Disney, Universal and SeaWorld officials say Southern California theme parks are ready to reopen as soon as the state issues guidelines for safely swinging open the gates of the major tourist destinations.
Executives from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld said California theme parks were “ready to roll” during a theme park roundtable in Orlando on Wednesday, Aug. 26 led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Disney, Universal and SeaWorld officials used the Florida roundtable as an opportunity to gently but firmly remind California Gov. Gavin Newsom that their theme parks in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties are “ready to go” after more than five months of coronavirus closures.
California theme parks closed in mid-March amid the COVID-19 pandemic and remain shuttered indefinitely while they await state guidelines for safely reopening. Disney, Universal and SeaWorld have reopened theme parks in China, Japan, Singapore, France, Florida and Texas following extended coronavirus closures.
“Disneyland has been ready to roll since July,” Disney World’s chief operating officer Jim MacPhee said at the roundtable.
Disneyland is awaiting guidance and reopening protocols from Newsom and California state officials, MacPhee said.
MacPhee’s statement about Disneyland’s readiness to reopen echoed a similar sentiment from Disney parks chairman Josh D’Amaro during an interview with the U.S. Travel Association.
“We don’t have any California guidelines for opening,” D’Amaro told the U.S. Travel Association. “As soon as a date and those guidelines are set, I can tell you we’re ready.”
Disneyland looks forward to working with state and county officials on a reopening plan.
“Our theme parks remain closed, and once we have a clearer understanding of when theme park reopening guidelines will be released from the state of California, we will be able to work with the state and Orange County Health Care Agency towards a reopening date,” according to Disneyland officials.
Universal has reopened theme parks in Japan, Singapore and Florida that were closed by the pandemic. Universal Studios Hollywood is the company’s only theme park that remains closed.
“We’re ready to go,” Universal Orlando CEO John Sprouls told the roundtable about Universal’s California park. “We’re just waiting for the opportunity to do it.”
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment has fully reopened SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio as well as Busch Gardens Tampa with reduced attendance capacity.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia has partially reopened with a limited-time Coasters and Craft Brews event. SeaWorld San Diego is preparing to partially reopen for a limited-time Zoo Days: Bayside BBQ and Brews event on Friday, Aug. 28.
“As I talked to folks in other states, one of the things I really like to point to is the success that the state of Florida has had with reopening,” SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson told the roundtable. “That goes a long way with some of the states to say, ‘Here’s a state that’s doing it, opening theme parks and doing it the right way and finding that people are coming out and we can do this safely.’ So we appreciate that. That’s going to help us hopefully get the rest of these parks open over time.”