Anaheim officials were excited about Friday’s reopening of Disneyland for its economic boost not only for the city, but for all of the theme park’s connected businesses in its neighborhood.
The reopening of Disneyland, which was shut down in March of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “is a monumental day for Anaheim,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said.
“We’ve seen the return of fans to Angel Stadium, the Honda Center, and we’re now hosting youth sports at the Anaheim Convention Center, but, of course, Disneyland is so big and so significant.”
The closing of Disneyland last year “brought home how serious the pandemic was,” Lyster said. “So its reopening comes as the brightest moment in the last 14 months or so as cases are coming down and vaccines are coming up.”
Orange County Board Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, who represents the theme park, said the reopening is “very uplifting.”
“My goodness, jobs are coming back,” he said. “Businesses that feed off Disney will be able to start up again, and at night we’ll see Snow White’s Castle light up. Wow, that’s a beacon. We love it. It’s an inspiring sight.”
The nightly fireworks show will be considered for a return down the road and is not in the cards now because of the concern it would inspire crowds that are being discouraged to better conform with social-distancing protocols.
“This is a monumental day for Anaheim,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said. “We have all missed the joy of Disneyland, and we’re so glad to have that back. But this means so much more to working families, small businesses and our city. The impact of having the theme parks closed for more than 13 months due to the pandemic has been devastating. This begins our economic recovery and brings hope back to Anaheim.”
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the theme park’s reopening “is a good sign for Orange County heading into the summer months. We’re starting to see the benefits of widespread vaccination of California as a whole. … We think it’s a good opportunity to start reintegrating those elements of our economy. … We’re a tourism-based economy and we need to find a way to safely reopen those opportunities to recover.”
The reopening will especially benefit the hotels around the theme park, Lyster said.
The city has about 75 hotels, and half of them have been closed for the past year, Lyster said.
“The other half have been scraping by with minimal occupancy,” Lyster said. “We now have heard some could be near full over the next few days.”
Disneyland, which is open only to Californians for the time being, draws many visitors from the Bay Area, Lyster said.
“Probably number one year-round is Northern California,” Lyster said of out-of-town guests. “We welcome that. We know it will generate hotel stays for us.”
Lyster was able to take a sneak-peek visit to the theme park this week and was struck by the number of social-distancing markers around Disneyland.
“The first thing you really notice from the minute you walk in is the floor markers everywhere,” Lyster said, adding there are many employees available to guide visitors.
Also, all of the waiting for attractions and rides is done outdoors, Lyster said.
“On the rides yesterday I had a rocket to myself on Space Mountain,” Lyster said, noting the limited capacity of 25%. “More commonly it will be you in front and another party in the back.”
“There were also many more employees dressed as popular Disney characters to help create atmosphere since there will be no parades for the time being,” Lyster said.
“It’s a lot brighter,” Lyster said. “The ride before was a little dark. But it’s noticeably brighter and newer.”
The classic attraction features new music, LED black lighting and a new animation system, officials said. It also has about 50 new figures.