Written by Lio Rowan (Features Writer)
On Tuesday, October 20th, the state of California issued new theme park reopening guidelines. This was part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. According to the regulations, larger theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood won’t be able to reopen until their respective counties reach the “minimal risk level” for Covid-19. This means that they must have no more than 1 per 100,000 people diagnosed with Covid-19 before they are considered low risk. Smaller theme parks are able to reopen sooner. For example, California’s Great America, located in Santa Clara County, which is classified as being in the “moderate” tier, could theoretically open in one to three weeks if the county successfully moves to the “minimal” tier. This is bad for places like Disneyland, who has even expressed that they are considering taking legal action because of their inability to reopen.
California Attractions and Parks Association Executive Director, Erin Guerrero, said that the administration did not use science or data when creating the states theme park reopening plan. Disneyland resort president Ken Potrock claims that Disney’s Anaheim theme parks can responsibly reopen with strictly enforced, science-based health and safety protocols. As Guerrero said in a statement. “By forcing amusement parks to stay closed until their home country reaches Tier 4, the Governor has issued a ‘Keep Theme Parks Closed Indefinitely’ plan which will devastate California’s major theme park industry.” There’s possibilities of theme parks going bankrupt during this time and having to close indefinitely.
However, as expected from the history making Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the management has said it’s very likely that they will be able to reopen under the guidelines provided. It would be the first amusement park to reopen in California since March when everything closed due to the pandemic. Spokesman Kris Reyes said there is no solid release date yet, but that it will be posted on the official website as soon as possible. The boardwalk is currently open for restricted dining and shopping, and the bowling alley allows visitors, but only 25% of their maximum capacity is allowed in at a time. Reyes said in a statement: “The safety of our employees and guests will remain our top priority whenever we reopen.” He also stated that there isn’t a way to tell how many or which rides will be open, but it “certainly won’t be all of them.” It’s good luck for the Santa Cruz area and everyone else who eagerly awaits the reopening of our long loved Boardwalk. However, larger theme parks in more high risk counties are continuing to struggle in finding ways to safely open their doors again. The guidelines provided were gathered from data collected when state officials visited a number of theme parks and spoke with operators about reopening guidelines. A combination of factors influenced the state’s decision, including the amount of time spent at parks, the number of people coming from far away and how many “touch points” there were for the virus to potentially spread.
We won’t know for sure when all the theme parks will be allowed to reopen, it’s different for each county and could easily fluctuate. Dr. Ravina Kullar, an Epidemiologists, stated that “Being at a theme park, it will be very difficult for people to keep their facemasks on, physically distance, keep hand hygiene at the top of their minds and not gather in mass crowds,” she said. “In the meantime, if you want Disneyland and Universal Studios to open, take the virus seriously and mask up.”