Disneyland President Slams California For Not Allowing Parks to Reopen Despite Low COVID Rate

Brittany M. Hughes | October 21, 2020

Disneyland is responding to California’s latest mandate that requires the local county to reach the “lowest” tier for COVID cases before the park can reopen, throwing a massive wrench in the massive resort's plans to open their doors - and their coffers - for the first time in months.

According to CNBC, Disney and Universal Studios had planned to open their parks with limited capacity restrictions and safety measures in place after the county reached between 1 and 3.9 daily reported coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. But the state of California had other plans, instead telling the companies they couldn’t open until local COVID rates dropped to less than 1 in 100,000 – a standard that likely can’t be met until next year.

“We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement Tuesday. “Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities.”

Orange County, where Disneyland is located, is still seeing a daily reported rate of about 4.9 cases per 100,000, while Los Angeles County, where Universal Studios Hollywood is located, is reporting 10.1 cases per 100,000 people.

By contrast, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has been open since July. Similarly,Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World, Legoland, and Busch Gardens’ locations in Florida all opened in June.

Potrock slammed the state of California for keeping park doors shut while letting other businesses begin to reopen, saying the arbitrary rule “ignores science, reason and the economic devastation this will bring.”

“Pushing us into Tier Four behind other businesses that have already reopened makes no sense,” Karen Irwin, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios Hollywood, said in a statement. “It ignores science, reason and the economic devastation this will bring to the thousands of our employees, the indirect businesses that rely on us and our industry overall.”

“We should be in Tier Three, along with other industries that have proven they can reopen responsibly,” she said. “Our employees are ready to go back to work and the fact that they won’t be able to do so until well into next year is shameful.”