Disneyland reopens after more than a year of closure

  • Disneyland has finally reopened after 13 months of closure.
  • It is admitting only state residents and operating at only 25% capacity. 
  • California was one of the US states with the highest cases of coronavirus infection. 

Disneyland has reopened its gates to state residents after a 13-month closure. 

The world-famous theme park’s reopening marks the dramatic turnaround in the state that was overwhelmed with coronavirus cases just four months ago. 

Excited guests wearing Disney gears were greeted by employees, hand sanitizing stations, and signages reminding them to wear face coverings.

Libby Birmingham, 38, who spent most of the previous year teaching her third-grade class from her backyard, was thrilled to be back to the park which she frequented before the pandemic. The Pasadena-based teacher took the day off from work to visit the theme park with friends, where she can be a kid and not be in charge of kids. 

The reopening marks a big shift for the state which was surging with Covid-19 cases just a few months ago, with hundreds of people dying from the virus daily.

Now, California has its lowest rate of coronavirus infections, and more than half of the residents eligible for vaccination have gotten at least one dose. In-person school classes have resumed, shops and restaurants are opening, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has set further reopening of the economy, with some health-related restrictions, for June 15. 

Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of state tourism promoter Visit California, says Disneyland California’s reopening is symbolic of how the state is finally rolling out of Covid. In the state, theme parks were among the last businesses allowed to reopen, while some major theme parks in the country have reopened since last summer. 

Wearing face masks is mandatory at Disneyland, and visitors can only remove them in designated areas. Hugging or handshaking with characters is not allowed, and parades and fireworks shows have been suspended to control crowds. Waiting lines were methodically spaced to prevent indoor congestion. 

A couple got engaged near Snow White’s wishing well, while parents were more than delighted to bring their children back to the theme park. 

California is still discouraging non-state tourists from visiting but it is encouraging its nearly 40 million residents to travel within the state. According to the Themed Entertainment Association, the theme park has nearly 19 million guests in 2019. 

For now, Disney California parks are allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity and are only admitting state residents, though non-state residents who are fully vaccinated are also allowed to attend theme parks.

The reopening was good news to park employees and owners of hotels and shops in Anaheim. 

At an early morning flag ceremony, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek asked the employees to “bring the magic back” for visitors who were restricted during the 13-month closure.

“We’re not just another theme park,” said Chapek. “We’re something special, and we’re something special because of all of you, because you bring magic to the world.”

Source: NBC News

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