After initially issuing a brief statement this afternoon on the developments of theme parks reopening in California, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock has since followed up with more detailed thoughts. He continues to be candid regarding the challenges the company has faced in the past year and continues to face going forward.
A year ago, the thought of Disneyland Resort closing for 12 months seemed unimaginable. Yet here we are — although instead of marking a grim milestone, we are encouraged by today’s news from the state as we await specific guidelines. Due to our perseverance and collaboration with state leaders, we now believe we have a path to reopen this spring. As you know, it will take some time for us to ramp back up, but I am certain that we will come back stronger than ever! We look forward to sharing an opening date soon.
Potrock continued a tone reminiscent from last year when Disney went on the offensive regarding the decision to lay off record numbers of its Cast Members, shifting part of the blame on California’s communication on reopening timelines.
While we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, I want to acknowledge how difficult the last year has been. This pandemic has taken a devastating human toll…both in terms of lives and livelihoods, and I empathize with the personal pain so many have experienced. Shortly after closure, we furloughed nearly all of our cast members. A few months later our decision-making went from difficult to heartbreaking when, due to a lack of clarity about when we could reopen, we were forced to lay off thousands of our cast. We recognize that the year-long closure of the Disneyland Resort also means many local businesses are shuttered and their employees currently are out of work. Tens of thousands depend on us for employment…and the significance of this is not lost on me or any Disney leader. And we are heartened that our reopening will be the beginning of recovery for so many.
With goal markers in view, Potrock also looked forward to the future and goals to not only responsibly reopen its theme parks but also re-emphasizing their unique position as an “unprecedented economic engine.”
As we move forward, our mission as an organization has shifted. First, nothing is more important than getting people back to work in an environment that promotes health and safety. And we couldn’t be more excited to begin to bring many of our cast back.
Second, we have long touted the fact the Disneyland Resort is the unprecedented economic engine within the region, driving tourism and tax revenue for vital services. This is a responsibility we take seriously and embrace heartily. We will continue to find ways to work effectively with local residents, city and county leaders, resort Area businesses and nonprofit organizations. I am proud of how cast members have rallied around the community throughout our closure and heartened that we have been able to donate millions of dollars in surplus toys, 200 tons of product to food banks to feed those in need, and much-needed protective equipment including N-95 masks to first responders…and there are many other support efforts by both the company and our cast beyond those listed.
Finally, when we will fully reopen we will do so in a responsible way and showcases our multifaceted capabilities, just as we have at our other parks around the world. We’ve already begun to do this with a stair-stepped approach. In July, we reopened the Downtown Disney District and followed with additional shopping and dining on Buena Vista Street. Later this month, we will debut “A Touch of Disney,” a ticketed experience at Disney California Adventure park, and based on the enthusiastic response from our guests when tickets went on sale, we know they are eager to get a dose of Disney magic. What’s more, this experience enables us to bring back more than 1,000 cast members. As we responsibly reopen Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks and our hotels once again, we look forward to welcoming back thousands more.
Drawing on a less-oft used quote from Walt Disney, Potrock continued:
Walt Disney once said, “The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.” A cynic might say that lately there has been little to be grateful for. But I’m an eternal optimist and the past months have helped me be even more laser focused on what I am most grateful for… our community, our guests and our cast.
Keying in on those three passion points, he elaborated:
To our community: For 65 years Anaheim has been our home, and together we will rebound. Never has a strong community been more critical and we will continue to find ways to invest in the city, bring back tourism and strengthen our valued relationships. Thank you.
To our guests: You are the reason we exist and we miss you. You motivate us to continue to innovate and provide a cherished place to make memories with your loved ones, and we are humbled to play such an important role in your lives. Thank you.
And especially to our cast: You have always been, and most definitely still are, the soul of the Disneyland Resort. I could not be prouder of the countless ways you’ve supported each other throughout this crisis. For those who have been working to maintain the magic and preserve the place that Walt Disney himself built, I know how seriously you take that responsibility and I appreciate your resilience, optimism and continued passion. And to those who have been patiently awaiting news of our reopening, I am grateful for your continued dedication, grace and never-ending support. I have every confidence that our comeback will be legendary — and I can’t wait to celebrate together.
Although state guidelines indicate theme parks could reopen as early as April 1, 2021, Disneyland Resort as well as competitors including Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and others have yet to commit to reopening dates.
Reopening California theme parks will align with California’s tier system which is coordinated directly with the state’s case numbers of COVID-19 infection. Restrictions life as counties change into safer tiers but for now all indoor dining at theme parks will remain restricted in addition to expected limits on indoor attractions.