One year after Disney shut its doors indefinitely, laying off tens of thousands of staff, Disneyland will reopen on April 30th, the company announced today. That’s four days before Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth”) and apparently just in time for fans to grab the elusive Galaxy’s Edge spork. (The flagship “Rise of the Resistance” ride also barely opened at Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge before the pandemic began, so expect that to be popular.)
Mind you, the COVID-19 coast isn’t completely clear yet: Disneyland and its neighbor, Disney’s California Adventure, will be operating at 15 percent capacity, CEO Bob Chapek tells CNBC. Masks will be required for everyone over the age of two, there’ll be some temperature screenings, Disney is also introducing “a new theme park reservation system” for every single attendee — and only California residents can visit, per state guidelines.
Two weeks ago, California cleared the way for theme parks like Disneyland to open as early as April 1st, with as few as 15 percent or as many as 35 percent of their maximum visitors allowed into the park, depending how bad the COVID-19 risk is in the area. Orange County, where Disneyland is located, has been in the highest-risk “purple” tier. Technically, Disneyland will offer some limited guided tours, dubbed “A Touch of Disney,” starting tomorrow, March 18th.
Why is Disneyland reopening when big geek gatherings like San Diego Comic-Con, E3, and Anime Expo have been canceled? Well, the company’s been arguing for months that Disneyland is less of a risk because it’s largely outdoors, which makes sense. It also doesn’t hurt that California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been under tremendous pressure to reopen Disneyland, among other businesses, in no small part because he was caught dining out at a famously expensive restaurant, sans mask, late last year.
“It’s a big moment for Disney’s return to normalcy,” my colleague and Verge resident Disney expert Julia Alexander tells me, pointing out how Disney’s parks are the “safe” revenue for the company. In February, Disney said it believed its parks division lost $2.6 billion due to COVID-19 during the last quarter alone.