Disney‘s decision to reopen its theme parks in California and Florida this July has already come in for criticism, including from an online petition. Disneyland was planned to be opened through a staggered process, beginning on July 9th and ending on July 23rd. However, union members have now added their voice to safety debates, and are demanding that the park remains closed for theirs and others’ safety.
A call has been made by 17,000 Disneyland cast members via the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions through a letter urging them to reconsider opening the main Disneyland Park on the planned date of July 17th. The letter is clear that staff don’t feel the COVID-19 pandemic has eased enough to make it safe to bring people back into the parks, even with new safety measures and social distancing protocols.
Here’s how it reads:
“Disney wants clearance from the government to reopen the Disneyland Resort in July. Unfortunately, despite intensive talks with the company, we are not yet convinced that it is safe to reopen the parks on Disney’s rapid timetable…We are not yet satisfied that it is safe to reopen the resort. There are numerous questions about safety which Disney has not yet answered. Disney has rejected or not yet responded to important safety proposals made by CRLU member unions. Therefore, at this point we do not know if the resort can be operated safely.”
The last point on safety is perhaps the most worrying, especially considering that trying to run a theme park without crowding is already a steep challenge to overcome. Disneyland have issued their response to the unions, and had this to say about their commitment to safety for staff and visitors:
“The safety and wellbeing of our cast members and guests are at the forefront of our planning, and we look forward to continued dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following guidance from public health experts, which we plan to implement as we move toward our proposed, phased reopening.”
It’s difficult to know, at least at this stage, whether Disney are prepared to take a gamble on safety in order to reopen their lucrative theme park enterprises. For a company who, like many others right now, have to deal with a blown theatrical release schedule, getting parks back in action is arguably key to avoiding significant losses.
Even when the parks reopen, though, visitors will have a different experience than before, with Walt Disney World likely to be running under normal capacity, and with numerous health and safety warnings about COVID-19. Some analysts have also suggested that Disney World will be harder hit by the lockdown and reopening, as the Florida park relies more on international and out-of-state visitors.
At present, Disney World should start reopening from July 11th, while other parks like Universal Orlando are already back in business, albeit with the same warnings over safety. Disneyland will likely follow suit as planned, although they now have the additional problem of coming to a solution with their unions.
What do you think about Disneyland reopening, though? Do you feel that it’s safe to go to theme parks? As always, let us know in the comments section below.