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After 13 months of being shuttered due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland reopened Friday. And fans are ready as a slew of guests showed up at the world-famous theme park hours before gates officially opened.
Video and pictures on social media showed what will be some of the first guests to step foot in the park in more than a year, all decked out in their Disney attire.
— Jeff Gritchen 🇺🇸 (@jeffgritchen) April 30, 2021
“This is a monumental day for Anaheim,” said Mayor Harry Sidhu. “We have all missed the joy of Disneyland, and we are so glad to have it back. But this means so much more to working families, small businesses, and our city. The impact of having the theme park closed for 13 months has been devastating. This begins our economic recovery and brings hope back to Anaheim.”
Disney CEO Bob Chapek gave a speech to the theme park staff before the gates opened to the public. Chairman Bob Iger was also in attendance.
“Wow. What a day,” Chapek said to employees before the park opened. “We have waited so long for this. You can just feel the energy and excitement all around us.”
The executive noted there were guests lined up to enter the park Thursday night. “For 412 days our park has been closed. And throughout that whole time, with virtually no days missed, this color guard has raised that flag in honor of our country and to provide some sense of hope that the Disneyland Resort could open up again,” he noted.
Once the gates were opened, cast members (park staff) lined Main Street to welcome guests back into the park.
Disneyland has new health and safety measures in place, along with a greatly reduced capacity to ensure social distancing. For the moment, under the guidelines, only in-state residents may visit the park.
Demand was so great for tickets and reservations (both required to visit the theme park), the system crashed. Among the new key details are the hours of operation, which for now (for both Disneyland and California Adventure) will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Like the rest of the major theme parks in Southern California, Disneyland shuttered last March. However, it was able to reopen its Downtown Disney shopping and dining district a few months later. That area was expanded as the year progressed. Still, Friday marks the first time in more than a year that any of the rides will be fired up.
The major SoCal theme parks were in a bitter stalemate with Gov. Gavin Newsom for a large portion of 2020, pushing to reopen safely. Disney and Universal Studios Hollywood pointed to the successful reopenings of their counterparts in Florida. As the state made greater progress in combating the virus, Newsom relented and the parks were able to reopen beginning April 1.
Disney stock closed up at $186.02 a share.
10:12 a.m.: Updated with comments from CEO Bob Chapek.
— Tony Cabrera (@abc7tony) April 30, 2021
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