A coalition of mayors from Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego and other big cities across California have called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen Disneyland, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and other large theme parks in the state.

A letter from eight California mayors asks the governor to modify state guidelines released as part of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and allow large theme parks to reopen in the orange/moderate tier 3 rather than the yellow/minimal tier 4. The eight include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

“We are concerned that the state’s guidelines would push reopening of large theme parks up to a year out, which would have significant negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of jobs, thousands of small businesses and billions in operating revenue for our cities,” according to the mayors’ letter.

Recently released COVID-19 reopening guidelines issued by the state keep large theme parks closed until their counties reach the yellow/minimal tier 4 risk level — which could leave major players like Disney and Universal unable to return until early 2021 or next summer.

California officials issued separate coronavirus reopening guidelines for small and large theme parks in the state. Small theme parks with a capacity of less than 15,000 visitors can reopen in the orange/moderate tier 3 while large theme parks can return in the yellow/minimal tier 4.

The letter, released by California Attractions and Parks Association, was signed by mayors from the Big City Mayor’s Coalition representing some of the largest cities in California.

The Sacramento-based CAPA represents Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and California’s Great America.

CAPA has taken issue with Newsom’s suggestion that Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld San Diego and other California theme parks would not take a health-first approach to reopening based on data and science.

“We continue to ask the administration to share any data or science related to theme parks that they are using to inform their decision to keep the major theme parks closed indefinitely while allowing similar venues to reopen,” CAPA executive director Erin Guerrero said in a statement.

State officials visited Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Pacific Park, Disney World and Universal Orlando to review COVID-19 health and safety measures before issuing the California guidelines. Theme park officials say they have not seen the state reports regarding the Florida and Southern California trips.

Cities across the United States and around the world have allowed theme parks to reopen while striking a “difficult balance” between protecting public health and allowing safe economic activity, according to the mayors’ letter.

“To the extent that your health care officials have seen different data, we would appreciate understanding it, because we want to be supportive of your efforts,” according to the mayors’ letter.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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