Open up Disneyland for the sake of the cast members

Amaris Menjivar, Reporter

Disneyland and California Adventure have now been closed for over half the year after shutting down operations in March. This has left thousands of park employees out of a job and cost the City of Anaheim millions.

CNBC reported that in the third quarter Disney “reported a steeper loss of $3.5 billion,” as a result of resort closures.

In addition, according to a ABC7 article in September, the Anaheim Chief Communications Officer, Mike Lyster, said the City of Anaheim could see a $100 million budget deficit.

While not all of that revenue comes directly from the resort, the drop in tourism has affected hotels, restaurants, stores and other businesses in the area.

In late September, Disney announced that they would lay off 28,000 employees throughout their parks as well as their Entertainment and Products division, with the majority being Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort cast members.

If Gov. Gavin Newsom had provided theme parks with reopening guidelines, thousands could have kept their jobs and contributed to rebuilding the economy.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. began its phased reopening of parks on July 11.

They introduced a series of new health and safety measures that strive to protect guests and cast members, which allowed many to get back to work.

These new safety practices include mandatory mask-wearing, temperature checks upon entering some locations, social distancing markers for ride and restaurant lines, as well as hand washing stations located throughout the park. There is also a 25% capacity set for the number of guests allowed at once.

These procedures have allowed cast members to return to work and visitors to reschedule their trips, which has helped prevent similar mass layoffs.

Alicia Figueras, a current Disneyland annual passholder and student at Moorpark College, said she would feel safe returning to the parks should they receive state clearance.

“I would be safe going… I think Disney does a real good job… they want to keep Disney parks open and they will literally do anything to have the opportunity to reopen,” Figueras said in a phone interview.

Based on my own recent trip to the Downtown Disney District, I know I would feel safe returning to the park as well. The cast members make sure guests comply with the rules and will approach them to explain why this is important. 

Some cast members want to get back to work as well. On Oct. 16, cast members and supporters held a rally outside the parks urging for them to reopen and for the government to grant permission immediately.

According to an article by CBS Los Angeles, about 40 people gathered to share their frustrations regarding the lack of reopening plans.

Jennifer Grafius, a long-time Disney fan, told CBS Los Angeles that the reopening of Florida parks has shown that people can and will follow all guidelines required to attend the parks.

Walt Disney World parks currently have many measures in place in aim to protect cast members.

They have provided staff with masks and placed plexiglass dividers at service counters. All nighttime spectaculars and parades have been cancelled to prevent large crowds from gathering and an online reservation system has been applied to track attendance as well as gather visitor information. They have also stopped character meet and greets and photo opportunities to minimize contact.

When entering the parks, there is a contactless system which scans tickets or MagicBands as the guest walks in and flashes a green light. 

These actions allow staff and visitors nearly contactless entry.

The closure of the California parks means there is an entire industry that can no longer contribute to the state’s economy. It also means thousands of people no longer have a job or healthcare to fall back on.

Walt Disney World Resort is vastly larger than Disneyland, so if they have succeeded in Orlando, then it is possible to conduct this on a smaller scale and have similar results.

Disney World’s actions display care and consideration for the health of cast members and guests to offer some magic amid what seems like a horror story.

While many may deem opening Disneyland as a superficial request in the face of a crisis, it is important to consider how cast members will benefit from it. 

As an annual passholder myself, I want to enjoy a day where the country’s current issues aren’t at the forefront of my mind, but I also care deeply for those that make it happen. Disney cast members play such an important role in the creation of lifelong memories.

“The cast members have always been here to support us and they make us have a good time. We need to support them. It’s our turn to be out here hitting the pavement to get their jobs back,” Grafius said.