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It’s time for Californians to dig their Mickey Mouse ears out of storage. Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park will reopen their gates to state residents on April 30, more than a year after shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Anaheim, Calif.-based theme parks will reopen at limited capacity and in line with state public health requirements, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC’s Squawk Alley on Wednesday.
“It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been able to create magic for our guests, and put our cast members back to work and help the associated businesses around the Anaheim area that currently depend on Disneyland for their livelihood,” Chapek said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us, I think, to bring that magic back to everyone involved.”
California’s public health directives have kept the parks closed since last March. But under new guidance released last week, red-tier counties — the second-highest level of risk — can open theme parks to in-state visitors, at 15% capacity, starting April 1.
The parks will operate under a new reservation system designed to enforce capacity limits and promote physical distancing, according to the resort’s website. Face coverings will be required, and the facilities will adopt enhanced cleaning procedures and modify certain experiences in order to reduce contact.
“Beloved characters will pop up in new ways and sometimes in unexpected places as they remain mindful of physical distancing,” reads a post on the official Disney Parks Blog. “Certain experiences that draw large group gatherings – such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date.”
The resort is moving to reopen in phases. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa plans to reopen with limited capacity starting April 29, followed by Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on May 2. And its Downtown Disney District, a retail and entertainment strip, has been open to the public since mid-July.
“We’ve seen the enthusiasm, the craving for people to return to our parks around the world,” Chapek said. “We’ve been operating at Walt Disney World for about nine months now, and there certainly is no shortage of demand.”
Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure were initially planning to open their doors on July 17 — Disneyland’s 65th anniversary — but delayed their reopening indefinitely pending state guidance. Employees had also raised safety concerns and questions about the availability of COVID-19 testing.
The prolonged closures left park workers and area businesses in limbo, with devastating financial consequences. Disney announced in September it was laying off 28,000 workers from its Parks, Experiences and Products division, with 67% of those part-time employees.
In their announcement on Wednesday, officials said more than 10,000 employees will be returning to work.