Disney officials Friday announced they will reopen some stores and restaurants in the Disney California Adventure park starting in November, despite the continued closure of the theme parks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reopening of businesses along Buena Vista Street, the main drag at the opening of California Adventure, is a sort of expansion of Downtown Disney businesses, which reopened in July.
“It could show how they could reopen the parks,” said Mike Lyster, a spokesman for Anaheim. “We welcome this plan to expand.”
The social distancing and other measures taken at Downtown Disney “shows how you can safely and responsibly open the park,” Lyster said. “This is another example of that.”
Disney has clinicians from Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian who check temperatures of guests at Downtown Disney, and if there is an indication of fever, they take them into a tent to let them cool down and check the temperature again, Lyster said. If the guest continues to show a high temperature, then they counsel them on symptoms of COVID-19 and recommend they talk to a doctor, he said.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said that despite the theme park’s closure, this expansion plan is acceptable.
“It’s not a gray area — it is permitted,” Kim said.
Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park has done something similar, opening up the theme park for just shopping as rides and other live entertainment remains shut down, Kim noted.
“Knott’s Berry Farm consulted us before and we gave them some guidance on it, and I think Disney is doing something very similar,” Kim said. “You can treat it like an outdoor mall, and that is not a gray area. What you can’t do is have live entertainment and large crowds. But if you treat it like an outdoor shopping venue, I think you can do it.”
The stores to reopen are Elias & Co., Julius Katz & Sons, Kingswell Camera Shop, and the eateries to reopen are Trolley Treats, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, Carthay Circle Lounge and Smokejumpers Grill, according to Disney.
Cal State Fullerton economists forecast a grim picture going forward if Disneyland remains closed into next year.
Economists Anil Puri and Mira Farka forecast that if Disneyland remains closed through next March, it will lead to 33,200 jobs lost in the county and 46,100 jobs gone in Southern California; along with a $3.4 billion dropoff in income in the county, and $5 billion for Southern California. The economists say the figures do not include lost tax revenue for cities such as Anaheim.
“By August, the situation was improving, but the county was still almost 200,000 jobs below the pre-COVID-19 level, with certain sectors lagging behind, most notably leisure and entertainment, which was recently impacted by Disney’s decision to lay off 28,000 workers, including a majority of their part-time cast members,” according to the CSUF forecast.
“A third of these job cuts are expected to be at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim,” according to the report. “Though a majority of these jobs may be for part-time workers, the impact will be felt widely by businesses in the area. This will further add to the woes of the Orange County economy while adversely affecting tax revenues of the surrounding cities, especially those of Anaheim and Garden Grove.”
The closure of Disneyland and California Adventure through September led to a loss of $2.1 billion for the county and $3 billion to Southern California.