Disneyland is dropping its mask requirement for fully vaccinated guests, according to newly updated guidelines published Monday.
The park says fully vaccinated visitors no longer need to wear face coverings both indoors and outdoors as of Tuesday at its theme park in Anaheim, California. Visitors ages 2 and up who aren’t fully vaccinated will still need to wear masks indoors, except when they’re eating.
Regardless of whether or not they’re vaccinated, all guests ages 2 and up will need to wear face coverings while taking bus transportation from the Toy Story parking lot to the parks once the lot reopens on Friday.
Disney’s new guidelines also mean it will be up to park-goers to “self-determine distancing” after California lifts its physical distancing rules on Tuesday. Disneyland also will stop requiring on-site temperature checks on Tuesday, which is the same day it will start welcoming out-of-state guests.
Disneyland says guests won’t be required to proof of vaccination. Instead, an honor system will be in place in which “vaccinated guests will self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry,” according to the updated guidelines. Reservations will still be required to gain entry to the parks. While booking their tickets, all guests will need to attest that they’re aware of California’s recommendation that people be fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 before entering the parks.
“As more people are vaccinated and the nation is turning the corner on this pandemic, we are encouraged that COVID-19 health and safety guidelines set forth by the CDC and state and local officials are being adjusted and eased,” Disneyland said in its update.
The resort shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Disney announced the layoffs of roughly 30,000 workers late last year as the coronavirus continued to tank park revenue. The park reopened for the first time in more than a year on April 30 of this year.
A specific exemption included in a new law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to draw fire from critics including the Internet Association, an industry group representing 40 of the world’s leading internet companies.
The legislation, SB 7072, was signed by DeSantis on Monday and bills itself as a way to hold tech companies accountable and protect individuals’ ability to post, share, and access content on social media.
The law forces social-media companies to host all candidates for political office in the state, regardless of what they say, or face fines of up to $250,000 per day. In addition, private Florida citizens who feel they have been unfairly treated by the big tech companies will be able to sue the platforms for up to $100,000.
“Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela,” DeSantis said in a statement. “If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
But there’s a massive loophole written into the law that exempts companies that own theme parks in the state.
“Social media,” as defined by the bill, “does not include any information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex.”
In other words, the new law won’t apply to Disney, which operates Disney World in Florida, and Comcast, which operates Universal Studios. And other companies like Facebook and Twitter could avoid liability simply by opening – or simply buying – an amusement park in Florida.
Indeed, one Democratic lawmaker asked that very question in the debate over the bill back in April.
“If Facebook buys a theme park, does that prevent us from being able to regulate what happens on Facebook?” asked Rep. Andrew Learned, according to NBC Miami.
“If they bought a theme park and named it Zuckerland and he met the definition of a theme park under Florida statute, then yes,” Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia replied.
According to the statute, Zuckerland would need to have at least “25 contiguous acres” and serve at least 1 million visitors per year to be legally allowed to ignore the content rules on Facebook.
The bill also requires social-media companies to inform users of what types of content are allowed on their platforms – like the terms of service and acceptable use policies that users already must agree to in order to access their accounts.
Companies would be further required to give notice when changing their policies, like those emails users already get that say “We’re updating our policies.”
If a news story is clearly untrue, but just so happens to come from a news outlet, social platforms would be prohibited from taking steps to make sure the fake news doesn’t go viral, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“We the people are standing up to tech totalitarianism with the signing of Florida’s Big Tech Bill,” DeSantis said on Twitter.
Another law in Texas, Senate Bill 12, echoes much of the language from the Florida legislation, calling for “protection from censorship or discriminatory enforcement of content regulations.”
Florida’s SB 7072 is “more about politics than prevention, as the bill arbitrarily exempts major mass media corporations as long as they are also in the theme park business,” said the Internet Association’s senior vice president of state government affairs, Robert Callahan, in a statement on Monday.
In addition, both the Florida and Texas rules apply only to platforms with more than 100 million users. Parler, a favorite app of conservatives, has just a fraction of that, and a Texas lawmaker’s proposal to have the law apply to platforms with 25 million users was defeated.
“This type of legislation would make children and other vulnerable communities less safe by making it harder for us to remove content like pornography, hate speech, bullying, self-harm images and sexualized photos of minors,” said Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis, in a statement to the Austin Business Journal.
Florida’s measure goes into effect on July 1, 2021.
Disney is planning to expand its California theme park with new rides, restaurants, and attractions – but to do that it says it needs the city of Anaheim to agree to redraft decades-old planning restrictions.
The multiyear expansion, called “DisneylandForward,” was revealed Thursday. The plan is light on details or timings, but could include themed elements based on hit Walt Disney movies like “Tangled,” “Frozen,” and “Peter Pan,” a Disney spokesperson told Insider.
Plans for expanding the 500-acre resort in Southern California come a year after Disneyland was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since the Disneyland Resort closed its park gates to guests,” said a website dedicated to the expansion. “We’ve taken this time to look forward,” the company said.
The naiscent plans could include new theme-park attractions, dining, and retail and hotel space, the company said. The expansion will be paid for privately and Disney will not seek any public funding, the Disneyland Forward website said. Disney also does not intend to request more square footage for hotel rooms.
Before the project can move forward, Anaheim city officials must agree to update planning restrictions from the 1990s meant to guide the growth of the Disneyland resort and surrounding businesses.
“With bold planning and leadership, Disneyland Resort could be poised to grow again, bringing jobs and new lands and adventures to Anaheim,” says a website dedicated to the project.
The city’s mayor had a warm response to the plan, Deadline reported. “I welcome fresh thinking about how the Disneyland Resort evolves and how we best maximize this resource for our city,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement to the news site.
Disney submitted the proposal to the Anaheim City Council on Thursday and the planning and approval process with the city and local community is expected to be completed by 2023, Disney spokesperson told Insider.
The reopening comes with a new theme-park-reservation system that requires visitors to reserve their spot prior to park entry. Reservations are limited because of state COVID-19 guidelines and only California residents may visit the parks for the time being.
Disney World park has been open since July in Florida, where COVID-19 related restrictions are looser, but attendance was lower than expected compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to data published by Deutsche Bank in August.
The company struggled with the financial impact caused by the pandemic. Disney lost $2.4 billion in income in the fourth quarter of 2020 because of park closures.
After shutting its gates a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the US, Disneyland is reopening for business.
The Anaheim, California-based theme park – which includes both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure – will reopen to the public on April 30, Disney announced Wednesday.
To comply with California’s public-health requirements, capacity will be limited and customers will need to reserve a spot in advance. For the time being, tickets and reservations are only available to California residents. Disney said the first visitors invited back will be members of the local community.
In early March, California announced revised COVID-19 guidelines that allows amusement parks and stadiums to reopen April 1, provided they aren’t located in one of the state’s highest-risk zones. Those rules permit theme parks to reopen at 15% to 35% capacity with mandatory mask-wearing and other precautions in place.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek previously said during a conference call that it would take some time for the company to get its California parks back up and running after the long shutdown. Reopening the parks will mean bringing back more than 10,000 furloughed employees, Chapek said.
Disney has a clear incentive to reopen its parks as soon as public-health guidelines allow. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the company lost $2.4 billion in income due to park closures.
The company’s Disney World park in Florida has been open since July, given that COVID-19 restrictions have been less stringent in the state.
Disney’s chief executive on Tuesday gave some indication as to when the company’s flagship theme park will reopen.
During Disney’s annual shareholders meeting, CEO Bob Chapek said the company hopes to welcome guests back to Disneyland by “late April,” without giving a specific date.
“Here in California, we’re encouraged by the positive trends we’re seeing and we’re hopeful they’ll continue to improve and we’ll be able to reopen our Parks to guests with limited capacity by late April,” Chapek said.
Chapek said Disney will share an official opening date in the coming weeks.
The announcement came days after California issued new public-health guidelines that allow theme parks to reopen starting April 1 with mandatory mask-wearing, limited capacity, and other precautions so long as they aren’t in one of the state’s highest-risk zones.
The state’s theme parks have been closed since March 2020, and Chapek said it will take Disney some time to get things back up and running.
“The fact is it will take some time to get [the parks] ready for our guests – this includes recalling more than 10,000 furloughed Cast and retraining them to be able to operate according to the State of California’s new requirements,” he said.
The company reopened Florida’s Disney World in July, however, since COVID-19 restrictions have been much more relaxed in the state. Disney has a clear incentive for opening its California parks as soon as possible – closed theme parks cost the company $2.4 billion in operating income during the fourth quarter of 2020.
Walt Disney shares climbed to their highest on record Monday after California set out guidelines for businesses to reopen theme parks following their closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state’s Health and Human Services agency on Friday said additional activities will be permitted at amusement and theme parks beginning on April 1 based on a four-tiered system.
Investors started the week by pushing Disney shares to an all-time high of $203.02. The stock ended the session up by 6.3% to $202.02. Volume of roughly 24 million shares was stronger than average daily volume of 12.3 million shares.
Companies can open their parks with various capacity limitations only if the counties in which they operate are not under the state’s most restrictive “purple” tier which indicates widespread COVID-19 transmissions.
Under the least restrictive “yellow” tier, larger parks can open with capacity limited to 25%, with reservations or advanced ticket sales required.
Disney runs Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.
Disney shares led gainers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed up more than 300 points at 31,802.44.