Late this evening, Disneyland Resort officials announced that it would be delaying its theme parks and resort hotels July reopening. This comes after over three months of closure for Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom shuttered its gates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and it affecting visiting guests.
While that hasn’t stopped the reopening plans of other Disney Parks and Resorts around the world and even domestically at Walt Disney World, there was a steady growth of opposition to reopen in California so soon due to the increase of infection cases being reported due to other industries reopening in the state.
Many of those opposing voices came from Disneyland cast members themselves. As the people who would be serving guests on-stage (or on the front line), these cast members would be the first in getting exposed to these mid-COVID conditions – even with physical distancing and mask wearing applied.
Prior to tonight’s announcement, we did hear from a few Disneyland cast members who were open to sharing their thoughts. You can read from a selection of them below, and please note that some identities were hidden per request.
Disneyland Cast Members Comments On Delayed Reopening
“Nobody misses the magic of bringing joy to others more than me but I am also aware that our eagerness to return to a sense of normalcy can have repercussions that set us back even further. Orange County specifically, as well as California as a whole is still seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and the reality is that no preparation can prevent people from grouping in a park that was built in 1955.
Basically the pathways are narrow and so are the queues. So, either people are dangerously grouped together OR the efficiency of the park takes a drastic nose dive to a point where the experience we are known for suffers. I know we all miss Disneyland but it’s too soon and just think how disastrous a second wave of COVID would be if it led to a SECOND theme park shut down. All the money spent retraining cast members will be completely wasted.” – TourGuide Ryan“To be honest, I have very mixed feelings on the whole reopening process. When I first heard the news of Disneyland’s reopening, I spoke with my fellow colleagues, and we can all unanimously agree that we were all scared. It has been 6 months since the first recorded case of COVID-19 emerged, and 4 months since my last shift at the resort. There have been some dramatic changes in our lifestyles since then, from abiding stay-at-home orders to social distancing and mandatory facial masks for preventative care when going out. And since Disneyland’s temporary closure, there has been no significant progress of the virus slowing down, despite all the orders and regulations that the state ordered. In fact, the number of cases and deaths has doubled in over the course of a few months (also that may have something to do with the protests happening all over the country in the past couple of weeks, but that’s another issue), proving to show how contagious this virus is when it is not kept regulated. We are seeing the effects of that even more so, now that Orange County decided to lift the mandatory order for face masks (they say “highly recommended” but let’s be serious, are people really gonna follow a relaxed order like that) and more shops and restaurants are open for the public to sit-in.The main concern that me and a lot of other cast members have with Disneyland’s reopening, is that we may be at risk of prolonged exposure to park guests that may have contracted the virus at any point within the past year or who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus. We simply have no way of knowing. I trust that Disney Parks already has a plan in motion in maintaining social distancing and a training session all cast members will go through, but the question is will it work and is it enough to risk it for EVERYONE involved? Although Disney has mandated and have tested their health/security check-ins and maintained social distancing procedures at Shanghai Disneyland and Disney Springs in Florida, it is still a risk that the park has to take. (Also consider the fact that both procedures happened in different resort grounds- and the social culture is vastly different from one another.) If cast members do get exposure to someone who is at high risk, then they are at risk of spreading it to other cast members, their friends, and their family.However, from an economical standpoint, I do understand why Disneyland came to the decision they need to open soon. Since closure in March, Disneyland already promised to continue paying their cast members their hourly salary until their announced furlough, in which they suggested cast members apply for unemployment benefits so that cast members will not only get their benefits from the state but the additional money from the company for the next 4 months. This money is designed to help for essential needs such as groceries, paying the bills, etc. But the benefits can only go on for so long. As of May, Disney Parks has lost $1 billion in revenue (in a matter of just 4 months) and may continue to dramatically slump down should the closures continue. The Walt Disney Company, as a whole, has lost $3.4 billion in revenue. What could this mean for cast members or other employees of the company? Should closures continue to happen, the company will have to start laying off cast members in order to keep paying the parks and other cast members. Just like when the 2008 recession happened.Personally, I have very mixed feelings for the whole reopening. If I were to choose to come back to assist with the reopening, I would only come back with conditions in regards to my own health regulations, such as working shorter hours or less number of days I am working. I live with an individual who has a high risk of contracting COVID-19 easily, and I would rather not be further exposed in the case that I do contract it or if I am asymptomatic. I personally do not think the risk is worth it.However, I am thinking of whether or not I am still left with a job if Disneyland does decide to open up later. I would have to pick and choose whatever is best not just for me, but for my loved ones around me.Overall opinion: It might be a tad too early for the parks to open immediately within the month, but if they were to extend it to another month or 2 (until August or beginning September), I would be fine with it. Since COVID-19 is classified as a virus (not a disease) and there is no vaccine at the moment, some doctors are speculating that developing an immunity towards the virus might be the only way to combat it at this time. As of now, I am scared and very unsure of what the future might hold for Disneyland from now and the following year.” – M.T.
Disneyland has yet to provide an alternate reopening date, pending guidance from the California state government and approval from their cast member unions.