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Matterhorn at Disneyland

Theme parks in Florida have already begun to reopen with smaller parks having opened over this past weekend, and Universal Orlando Resort already slated to throw the gates open June 5. However, in the U.S.'s west coast theme park mecca, Southern CA, things have been a bit more hazy. There had previously been no indication when theme parks would even be allowed to open in California, as the guidelines for the different phases didn't specifically call out theme parks. But now we know that parks like Disneyland will be allowed to open during California's Phase 3 protocol, and Phase 3 isn't that far away.

California broke its reopening plan into four phases, though Phase 1 was essentially total lockdown and Phase 4 is complete reopening. The question was whether theme parks would be able to open during Phase 3, when "higher risk" businesses would be allowed to open with some modifications for safety, or if the parks would need to wait until Phase 4, when large crowds would be able to gather as they once did. State officials recently confirmed to the Orange County Register that Disneyland and other California theme parks will all qualify under Phase 3 assuming they take the proper precautions.

What's more, California Governor Gavin Newsom has gone on record to say that Phase 3 is close, perhaps as little as a month away. According to the Governor...

Phase 3 is not a year away. It’s not six months away. It’s not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away. We just want to make sure we have a protocol in place to secure customer safety, employee safety and allow the businesses to thrive in a way that is sustainable.

This still doesn't really tell us exactly when Disneyland and other parks will be opening their door, but it gives us a window, which is certainly more than we had. The main determining factor is Phase 3 happening is seeing COVID-19 cases in the state and hospitalizations from the virus, showing a positive trend.

The next question is how much lead time parks like Disneyland will have in getting ready for reopening. Will they need to wait for the Phase 3 go ahead before beginning to bring cast members back and begin training them for reopening, or will they be able to start that process early so that once the Phase 3 bell gets rung, Disneyland can immediately reopen?

Disneyland has been taking reservations at its properties for dates from July 1 forward, and it looks like that date is, while far from set in stone, probably a good ball park for at least when wheels will start turning. The park probably won't be open July 1 but it feels like putting money on Disneyland Resort being open, to limited capacity, by the end of July would be a safe bet.

Whether we'll see Downtown Disney, the marketplace area, open early is unclear but it's possible the state could give the go-ahead to that area opening to limited guests before the parks themselves are open, as happened in Florida. Disney could even make that call to open the area first just as a way to slowly reopen and help control crowds.

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