Disneyland Reopening Delayed Amid California's COVID-19 Case Rise

Disneyland Anaheim Park on March 14 2020 - H
David McNew/Getty

A closed Disneyland in Anaheim, California on March 14, 2020.

The company said it would not get state clearance in time for its proposed July 17 opening.

The Disneyland theme park will likely not be reopening next month. 

The company on Wednesday said it would not get state clearance in time for its proposed July 17 reopening of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim. It remains unclear when the park might now reopen. 

On June 23, California saw 7,149 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which marked a record for the state. 

"The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4," Disney said in a statement. "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 reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials."

Disney added: "Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date." 

However, the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district, part of the Disneyland Resort, will reopen July 9. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s communications director Nathan Click said of the theme park decision, "The Governor appreciates Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about reopening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties. 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."

The announcement comes in the middle of the public push-and-pull with unions representing park employees who have made it clear they feel the destination was reopening too soon, putting staff and guests alike a risk during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Coalition of Resort Labor Unions sent an open letter dated June 17 to California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressing their concern. 

On Wednesday, Disney noted, "We have had positive discussions and are very pleased to have signed agreements from 20 union affiliates, including the Master Services Council which represents more than 11,000 of our cast members. The signed agreements detail plans that include extensive safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen, and get thousands of our cast members back to work." 

The same day the unions' letter was sent, Dr. Pamela Hymel, Disney Parks chief medical officer, posted a lengthy message on the Parks' official blog.

"We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts," Hymel wrote. "We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices. At both parks, this includes reducing capacity; temperature checks for guests prior to entering our theme parks; increasing cleaning and disinfecting, especially in high-traffic areas; adjusting experiences to accommodate physical distancing; requiring face coverings for guests 2 and older; and empowering our guests with options like contactless payments and easy access to handwashing and hand sanitizer locations."

A number of unions have planned a protest caravan around the Anaheim theme park on Saturday to express their concern over health and safety. It is unclear if the protest will still happen amid the news about the reopening delay. 

Disneyland and Walt Disney World have been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic. The Florida theme park and resort will reopen next month, state and local clearance already granted. Disney World will also host the remainder of the NBA and MLS seasons. 

7:45 p.m.: Updated with comment from Gov. Newsom's office.