Disneyland reopens after 1.3-year closure
Anaheim, California: Disneyland, California's world-famous theme park, will reopen to visitors on Friday after a record-breaking 13-month closure, in what tourism officials hope will be a sign of the state's recovery from the pandemic.
The announcement comes as California has the lowest rate of reported coronavirus infections in the US, with more than half of those eligible for vaccination having received at least one dose.
After making several postponements throughout the course of the Pandemic last year, the entertainment retreat announced its last final date of reopening Friday in March this year.
It's a big shift from December when hospitals all over the state were running out of ICU beds and treating patients in overflow facilities.
For the time being, the park is only open to in-state tourists and has a restricted capacity, the Associated Press reported.
To avoid overcrowding, reservations are needed, hugs and handshakes with Mickey and other characters are prohibited, and the famous parades and fireworks shows have been canceled.
Classic rides like Space Mountain and Dumbo the Flying Elephant are set to reopen at Disneyland. However, the park will be altered, with masks required and no live theatre performances planned.
According to Baker, this is how Disney started out at its Florida theme park, eventually phasing out entertainment.
According to the Themed Entertainment Association, Disneyland is a major economic driver in California, attracting nearly 19 million visitors the year before the coronavirus hit.
Four months ago, the nation's most populous state was fighting a coronavirus outbreak that crammed patients into outdoor tents and infected hundreds of people every day.
"It has such a symbolic nature to really quantifying that we're finally rolling out of COVID," said Caroline Beteta, president, and CEO of the state tourism agency Visit California.
Theme parks were among the last business entities in California to reopen, with Universal Studios and others have already done so.
In comparison, states with fewer constraints, such as Florida, have had Disney World's Magic Kingdom resort open since last July, albeit at a lower-than-normal capacity.
Another big U.S. amusement park, Cedar Point in Ohio, opened last summer and will do so again this year, but it will not need masks on rides or outside where crowds can be avoided.
The Associated Press noted, while the state of California continues to "strongly discourage" outside tourists from visiting, the travel industry is betting on pent-up demand from the state's 40 million people.
A new ad campaign urges Californians to fly within the state, echoing a pitch made after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"We're back to that playbook," Beteta said. "It was very successful for us then, and we're hoping it will be for us now."