Disney eyes July restart for California theme parks

By: AFP      Published: 03:07 PM, 11 Jun, 2020
Disney eyes July restart for California theme parks

Disneyland in California announced plans Wednesday to reopen next month -- but at "significantly limited" capacity, and with no opportunities to hug Mickey Mouse or high-five Donald Duck for the time being.

Under the plans -- which still require government approval -- the resort near Los Angeles, including Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, would welcome visitors back beginning July 17. 

Disneyland is the world's second-most visited theme park, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each day, but it closed in mid-March due to coronavirus concerns.

The move comes on the heels of the successful reopening of Shanghai Disneyland last month, and follows a similar timetable to the restart of Disney World in Florida, which has already received government approval.

Theme parks provide a significant portion of the Mouse House's revenue. Last month, Disney said the division's quarterly operating income fell 58 percent from a year earlier, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When the California parks reopen, all guests will need to book reservations in advance, and social distancing measures mean no parades or "nighttime spectaculars" until a later date.

"While character meet-and-greets will be temporarily unavailable, characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests," Disney said in a statement.

Hotels at the site would reopen the following week under the scheme.

The plans were unveiled as calls on social media and a Change.org petition grew for Disney's parks to rebrand their "Splash Mountain" rides. 

The popular log flumes are based on the controversial 1946 Disney film "Song of the South" -- a movie long accused of peddling racist tropes about the post-Civil War South, and never released on home video in the United States.