On Wednesday, the California Attractions and Parks Association (CAPA), a theme park trade group that represents Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and other Californian theme parks, announced new guidelines for theme parks that are due to reopen beginning April 1st.
Face masks will be required in most areas of the parks, with designated eating and drinking areas being notable exceptions. Physical distancing and limited capacities will also be followed, with household group physical distancing being implemented by CAPA in all parks. As all counties with applicable theme parks are currently in the red tier of reopening, all parks will also be limited to 15% capacity, with only California residents being allowed to be admitted in.
However, the most controversial new CAPA reopening guideline stems directly from the revised blueprint saying that there is a need to limit activities that cause increase COVID-19 spread, including singing, shouting, heavy breathing, and being in loud environments will cause people to raise their voice. This would be applied directly to riders on rides where shouting is normally expected, such as roller coasters, with new spaced seating plans to help mitigate any other possible spread.
However, while CAPA has said that new seating plans, such as having all guests face the same way on a ride and having spaces between seats, would be needed under the CDPH’s blueprint criteria, they did note on Wednesday that screaming on rides would not be banned outright.
“California’s amusement parks are excited to responsibly reopen under the recently released state guidance,” said CAPA executive director Erin Guerrero in a statement on Wednesday. “These guidelines do not require parks to prohibit screaming.”
CAPA parks to reopen soon, Disneyland on April 30th
The added precautions, as well as the time needed to bring parks up to new health and safety requirements, have pushed many CAPA parks to announce reopening dates beyond the April 1st tier reopening date. On Wednesday, Disney announced that both Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure would reopen on April 30th to 15% capacity due to Orange County being in the red tier.
Disney, which fought hard to reopen for much of 2020, said that, despite the reduced attendance, 10,000 of it’s 32,000 laid off employees would be returning to work after over a year since last stepping foot in the parks.
“The day all of us have long been waiting for is almost here,” said Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock on Wednesday. “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.”
Returning employees also noted that, despite the significant changes, they were ecstatic to be back.
“We made it,” said “Jack,” a Disneyland cast member, to the Globe. “It was tough. Real tough. A lot of us had to go on unemployment, get lower paying jobs, and do all sorts of odds and ends to make it, but we did.”
“Right now, most of us are of the attitude that if we have to kick out a guest because they screamed on a ride, so be it. We’ll follow all the new rules they give us. Masks, gloves, whatever. We’re just back to work in Disneyland. Any cast member will tell you the same. We love it that much.”
Other theme parks in red tier counties are expected to unveil opening dates soon, with all expected to follow the new CDPH blueprint criteria and CAPA guidelines to reopen.