutions other than go into hibernation or attempt to overturn these guidelines through the courts.

A public safety campaign sounds like a great idea, but what good would it do? Ultimately, the guidelines that California have established make it incredibly difficult to reach the Yellow Tier where traditional theme parks would be able to operate. The metrics to reach those levels are so low that most professionals believe it would probably take Orange County nearly a YEAR before it would reach this tier, and LA County will take even longer. Even if Disney and Universal blasted public information ads across their substantial spheres of public influence, it would not significantly shorten that timeline to reach the Yellow Tier. Even at the Yellow Tier, theme parks would be forced to operate under strict restrictions that would be substantially more stringent than identical settings outside of theme park gates. Dr. Ghaly would not offer any time frame to eventually transition below the Yellow Tier and remove those restrictions, and even made comments regarding the complications and concerns the state would have even after a vaccine is widely distributed. That means even if theme parks eventually get their jurisdictions to a point where they can open their gates in the Yellow Tier, the restrictions on their operations will likely remain in places for months or years beyond.

Why would theme park companies invest significant resources for a public health campaign when it won't get counties any closer to the Yellow Tier and even if the Yellow Tier is achieved, parks will struggle to make ends meet under unreasonable restrictions that will remain in place on their operations for who knows how long even after a vaccine is widely distributed? Also, many here are citing war ads and other efforts that businesses put forth during crises. However, in many of those situations, governments approached companies to perform those public services and in most cases provided compensation for those ads and contributions to combat the crises. I don't see the State of California going to Disney or Universal and asking and paying them to help create a campaign, and given what the state has done to the theme park industry, why in the world would they do the State any favors at this point? Even if parks eliminate as much overhead and excess costs during these closures, they're still burning through cash at an unprecedented rate. Why would they spend additional money on advertising that's not going to turn their revenue spigot on any faster?

I agree with Robert that the "call/write your reps" campaign is a mostly worthless effort, but is an inexpensive way to try to stem the tide. Theme parks are on very solid ground in their arguments against these guidelines issued by the executive branch. There are only 2 ways in our representative democracy to reign in an overzealous executive branch, challenge the actions in court (judicial) and/or push written laws through the legislature that clarify/override executive actions. Court challenges are EXPENSIVE and can be time consuming, so utilizing the legislative pathway allows for another approach that may yield results more quickly. However, that should not preclude parks from launching court challenges as there's no guarantee that such a campaign would make a significant impact.

I think the judicial option is the most likely to be successful, but could take significant time, and as noted above and by others, might portray parks wanting to place money ahead of safety.

What I think parks should do instead is to initiate a public campaign that exposes the hypocrisy of California's guidance. They should all work together to actively advertise visiting other theme parks around the world. Disney could actively promote taking trips to WDW, Tokyo Disney, and other resorts around the world to Californians. Health and safety procedures could be integrated into the ads to demonstrate that while California officials don't trust that theme parks can operate safely, plenty of other governments around the world are pleased with their procedures. It would be the ultimate slap in the face to Newsom and Ghaly to highlight their hypocrisy while still promoting public health (showing mask usage, sanitation, and other active measures used within foreign parks) and a perfectly legal way for residents to enjoy theme parks that are being deliberately withheld from them in their home state.

October 23, 2020 at 10:18 AM

>> What I think parks should do instead is to initiate a public campaign that exposes the hypocrisy of California's guidance. They should all work together to actively advertise visiting other theme parks around the world. Disney could actively promote taking trips to WDW, Tokyo Disney, and other resorts around the world to Californians.

That could be an interesting threat... Since California clearly doesn’t want people going to Cali, I can’t see them being fond of encouraging residents to travel...

October 23, 2020 at 1:31 PM

The bottom line is this, instead of all this quibbling, the theme parks and the state should work out and agree on a workable plan to open and still keep people safe. Yes, the coronavirus will not go away and may get worse, but keeping businesses closed is not the right solution. If people are not wearing their masks, then increase enforcement. When I went to the Taste of Knott's, a guest was walking around with a drink in hand and mask off, and a Knott's cast member told them they had to put it on or sit at a table. Increase mask enforcement, and do whatever else it takes to get guests to comply with social distancing. Covid-19 is not going away, we have to learn how we can live with it and still live our lives.

October 23, 2020 at 1:57 PM

"The bottom line is this, instead of all this quibbling, the theme parks and the state should work out and agree on a workable plan to open and still keep people safe."

You would think that could happen, and the theme parks have stated a desire to find a compromise and to directly address the state's concerns multiple times over the course of this process. However, the officials in Sacramento don't appear to have any interest in listening to what the professionals have to say, and would rather rule their subjects with an iron fist than listen to reason. When asked direct questions regarding the rationale behind the recently published guidance, Dr. Ghaly was silent. When clear discrepancies are identified in the guidance, crickets.

The parks have not received any reports or documentation regarding the state's "research" into park operations in other states/countries despite the week delay in releasing the guidance supposedly because of this needed research. Newsom and his administration refuse to listen to reason, and are applying their own arbitrary standards to an industry they know nothing about, while the professionals who actually run these businesses are kept in the dark. It's only 1-way communication from the state to its subjects, and a proverbial "talk to the hand" when anyone questions the state's logic, rationale, or scientific basis for these edicts issued from the golden throne.

October 23, 2020 at 2:15 PM

Russell, I agree and could not put it better. Could there be another reason why the state is 'being stubborn'? 'Health first' is their reasoning and it sounds oh so good...but put everything together and there's something fishy about their intransigent stance. Could it possibly be politics? No...

October 23, 2020 at 4:43 PM

So, first off I DO wear a mask while out in public. However what many seem to be ignorantly forgetting is we are told MASKS reduce/prevent spread, if that IS the case then Theme Parks should be reopened with MANDATORY mask wearing and social distancing enforced, failure to abide results in immediate removal from said park. Being that Newsom says one thing then the opposite makes many wonder if masks are effective! Newsom says they are as, do many health officials, but then they say Theme Parks cannot reopen EVEN with requiring Mask wearing! What is it People? Maybe if Newsom and others were CONSISTENT in their thinking and APPLICATION the many would wear masks..IF and I repeat IF masks reduce/prevent spread then REOPEN The theme parks and everything else, or be honest with us and tell us the science is unsure if masks help and THAT is why things must remain closed! At least be friggin CONSISTENT and then you might actually have more people buy in to your ideas.

October 23, 2020 at 4:47 PM

Y'all can disagree and blame Newsom and write your representatives, that's fine. But for me, The crowded footage I've seen from FL is horrifying, and the low mask/distancing compliance and guest behavior seems very troubling.

Risk is EXPOSURE X TIME, and the number of people you'll spend more time next to in an attraction queue is a higher risk than the short-term adjacencies of shopping, or the longer-term but less-people adjacencies of dining (or even movies/sporting events) just because of the percentage of possible carriers you'll be exposed to over the course of your day.

Plus, the CA properties are very different from FL; they have a FAR smaller footprint overall w/the same attendance impact, and a far larger passholder base that all live closer to the parks, meaning even at lowered capacity it will be packed every day, all day.

You can say "measles is more contagious" and be scientifically correct, but it has a vaccine. As mentioned above, we just had seventy-five thousand Covid infections in the US yesterday, the second biggest day of new infections ever, and in a matter of weeks we'll cross 100,000 new infections a day. Regardless if it's "harder to catch" and "most people survive it" (I've lost four friends to it), the bottom line is it's not contained or treatable like Measles, so it's a straw man argument.

And comparing it to the overseas parks doesn't take into account that those countries had faster national responses and integrated contact tracing into their response. We cannot contain the virus without tracing it; saying "there have been no reported cases in the Florida parks" is conjecture at best since Florida is doing no actual consumer-level tracing.

This is a failure not of CA state government, but from lack of adequate Federal response, and I believe that CA is doing the responsible thing. The strain on hospitals and healthcare has a ripple effect to the overall economy and must be curtailed first.

October 23, 2020 at 6:08 PM

@Colonel --- you keep saying that theme parks cannot sue. Obviously they can. And they might! Laws and policies are challenged in the courts all the time.

How is this any different? Sure, a judge could side with the state or could even throw out a lawsuit under certain situations. But the suit could absolutely be filed.

Certain Coivd restrictions in other states have indeed been challenged. And a few times, the state has lost! Again, how is this any different?

Your argument seems to be that since California has a right to make policies, that those policies cannot be questioned in a court? Uhm. What?!!?!!

Laws can and are voided by courts all the time. What planet are you living on?

October 24, 2020 at 1:20 AM

@Colonel --- you keep saying that theme parks cannot sue. Obviously they can. And they might! Laws and policies are challenged in the courts all the time.

Sure, anyone can sue anyone at any time. But is that lawsuit going to survive? Again, if Disney thought it had a viable solution through the courts, it would have filed that lawsuit already, and it hasn't, because it has expensive lawyers, and they know they can't sue the state government into overriding public health concerns. It's just that simple.

85,000 new infections today. Death rate up 10% over the two week average. And we're talking about riding Midway Mania. People will risk their families' lives over Midway Mania? It's a Wii game!

October 24, 2020 at 3:04 AM

Or maybe they haven't because it could be bad PR? They don't want to do anything that could be viewed as political ahead of the election? Or maybe they're still hoping to work it out with the state?

They're obviously at least considering a lawsuit.

And yeah, I'm with you on midway mania. I will risk my own personal health for other attractions though :)

October 24, 2020 at 4:08 AM

Aside from health first aspect. Less than 1 new case per 100,000. That right there guarantees at least another year. This is what I see that makes me question their motives. Yellow Tier Number of New daily cases <1. There is No WAY a county the size of Orange and LA Counties. Secondly What’s this crap about attracting Outsiders. Did they even bother to ask WDW if they were getting anyone from across the country. I think Dr. Mark ???? I’m not too sure the threat of that is too high. NOBODY’S going anywhere. The Borders are closed. And where are the notes to these visits. And analysts in WS said that Disneyland could operate at 50% with protocols in place. Because of all the above Newsom
Did not think this through.

October 24, 2020 at 11:43 AM

>> Russell, I agree and could not put it better. Could there be another reason why the state is 'being stubborn'? 'Health first' is their reasoning and it sounds oh so good...but put everything together and there's something fishy about their intransigent stance. Could it possibly be politics? No...

As I’ve said before Disfan, your thinking falls into a massive hole. If the Californian government wanted to trash the economy for “political reasons”, closing theme parks is a pretty ineffective way to go about it.

In Chester, on the English/Welsh Border, there is a drive in Cinema that can’t sell hot dogs, and can’t let customers use the toilet... in fact if their customers stray into the wrong part of the property they can face fines.

Why? Wales has gone into what they’re calling a firebreak. Everything non essential is off. The toilets and hotdog machine, and part of the carpark are in wales.

If you go into your local superstore and buy bread, you’re fine, but should you want toast, that exact same store cannot, by law, sell you a toaster, for the duration of the firebreak.

If someone wanted to trash the economy, that’s the least they’d do. And even though I agree that’s too far, I still would conceed the motivation is public health.

I think you really need to get a sense of perspective. If Not being able to go to a theme park is number 1 in your worries right now, you’re doing better than the rest of us.

October 24, 2020 at 12:12 PM

@davecobb brought up something we've been overlooking: Disneyland is smaller and more cramped than WDW and so distancing a bit trickier in some areas. That's probably a factor in all this as for every ride that has more outdoor line (Pirates), another is more indoors and even walking around would have a larger risk of getting it from someone.

October 24, 2020 at 6:09 PM

The failure of the California state government is not their decision to leave the parks closed. Rather it's their unwavering stubbornness (the governor's own word) to show ANY inclination to accommodate park operators.

I do not believe the state government made any real effort at visiting the Orlando parks in a manner that is credible. I believe that a credible audit of the Florida operations of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando would have:

1. Started with creating and engagement framework with park safety and operations management that would have allowed investigators to have comprehensive understanding of the protocols in place, the reasoning behind the protocols and how these protocols are being monitored and assessed. I absolutely GUARANTEE the park operators would welcome this level of cooperation.

2. Regular written and public documentation of every meeting, every inspection, every correspondence associated with the California investigation team's work. Public documentation that can be reviewed by every laid off cast member, the media and park operators -- holding the state government accountable for its conclusions.

3. The state contingent should remain in Florida reviewing the parks' operations until the California parks are allowed to re-open. They should stay in Florida, watch how the protocols are managed and how they evolve.

Too much? Too demanding? I would suggest that this is a small request when weighed against the thousands of DLR and USH cast members who are sitting at home fearing for their futures.

There is absolutely no reason that the state of California should not enthusiastically embrace this plan ... Unless they are just committed to a policy of being "stubborn".

October 25, 2020 at 6:27 PM

Once more my Illinois county now has to shut down indoor dining because positivity rates had risen to 9 percent (hopefully just a few weeks but could be longer). So yes, a danger in opening too much and then having to shut down again so little wonder Newsom is wary of this.

October 26, 2020 at 1:14 PM

"Once again thecolonel shows that he is incapable of taking an objective look at the present situation. Please keep your unfeasible radical left agenda off this site until you’re capable of taking an unbiased objective look."

Hahah, it's all the red states that are on fire with the virus right now, seems like if California can continue to carefully control the virus you fools might just burn yourselves out.

October 26, 2020 at 7:17 PM

So thecolonel is laughing at people suffering in the "red states"?

Way to keep it classy.

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