LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With large theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood unlikely to reopen until next year, Disney enthusiasts Tuesday blasted the newly released theme park reopening guidelines.
“I think it was the worst possible, sort of, outcome for Disney,” Dusty Sage, Disney expert and super fan, said.
Sage, the editor and chief executive officer of Micechat.com, said his site crashed Tuesday due to increased web traffic after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s theme park reopening guidelines. Sage said he does not expect the park to reopen until spring or summer.
“There were signs that this was coming,” he said. “Disney has been at odds with the state, but this is certainly terrible news for the entire economy of Anaheim and for Disney.”
Paul Sanford, chief executive officer of Wincome Hospitality, which owns the Anaheim hotel, said the concern now is not Disneyland, but the city of Anaheim.
“Over 50% of the general fund for the city of Anaheim, the residents of Anaheim, that pay police and fire and all the city services, over 50% comes from the resort,” he said. “So, how is this thing, on a macro level, how is the city going to survive to lose 50% of its budget?”
And while both Sanford and Sage believe Disneyland will be able to weather the storm, Sage said smaller parks with lower budgets and less to cut might not be able to make it through.
“We may see some parks announce a bankruptcy,” he said. “There might be some consolidation in the industry, and some parks may be lost.”
Just last month, Disney laid off 28,000 employees at Disneyland and Disneyworld. Jonathan Beer used to be a cast member and has been an annual pass holder for years.
“Everything has to be reopened safely, of course, and I also kind of understand that things have been done for the other Disney parks, and other theme parks in other locations, and, you know, it seems to have worked so far,” Beer said. “So while safety is still in mind, I wonder if those practices that have already happened could work here.”
The state’s new guidelines have also put a cap on admission of 25% capacity and limited how parks can operate communal activities.
“Anywhere that guests will congregate will have to change,” Sage said. “So no parades, no nightly fireworks.”
Fall into winter is also the busiest time of year for theme parks with large-scale events usually scheduled from Halloween through the New Year, with ongoing closures creating huge revenue losses for the theme parks and the communities where they’re located.
And it’s not just theme parks that are feeling the pain from the continued closures.
“Today was just the nail on the coffin,” Mike Arfan, owner of Kamel Shuttle in Anaheim, said. “Today, when the news broke, my jaw dropped and I just couldn’t believe that we’re being told that we may not open again until 2021, let alone six to nine maybe 12 months into 2021.
“That puts us at a year and a half possibly of closure,” he continued. “Who can survive that?”
Arfan was planning on celebrating the family-owned business’ 25th anniversary, but instead might be forced to close. He said he’s already had to cut his staff by 98% due to the dramatic drop off in business following the COVID-19 closures.
Pre-closure, he said he had about 500 calls per day for his shuttle service to Disneyland. This entire month, he’s had just 100.
“This is as personal as it gets,” he said. “It can’t get any more personal than this.”