ANAHEIM, Calif. — Theme park fans in the state can now circle April 30 on their calendar.
After being closed for more than a year, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will reopen on April 30, Disney officials said Wednesday. The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is also slated to reopen the day before, on April 29. The hotel and both theme parks will reopen with limited capacity, officials said. For now, only California residents will be able to visit the parks.
"The day all of us have long been waiting for is almost here," Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, said in a statement. "We're excited to have more than 10,000 cast members returning to work as we get ready to welcome our guests back to this happy place."
The reopening date announcement comes more than a year after the coronavirus pandemic shut down theme parks across the state as part of a statewide effort to slow the spread of the virus.
The shutdowns to Disneyland and other theme parks resulted in tens of thousands of employees being laid off or furloughed. Hotels and businesses that relied on the millions of visitors Disney and other theme parks attract suffered heavy financial losses and, in some cases, closed.
Most of last year, the state faced immense pressure from theme park operators, union officials, and city leaders to release guidance to reopen theme parks, which are tourism magnets and significant economic generators in their respective cities. Walt Disney World and other theme parks in Florida remained open at a limited capacity.
But as coronavirus cases rose, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials rebuffed those calls.
With the vaccine for COVID-19 being rolled out and positive coronavirus cases going down, state officials, earlier this month, revised its shutdown rules and allowed theme parks in the state to reopen again starting April 1.
Under the new guidance, theme parks can reopen at 15% capacity when their home county reaches the red tier, 25% in the orange tier, and 35% in the yellow tier.
Orange County, home of Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, hit the red tier earlier this week.
Disney officials did not release a date when customers can start buying tickets and how much a daily pass will cost.
Disney said they plan to introduce a new reservation system to manage attendance and comply with state health rules and social distancing guidelines. The details of this new reservation system will be available soon.
One thing is clear: Disney officials are expecting high-demand. Disney's Touch of Disney food and beverage event at Disney California Adventure, which runs from March 18 to April 19, sold-out all of its dates on the first day the $75 per person tickets were made available.
"We've seen the enthusiasm, the craving for people to return to our parks around the world," Chapek told CNBC. "We've been operating at Walt Disney World for about nine months, and there certainly is no shortage of demand."
"I think as people become vaccinated, they become a little bit more confident in the fact that they can travel, and, you know, stay Covid-free," he said. "Consumers trust Disney to do the right thing, and we've certainly proven that we can [open] responsibly whether it's temperature checks, masks, social distancing, [or] improved hygiene around the parks."
Disney officials said the Disneyland Resort's other hotels, the Disneyland Hotels and Paradise Pier, will reopen later.