Governor Newsom Discusses Why California Theme Parks Can’t Reopen Despite Reopenings Elsewhere

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park remain closed at the moment, and hotel reservations at Disneyland Resort are only available beginning in mid-November.

Disney California Adventure

Earlier today, California’s Governor Newsom held his weekly press conference, gave some general COVID-19 updates, and also answered a question regarding why many theme parks in California can’t reopen yet, despite reopenings of other theme parks around the world.

California recently released its theme park reopening guidelines, which specify that large theme parks, like Disneyland, can only open once the county they’re located in reach the Yellow (or Minimal) tier in California’s tiered system. Currently, Orange County, where Disneyland is located, is in the Red or “Substantial” tier.

Screenshot from

During today’s press conference, the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services, Dr. Ghaly, announced the counties that would be moving from one tier status to another. Orange County was not listed therein, meaning that it will remain in the Red or “Substantial” tier for now.

Screenshot from Press Conference

Governor Newsom also discussed some COVID-19 matters during today’s conference. Specifically, he said that they are seeing California’s COVID-19 positivity rate starting to “trend slightly up.” According to Newsom, New hospitalizations and ICU admissions in California are also starting to moderately increase. He said that the state is monitoring the situation closely as it moves forward.

Positivity Rate

Following the updates regarding California’s wildfire situation and more COVID-19 related news, Governor Newsom answered a few questions from reporters. One reporter in particular said that “[t]here’s a lot of frustration and anger, especially in Anaheim, with folks who say…’look, Disney parks have opened all over the world and they’re doing okay, why can’t we do this here?'” 


The reporter noted that this frustration isn’t just coming from people who work at theme parks, but also “people who have businesses nearby that are having to shut down [and] city officials who are losing a lot of tax revenue.” So, the reporter asked Governor Newsom, “What do you say to those folks? Why can’t we do this here?” Meaning, why can’t we open large theme parks in California?

Health and Safety Sign at California Adventure

Governor Newsom responded to the question by first noting that “we’re seeing an increase in the transmission rates of COVID-19 in the vast majority of states in this nation” as well as increases in certain rates around the world. Newsom said we should be concerned about “opening up a large theme park where, by definition, people mix from every conceivable walk of life and put themselves and others at increased risk of seeing transmission rates rise related to COVID-19” in light of these increases in COVID-19 numbers, increases in hospitalization rates, and concerns regarding the winter season where people will be spending more time indoors and potentially mixing with others.

Disneyland Park Social Distancing Markers

Newsom also indicated that there are lots of different theme parks in California, including smaller ones, ones that run convention centers and hotels and restaurants and are essentially whole cities on their own, and others that are located on California’s beaches and boardwalks. Newsom said guidelines and responses have to be designed “in a way that addresses those unique dynamics,” while still keeping “our eyes wide open on where we are as it relates to this pandemic — the hospitalization numbers here in the state of California, the ICU numbers here in the state of California, now beginning to trend back up,” the approaching holidays, and concerns of a second wave of COVID-19.


Governor Newsom did, however, acknowledge that Disney isn’t like other theme parks. As indicated above, the reporter’s question mentioned Disney specifically. Newsom noted, “You bring up one particular operator of a theme park that does things very, very differently than other operators of other theme parks.”

Health and Safety Digital Sign at Downtown Disney

Newsom also said he understands “as someone with 4 young kids the reverential identity they have with one particular brand that you are identifying and their desire to be entertained, and…the desire of those that rightfully want to get their jobs back and to get back to some sense of normalcy.” He concluded by noting though that California, “as a state, are going to be driven by data and science, and we’re going to be driven by public health first.”

Disneyland Ears!

Following the release of the guidelines, Disneyland’s President, noted that Disney has “proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world. Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact.” Some have even indicated that Disneyland would be lucky to see a summer 2021 reopening.


It does appear, however, that Disneyland is starting to adjust some of its plans as it has announced that it will be reopening part of Disney California Adventure for some shopping and dining later this year. We’ll be keeping an eye out for more updates regarding Disneyland, so be sure to come back for more updates.

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