Tens of thousands sign petition to keep Disneyland closed until coronavirus outbreak is under control

Disneyland on March 13.
Disneyland on March 13, just before the theme park closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Tens of thousands have signed an online petition urging Disney executives to keep the Disneyland Resort closed until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 23,000 people had signed the petition, which was started by a user called “We Are Anonymous,” after Disney announced this week that it would start reopening the Anaheim resort in July.

“Many people have lost loved ones due to this pandemic and by reopening the parks they are endangering cast members and guests to be exposed to COVID-19,” the petition says. “There are more cases now than when the parks closed on March 13, 2020. Health officials have stated that the 2nd wave of COVID-19 will be worse. So reopening before the 2nd wave even hits us is irresponsible and greedy.


“I understand everyone is rejoicing for the reopening of the parks but not during a pandemic where people are dying, now is not the time.... The solution would be to reschedule Disneyland to reopen the parks at a later date when cases of COVID-19 drop and health officials state it is safer for everyone but to still practice social distancing.”

The Downtown Disney shopping district is expected to reopen July 9, while Disneyland and California Adventure are expected to open July 17. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel will reopen on July 23, pending government approval. The Disneyland Hotel will open later.

When reached for comment, a Disney spokesperson pointed to a May 5 blog post by Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Pam Hymel.

“In the meantime, our focus remains on the health and safety of the entire Disney community — including the wellbeing of the Cast Members who are caring for and securing our parks and resorts during the closure,” Hymel said in the post.

“We have already implemented a number of enhanced health and safety measures, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in work areas, adjusting practices to promote physical distancing, and providing cast with access to necessary PPE, including face coverings. We continue to learn from these experiences and will carry these lessons into reopening and beyond.”

Comments on the petition page argued that it was too soon to open the park as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Orange County.

On Thursday, county health officials reported 260 new coronavirus infections, the third-most new cases on any day in the county since the pandemic began. The three largest single-day increases have all occurred within the last week.


The cumulative case count as of Thursday was 7,987, with 3,726 of those people having recovered.

“It is much too early to open up a theme park,” Christine Chung said. “Let’s remember that a theme park is not essential! Disney prides itself on putting safety as a priority, yet here they are gambling not just their employees’ and cast members’ lives, but guests’ lives as well. Coronavirus cases are still on the rise and there hasn’t been sufficient testing done. If Orange County residents are threatening and terrorizing health officials over a face mask, then they sure as hell aren’t ready to go to a theme park with a face mask.”

“We’re still canceling graduation ceremonies and can’t go to concerts but we’re supposed to be safer at a resort full of people from around the country (and around the world)?” Johnathan Mendoza said. “Would rather wait for a safe and proper reopening than a half— experience with no entertainment.”

According to a Disneyland official, there will be mandatory face coverings for cast members and guests, a reduction of theme park capacity and all guests will undergo temperature screenings before entering Downtown Disney or a theme park. Cast members will be required to have daily health screenings and temperature checks.

Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine associate professor of population health and disease prevention, said Disneyland can reduce the risk of spreading the virus with these measures.

“I don’t think Disneyland reopening is an absolute catastrophe, but it’s all in the execution,” Noymer said. “It won’t be, verbatim, the Disneyland we knew last summer.”

There are still risks even with these health and safety measures in place.

“Even assuming everyone masks, how do you eat cotton candy or a snowcone through a mask?” Noymer said. “There will be some unmasking, at least partly.”

Brazil writes for Times Community News.