by Beth Keating
March 31, 2021
This week’s news may be a cause for celebration for some California theme parks, while fostering jealousy at others. Los Angeles County and Orange County will be moving into California's Orange/Tier 3 COVID status. For the eligible theme parks, this means they now have the option to reopen at 25% capacity. Disneyland is located in Orange County, and Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Los Angeles County.
Orange/Tier 3 is labelled “moderate” risk, a less restrictive tier under California's pandemic rules, and while Disneyland and Universal are in that zone, other theme parks such as SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland are still in counties that are labelled “red,” or “substantial” risk, and they currently remain at 15% capacity.
Orange County’s move to the Orange/Tier 3 designation will take place today, March 31, while Los Angeles County will make the change on April 5.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure were scheduled to open under Red/Tier 2 on April 30 with a 15% attendance capacity. This change would allow them the option to reopen at 25%. Disney is still planning an April 30 opening for both parks.
California theme parks were permitted to begin operations on April 1, but Disney opted for an end of the month reopening. However, the Downtown Disney District is already open, and the sold-out “A Touch of Disney” festival at California Adventure will be underway until April 19.
According to the 13-page Covid-19 Industry Guidance: Amusement and Theme Parks bulletin, restrictions under the moderate, Orange/Tier 3 include:
• Parks must limit visitors to a maximum of 25% capacity.
• Indoor capacity limited to a maximum of 25%.
• Indoor dining limited to a maximum of 25% capacity.
• Walk-up ticket sales allowed. Park operators must collect complete name and contact information (including a phone number) of the ticket purchaser for necessary contact tracing.
(Note that while walk up ticket sales are permissible under California’s guidelines, Disney’s managed attendance system requires that in order to enter a park, guests must have both an advance park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date, a procedure similar to what is already in place in Disney World in Florida.)
Additionally, California theme park reopening guidelines limit attendance to California residents only at this time. The standard social distancing and mask requirements remain in effect. Weekly employee COVID testing will also be in place.
For California’s tiered guidelines blueprint, check here.
For details on what’s open and when at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, head to Disney’s website.
Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.
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