An overhaul of California’s COVID-19 security rules introduced Friday might enable Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain and different theme parks to reopen their outside rides and sights as quickly as April 1 in the event that they’re in counties the place coronavirus transmission is low sufficient.Another caveat: In a lot of the state, parks must preserve attendance at 15% of capability — a fee so low that business specialists say the parks will surely not clear a revenue.Still, they are saying, parks are more likely to embrace that money-losing mode for some time as a result of they’ll want time to ramp up operations. “Fifteen % just isn’t sustainable as an working degree,” stated John Gerner, a theme park professional and managing director of Leisure Business Advisors. “But as a transition towards totally opening … it is smart.”
Under the brand new guidelines introduced Friday, amusement parks will likely be allowed to reopen as quickly as April 1 with 15% capability in counties which can be within the crimson tier — the second-strictest of California’s four-tier reopening roadmap. A county is positioned into considered one of 4 tiers primarily based on its variety of new COVID-19 instances per 100,000 individuals, fee of optimistic coronavirus assessments and an fairness measure.Under the brand new rules, the attendance cap rises to 25% of capability as soon as a county progresses to the third-strictest tier, orange, and 35% upon reaching essentially the most lenient tier, yellow. The earlier guidelines forbade parks from reopening till their residence county reached the yellow tier and capped attendance at 25% capability. In November, Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk grew to become the primary theme park within the state to reopen underneath the earlier guidelines, however it closed after one weekend when COVID-19 instances climbed once more in Santa Cruz County.Los Angeles County (residence to Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood) and Orange County (residence to the Disney parks and Knott’s Berry Farm) stay in essentially the most restrictive tier, purple, however they seem near getting into the crimson tier.
Theme park operators praised the state’s rule change, saying the practically yearlong closure has been a brutal monetary hit to the parks, their employees, close by companies and the cities that depend on the tax income generated by the parks.Since the parks closed final yr, most have furloughed or laid off lots of their employees. The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim let go about 10,000 of its practically 31,000 staff after its Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks closed. More than 1,000 have been rehired to assist employees a meals and buying occasion scheduled to start out March 18.Gerner and different specialists say the theme parks will want time to rehire and retrain employees earlier than they reopen. Starting with crowds which can be solely 15% of full capability will make the transition simpler, they stated.Many of the employees who had been let go have landed different jobs, so theme parks might want to rent and practice individuals who have by no means operated an attraction or served meals in that setting, the specialists say.
“Everyone is rusty,” stated Martin Lewison, a enterprise administration professor and theme park professional at Farmingdale State College in New York. “They must knock the rust off of issues.” Lewison agreed that almost all theme parks is not going to make a revenue working at 15% capability, however he stated any income is healthier than none. Plus, he famous that the parks proceed to incur prices — taxes, utility payments and upkeep — even when they’re closed.Disneyland insiders say the100-acre park has a capability of about 80,000 individuals per day. The state’s new rules would enable about 12,000 guests per day as soon as Orange County reaches the crimson tier.A query is whether or not theme park followers will rush to the parks when the gates open or be hesitant, fearing the chance of catching COVID-19 whereas using Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds or Universal Studios Hollywood’s tram tour.
“I feel lots of people are going to suppose twice,” Gerner stated.Ryan Temple, a Disney fan from Phoenix who visited Disneyland a few instances a month earlier than the pandemic, stated he has missed the park and infrequently reminisces by photos from his previous visits.Still, he stated, he in all probability gained’t be there the day the park reopens.“Even although it might be at 15% capability, that will nonetheless be a sudden shock to be round that many individuals once more,” he stated, including that he could wait till he will get vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.
“I’m hoping that comes sooner quite than later,” Temple stated.