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The Wind in the Willows

Disneyland Resort is ready to reopen. That's what anybody within Disney's Parks division will tell you if you ask. All the other Disney theme parks around the world are open and while places like Walt Disney World may not be as successful financially as they'd like to be, there have been no virus outbreaks traced to the parks. With that track record Disney believes it can open Disneyland safely, but the state of California's guidelines for theme park reopening makes it clear that large parks like Disneyland will not be able to reopen for some time, and now the parks are considering filing a lawsuit.

In a press conference given by California Attractions and Parks Association executive director Erin Guerrero (via OC Register), the head of the trade organization representing California theme parks, said that the parks are considering legal action in order to gain permission to reopen. In Guerrero's words...

I think that all options are open at this point. We’re going to continue to explore our options.

California's new guidelines for theme park reopening require that, for large parks like Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood, the county where the theme park is located must reach the "minimal" risk level, the lowest of four tiers of risk as defined by the state. Orange County, the home of Disneyland is currently in the "substantial" tier, the second-highest designation. Universal Studios Hollywood is in Los Angeles County, which is still in the highest possible tier, "widespread."

Under the guidelines, smaller theme parks could open to a maximum of 500 people if their county is in the "moderate" tier but only guests who live in the same county would be admitted.

Officials from the California Attractions and Parks Association as well as the various theme parks it represents made it clear during the press conference that everybody is interested in continuing to work with the state to find some sort of compromise, but clearly, there's a feeling that the current guidelines are simply asking too much and if the state isn't willing to come down from the current expectations, the parks could sue the state to get the right to reopen. It seems unlikely that risk levels will drop to the levels necessary until sometime in mid-2021.

The question then becomes, if a lawsuit is a possibility, how long will the parks try to work with the state before moving forward with legal action? The guidelines from California saw their release delayed once after parks made it clear they weren't happy with the requirements, and yet when the guidelines were finally made public, the parks still weren't happy. It's unclear what, if any, changes the guidelines actually saw in that time. If California was willing to release the guidelines without the approval of theme parks, it seems unlikely the state would be willing to change course now.

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