Disneyland Resort in California is planning to furlough more employees and has canceled all reservations through the end of 2020 due to the uncertainty of the state’s reopening schedule for large theme parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is with heavy hearts we find ourselves in the untenable situation of having to institute additional furloughs for our executive, salaried, and hourly cast,” Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said in a letter to employees on Nov. 9, and obtained by multiple news outlets.
No details were given about the number of affected employees. The announcement comes about a month after Disney announced it would lay off about 28,000 employees from its theme park division, or more than 12 percent of the company’s workforce.
“We expected to be able to open our parks in Anaheim, given our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols as we have in all of our other theme parks around the world, but unfortunately this has not been the case,” Potrock said in the letter.
The three hotels at the Disneyland Resort—the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa—have started canceling all existing reservations through Dec. 31. Previously, Disneyland was canceling reservations week by week.
However, the company’s Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will reopen to members on Dec. 6.
“During this initial phase, the Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will be open only for Members. The rest of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will remain closed,” the Disney Vacation Club stated in a Nov. 9 update on its website.
Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park were shut in mid-March and are expected to remain closed until Orange County reaches the “yellow” or least restrictive tier in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy guidelines. Officials say that could happen by next summer, but there are no guarantees.
Meanwhile, Downtown Disney has begun a phased reopening, with an expansion of available restaurants and retail stores along Buena Vista Street at the Disney California Adventure park planned for Nov. 19.
Taking Advantage of Break
On Oct. 30, eight mayors from some of the state’s largest cities sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging him to consider allowing large theme parks to reopen more quickly.
The mayors of Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, Riverside, and Santa Ana signed the letter, which praised Newsom for “prioritizing public health and safety for guests and employees.”
“However, economic and public health are not mutually exclusive goals,” the letter reads.
The mayors asked Newsom to let theme parks open when counties reach the “orange” or third tier in the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system, instead of the higher yellow tier.
They acknowledged significant restrictions would be in place in the parks, such as a 25 percent capacity limit, required advance reservations, mandatory mask-wearing with strict enforcement, and temperature screening at entrances.
“We are concerned that the state’s guidelines would push re-opening of large theme parks up to a year out, which would have significant negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of jobs, thousands of small businesses, and billions in operating revenue for our cities,” the mayors wrote.
Meanwhile, inside the theme parks, a number of attractions have been undergoing construction or maintenance during the nearly eight-month closure.
The King Arthur Carrousel, one of the first rides available at Disneyland Park’s initial opening in 1955, is being refurbished. Walt Disney had originally been inspired to create the park after watching his own daughters ride a merry-go-round at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
Gadget’s Go Coaster in Mickey’s Toontown also is being refurbished.
Splash Mountain is being redesigned with a theme from the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog,” set in New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. However, construction hasn’t begun.
At Disney California Adventure, the new Avengers Campus is now under construction, featuring the Avengers Headquarters building, Dr. Strange’s Sanctum, and Web Slingers, a new Spider-Man attraction.