When Disneyland reopens next week, it will do so to a significantly more limited crowd than it is used to. Not only will the park only be able to open to about a third its maximum capacity, but only guests who live in the state of California will be able to visit. There are certainly a lot of people outside of California who are looking forward to the day they too will be able to visit the happiest place on earth, but that day doesn't appear to be coming quickly-- despite a recent rule change in California that led to a lot of confusion.

An addendum to California's current guidelines that was made last week reads that “fully vaccinated persons from out of state may visit or attend activities or events that are restricted to in-state visitors.” That led some to believe that theme parks could be available to out of state guests that had received their doses of vaccine. Sea World in San Diego officially changed its rules to allow out of state vaccinated guests in their park. However, there was still a lot that was not clear. The feeling was that since "theme parks" were specified in other parts of the guidelines, and the term was not used here, simply the generic "activities or events," that theme parks did not qualify under this change. Sea World, depending on your perspective, could be classified as a zoo or aquarium, and so might have been in a unique position.

For most of the day yesterday nobody was quite sure what was going to happen or what the rule really was. However, Nextar's Scott Gustin, who covers the theme park industry, was eventually able to confirm two things. First, the change in California guidelines does apply to theme parks, so out of state vaccinated visitors are allowed, but also that Disneyland would not be amending its rules right now, so vaccinated guests from out of state are not allowed at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure.

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Disneyland clarified its rules before the state of California clarified the rule change, but the decision appears to stand, at least for the moment. Having said that, Disneyland Resort did not hit (current) maximum capacity with the ticket purchases from in-state guests only, so there is room for those vaccinated out of state guests if and when Disneyland is ready to let them in, so it does seem like that will probably happen sooner, rather than later.

At the same time, it makes some sense that Disneyland would want to take things slow. While the resort has been closed for over a year and certainly wants to get back to business, there's some value in not rushing into things just because you can. Cast members are back at work for the first time in a long time, and with a host of new rules they need to manage. Taking some time for everybody to get used to the current situation when crowds are as small as they can get away with is maybe not the worst choice.

If nothing else, one wonders if this might actually help people get vaccinated. If you live outside of California but you really want to go to Disneyland, getting that vaccination will almost certainly get you there sooner, it seems clear that those that can prove vaccination will be let in before the general public.

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