Disneyland Unions Plan Protest at Theme Park Over "Rapid Timetable" to Reopen

Disneyland March 13, 2020
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The monorail passes an entrance gate to Disneyland on March 13, 2020 in Anaheim.

The demonstration comes a week after the group sent an open letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Unions representing Disneyland Resort employees have planned a protest caravan around the Anaheim theme park on Saturday to express their concern over health and safety as the destination plans to reopen next month. 

The Coalition of Resort Labor Unions sent an open letter dated June 17 to California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressing their concern for both workers and would-be park guests as Disney attempts to get state clearance for operation next month. 

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, the unions plan to protest via a caravan circling the resort "as an action to show our concerns regarding safety," reads a message from the unions to members. As of Wednesday morning, at least 44 members were signed up to partake in the demonstration. An invitation for the protest was posted to the Facebook page of multiple unions. On at least one page, reaction among members was mixed, some sharing enthusiasm over the unions' stance while others shared financial concern should the company in fact push the reopen date. An official request for comment from one of the unions was not immediately returned. 

Disney intends to reopen the Downtown shopping and dining district on July 9, while the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel will reopen July 23. Pending state and local government approval, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park will be opening July 17. The park, just like Florida's Walt Disney World, has been shuttered since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The CRLU, which is made up of a dozen Disneyland unions, representing approximately 17,000 service members, told Newsom in the letter, "Unfortunately, despite intensive talks with the company, we are not yet convinced that it is safe to reopen the parks on Disney’s rapid timetable." 

Disney has shown no signs of altering its plans. A lengthy message from Dr. Pamela Hymel, Disney Parks chief medical officer, posted the same day the unions' letter was sent to Newsom, stated in part, "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. We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices."

Continued Hymel on the official Parks blog, "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."