California Gov. Sends Team to Out-of-state Theme Parks to Help Inform Decision on Reopening Disneyland

“While we absolutely take people’s word for information that they provide us, we want to see things for ourselves," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference.

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom said he sent a team to out-of-state theme parks to explore the possibility of reopening Disneyland, the only Disney theme park in the world that remains closed.

“This week… we have supported an effort to actually find out directly by sending our own team to these sites as it relates to theme parks to get a better sense of what’s going on,” Newsom said during a news conference on Monday. “While we absolutely take people’s word for information that they provide us, we want to see things for ourselves… I want folks to come back and tell me what they saw, what their own experience was because this is serious.”

Disneyland in California has remained closed since it first shut down on March 14 even as parks around the world have reopened with new protocols in place, including the mandated wearing of masks. In Orlando, Disney World reopened on July 11, but has since been forced to reduce hours at Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney has also said it was forced to lay off about 28,000 U.S. employees.

The Orange County Register reported that the team sent out by Newsom will visit Disney World.

The governor said he was doing “stubborn research and going across states” to determine if it was safe to open large theme parks, which he called “small cities” that host everything from conferences to parades.

couple takes a selfie outside Disneyland
A couple takes a selfie in front of the closed Disneyland Main Gate in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, October 2, 2020. Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty

“There’s people from all around the world that descend, not just people that are proximate to these theme parks that come together and mix,” he said, adding “We are California — we have values, and we have an approach, and we have a new frame of discipline, and we’re going to be stubborn in terms of keeping people’s health front and center.”

Dr. Pamela Hymel, the chief medical officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement on Twitter the company has taken a “robust science-based approach” to reopening.

“We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a 'health-first' approach,’” she wrote.

On the other side of the world, Hong Kong Disneyland reopened on Sept. 25 after its initial reopening was halted due to a spike in COVID-19 cases there, and Tokyo Disneyland opened its largest-ever park expansion on Sept. 28.

However, Disney World’s water parks won’t reopen until at least March 2021.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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