A group of Disneyland employees and fans joined together on Saturday morning to hold a rally outside the shuttered Southern California theme park in an effort to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue reopening guidance.
Around 8 a.m. a group of more than 20 showed up (wearing masks) with signs demanding Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood be allowed to reopen, video from local news coverage shows. Both destinations have been shuttered since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, both parks’ shopping and dining districts have been opened since the summer, allowed under the state’s county case tier system. Downtown Disney has been immensely popular, parking for the district having been halted numerous times over the weekends to control the flow of visitors due to the decreased capacity allowance.
The battle to reopen the SoCal theme parks has been an ugly one, coming to a boiling point last month when Disney drew a line in the sand and essentially demanded Newsom offer a path to reopening. The governor did not budge. A week later, Disney announced it was laying off 28,000 employees (mostly from Disneyland, but also a portion from Disney World), and Disney chairman Bob Iger resigned from the state’s economic coronavirus task force. Again, Newsom seemed to shrug off the development, saying during a routine press conference he was not “surprised” Iger resigned. During that same presser, he said there was “no hurry” to reopen the parks.
Disney and the California Attractions & Parks Association were baffled and quickly blasted Newsom for being “unreasonable.” It was after that exchange that Newsom appeared to slightly soften, announcing staff would visit the Florida parks. Newsome also sent a team to visit Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood this week.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek this week also criticized the state while a guest on CNBC’s Closing Bell. “It seems to me that the guidelines that are set up by the state of California are more stringent than any state across the country,” said the exec. “If you look at the history of Disney and what we’ve been able to do during the reopening — rather than arbitrary standards set up without regard to actual fact — and what we’ve been able to do as a company, I think you’d come to a different decision about reopening Disneyland.”
Currently, there have been no known cases of COVID-19 linked to the Florida theme parks.