Newsom: California ‘getting closer’ on how and when to reopen Disneyland and other theme parks

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California is “getting closer” to reopening Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other theme parks in the state after nearly six months of coronavirus closures.

Newsom commented on his discussions with major California amusement park operators during a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“Conversations are ongoing, just as a reminder, for theme parks, amusement parks and the like,” Newsom said.

Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, Six Flags Magic Mountain and other California theme parks closed in mid-March amid the COVID-19 pandemic and remain shuttered indefinitely while they await state guidelines for safely reopening.

Newsom announced on Tuesday that Orange County, the home to Disneyland and Knott’s, moved from the most restrictive Tier 1 “widespread” risk level to the next lower Tier 2 “substantial” risk level.

Theme parks were not included in the business sector guidance list released in late August by Newsom’s office that detailed a new four-tier system. The revised Blueprint for a Safer Economy lays out criteria for loosening and tightening COVID-19 restrictions in California counties.

Negotiations regarding COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for California theme parks are “making progress,” according to Newsom.

“There are still many areas where we are open-ended in terms of our negotiations,” Newsom said during the press conference. “Making progress and advancing in the same space. Getting closer to concluding when and how to safely reopen those sectors.”

Determining how and when to reopen California theme parks will be guided by COVID-19 epidemiological data for the state, according to Newsom.

“The epi data shows us the way and provides us the capacity to make determinations,” Newsom said during the news conference. “We will make those determinations in real time.”

Theme parks and other sectors will be placed in the state’s four-tier system based on their ability to reduce COVID-19 risk factors, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly.

“As we move forward, we’ll consider the placement of some of these various sectors throughout our different tiers as we begin to develop increasing information about how each of these different sectors can reduce risk,” Ghaly said during the news conference.

Some California theme parks have come up with creative ways to partially reopen amid the pandemic.

SeaWorld San Diego reopened in late August with Zoo Days: Bayside BBQ and Brews event featuring zoo exhibits, stadium shows and a food festival while rides remain idle.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo reopened the Marine World Experience in early July with animal exhibits and shows while keeping its amusement park areas closed.

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park began a series of food, beer and wine events in mid-July while keeping its theme park rides and attractions closed.

The San Diego Zoo and its Safari Park reopened in late June.

Other California parks have given up hope of opening this year.

California’s Great America in Santa Clara canceled plans to reopen for the rest of 2020. Raging Waters water park in San Dimas canceled its summer season.

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Author: Brady MacDonald

Mercury News Business