California Theme Parks Officials Call Suing a "Viable Option" Over Gov. Newsom's Reopening Guidelines

Disneyland Resort
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Disneyland

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly introduced the guidelines Tuesday.

A group of officials from California's major theme parks gathered Wednesday for a virtual press conference to once again voice their outrage over the state's reopening guidelines for their businesses. They went so far as to say legal action is being considered.

On Tuesday, State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly introduced the guidelines, under which parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain, LEGOLAND California Resort and Knott’s Berry Farm cannot operate until their respective county is placed in Tier 4 "Yellow" (minimal). Once open, all will be required a limited capacity of 25 percent. Disney's Orange County is currently in the "Red" (substantial) tier. Universal's Los Angeles County is at Tier 1 "Purple" (widespread). Smaller theme parks will not have as difficult a path to reopen since they are mostly outdoors and draw crowds mainly from nearby. Therefore, they can open once the respective county is in the Orange tier.

Not long after the Ghaly announcement, the assorted theme parks' officials and the California Attractions and Parks Association issued individual statements blasting the measures for being "unworkable," "arbitrary" and "shameful." Much the same was said Wednesday.

Erin Guerrero, executive director of CAPA, said a lawsuit is being considered. "All options are open at this point. Our No. 1 goal is to be allowed to reopen. At this point, any option is viable," she said.

Karen Irwin, resident and COO of Universal Studios Hollywood, said the guidelines are "not based in science or facts" and it is "disingenuous for the state to say they would work with theme parks on guidelines. Parks should be in Tier 3."

Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said the state is basing policies on "what ifs" rather than facts. "I think we've proven all the world — and in this country — we have robust policies that protect staff and guests." He added that the huge number of those laid off from the assorted parks because of the pandemic is not being weighed "as strongly we believe it should be weighed." Potrock said he was disappointed that despite that fact that state officials took their visit seriously and took a lot of notes for discussions, no such talks took place afterward.

Kurt Stocks, president of LegoLand California Resort, called the guidelines "grossly inconsistent" with guidelines given to other industries, such as zoos, museums and aquariums. "We want the administration to treat us the same as industries of a similar nature," he said.

All of the officials said they planned to continue conversations with Newsom's administration in hopes of altering the guidelines.