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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of California Theme Park Guidance

California has released guidance for the opening of theme parks in the state. Much of the content of the guidance document remains unchanged from what the original plan was rumoured to be.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights:

  1. Smaller parks (those with a capacity under 15, 000) can open in Orange Tier, subject to a long list of requirements including guest residency in the same county as the theme park. Larger scale theme parks (Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure included must wait until the Yellow Tier). This means that an opening of Disneyland's 2 theme parks must wait until Orange County meets the requirements of the Yellow Tier.

  2. When Disneyland is finally able to open, there are a series of requirements that it must meet in order to comply with the guidelines, and will be subject to inspection by Public Health officials to ensure that it complies.

Park Capacity Requirements

Park capacity will be restricted to 25%. Indoor dining and drinking establishments are also limited to 25% capacity within the theme park. Unlike smaller theme parks, there is no residency restriction unlike smaller theme park guidance requires.

Face Masks Will Be Required

As expected, face masks must be worn by guests and Cast Members at all times, except in designated areas (such as while eating or drinking).

Employees (Cast Members) Require COVID-19 Training

The guidance document outlines a series of training requirements for Cast Members on COVID-19. Mandatory screening is required for all workers and vendors before coming to the theme park to start their shift.

Theme Parks Must Have a Reservation System for Guests to Enter the Park

Theme parks must have a reservation system in place for all guests to be able to enter the park. This is similar to the current one in place at other Disney Parks with one very BIG exception. Theme parks in California will be required to contact guests 24 hours prior to their reservation (by phone, email, text message) to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. If a guest reports that they are showing COVID-19 symptoms, they must be advised not to come to the park and be denied entry. This will clearly require changes to the current reservation system in place at other Disney parks.

Park Guests Must Be Temperature and/or Symptom Screened for COVID-19 Symptoms on Arrival Before Entry

Temperature screenings are common at other Disney Parks and those systems will likely be adopted at Disneyland.

Signage on COVID-19 Rules Must Be Placed In Theme Parks and Staff Present to Enforce Rules

Signage on COVID-19 rules must be placed at entrances, along with strategic and high-visibility areas and staff assigned to enforce those rules. Guests refusing to comply with the rules must be removed from the theme park.

Cleaning Protocols

There are numerous cleaning protocols for all high-touch areas as well as recommendations to minimize touch surfaces for guests and Cast Members.

For performances, there are strict cleaning protocols between each performance of the stage and items used such as microphones. Additionally, there are specific rules for character and other costumes and Cast Member uniforms.

Park Entry and Ticketing Requirements

There is a numerous sets of guidance and recommendations for park entry and ticketing. These include touchless scanners and clear plastic bags as part of security screening recommendations to all-inclusive ticketing (food and admission) and staggering ingress (entry) of guests.

Attraction Requirements

There are numerous attraction requirements, including the need for all queues to attractions being socially distanced outside (there is no indoor queueing permitted) with impermeable barriers on switchbacks and other queueing systems.

Riders must wear face masks at all times and if there is a safety risk or risk of face masks coming off, that attraction must remain closed. There must also be a strict cleaning regimen in place, including the hand sanitizing/washing where gates are manually closed each time before the ride attendant can move onto another task. The control panel of all attractions must also be cleaned regularly and between operators.

Guests for a single party can ride without social distancing but other parties must be socially distanced. The use of single rider lines is discouraged.

Performances Should Be Limited Each Day and Cleaning Occur Between Each Performance

In the case of a performance, there should be a limited number of performances held each day to allow for cleaning between each performance. Seating must be socially distanced during performances.

This is a brief summary of the rules and is not exhaustive by any

You can view the full set of guidelines here.

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