California Disney theme parks to reopen in April

Bob Chapek, the CEO of American entertainment giant Disney, said that he expects the company’s theme parks in the US state of California to reopen by late April.

During the 2021 annual meeting of shareholders on Tuesday, Chapek noted Disney was “encouraged by the positive trends we’re seeing” in California, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We are hopeful they’ll continue to improve and we’ll be able to reopen our parks by late April… We look forward to publicising an opening date in the coming weeks,” he said in a statement.

Theme parks, including Disneyland, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Southern California, have been closed since March 2020 amid coronavirus fears.

California authorities announced last week that theme parks and stadiums in the state will be allowed to reopen as early as April 1 with capacity restrictions and other safety modifications.

According to the updates of the state’s Blueprint to a Safer Economy unveiled by the California Department of Public Health, theme parks in the counties in the purple tier, the most restrictive tier, are not allowed to reopen.

But theme parks in the red tier will be eligible to reopen at 15 per cent capacity.

Maximum capacity will be increased to 25 per cent for theme parks in the counties in the orange tier and to 35 per cent in the yellow tier.

Almost all Southern California counties are still in the purple tier, but some of them, including Orange County where Disneyland is located, are on track to move into the red tier in the coming weeks as Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations continue to drop in the region.

Chapek applauded the new guidelines in the statement on Tuesday.

“While last week’s announcement states that theme parks may open starting on April 1, the fact is it will take some time to get them ready for our guests – this includes recalling more than 10,000 furloughed cast and retraining them to be able to operate according to the State of California’s new requirements.”

Disney has been adversely impacted by the pandemic.

The company said that since the second quarter of fiscal 2020 and continuing into fiscal 2021, the pandemic and its related restrictions have impacted their segments in a number of ways, most significantly at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

In the most recent quarter that ended on January 2, the pandemic had cost Disney parks, experiences and products segment an estimated $2.6 billion in operating income, while segment revenues decreased by 53 per cent to $3.6 billion.