Disneyland reopening in April as 10,000 furloughed employees head back to work

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will reopen in April and recall 10,000 furloughed employees following a year of closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Disney officials.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced during the company’s annual shareholder meeting Tuesday, March 9 that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will reopen in late April.

“Here in California, we’re encouraged by the positive trends we’re seeing and we’re hopeful they’ll continue to improve and we’ll be able to reopen our parks to guests with limited capacity by late April,” Chapek said. “We look forward to publicizing an opening date in the coming weeks.”

California theme parks can reopen on April 1 provided the counties they reside in reach the red/substantial tier 2 risk status of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s updated Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

California theme parks have been closed since March 2020 under COVID-19 health and safety reopening guidelines issued by the state.

“While last week’s announcement stated that theme parks may open starting on April 1, the fact is it will take some time to get them ready for our guests,” Chapek said. “This includes recalling more than 10,000 furloughed cast and retraining them to be able to operate according to the state of California’s new requirements.”

In April, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products furloughed non-essential executives, salaried and non-union hourly employees at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts due to continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disney laid off 28,000 employees in September at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. An exact count of the layoffs at the Disneyland resort was not available, but estimates put the number at approximately 10,000 employees.

About 37,000 Disney employees were on furlough as of Oct. 3, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company.

“I’m pleased to say the response has been great thus far,” Chapek said. “Our cast members are excited to get back to work.”

Anaheim officials said in September that the coronavirus closures of Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center had led to a $100 million shortfall in city coffers.

“This is also good news for the Anaheim community, which depends on Disneyland for jobs and business generated by visitors,” Chapek said.

Chapek did not narrow the opening dates for Disneyland and DCA beyond “late April.” The delayed reopening for Disney’s Anaheim theme parks is not surprising. Disney moved cautiously last summer and reopened its four Florida parks after its rivals.

The Walt Disney World resort deployed a phased reopening plan when the four Florida theme parks returned last summer. Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks reopened on July 11 while the Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks reopened on July 15.

When could Disneyland and DCA reopen?

Disney has announced a DCA food festival that hasn’t begun yet. A Touch of Disney runs on select dates from March 18 to April 19 at Disney California Adventure. Disneyland remained shuttered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disney California Adventure could return to full operation on April 20 after A Touch of Disney concludes. Disneyland could reopen sooner than DCA. Disney could decide to use a phased reopening plan in Anaheim and open Disneyland and DCA on staggered dates.

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