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What’s next for Disneyland? We learned a little more this week

Disney CEO Bob Chapek provided an update on what to expect from Disneyland

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In this March 13, 2020 file photo, visitors take photos at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., the last day the park was open due to the COVID-19 pandemic

In this March 13, 2020, file photo, visitors take photos at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., the last day the park was open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently provided an update on what to expect from Disneyland.

Amy Taxin, Associated Press

Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently provided an update on what’s going to happen with Disneyland when it reopens after the coronavirus pandemic.

Context

Disneyland closed March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s still no idea when the park will reopen. Disney Parks considered opening the park in July 2020 to align with the park’s 65th anniversary, but California did not issue guidelines for its reopening, which stopped the park from having any celebration. California did eventually outline its plan for reopening theme parks. Experts suggested Disneyland would have a difficult time meeting such requirements before 2021.

The latest update

Chapek told Variety he has been “thrilled” with the response from guests about health and safety protocols at Disney theme parks that are open — like Walt Disney World.

  • He said reopening the park depends on vaccine rollout and consumer interest in traveling.
  • However, he said he is happy with the “extremely strong consumer sentiment,” and he expects the “demand is going to rebound quite handsomely.”

Chapek also told Variety the decision to cancel the annual pass membership for Disneyland customers made sense during the pandemic because no one could go to the park anyway.

  • Back in mid-January, Disney announced that Disneyland and the California Adventure theme parks will end their Annual Passport programs due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, as I previously wrote about.
  • The company said those who had annual passports as of March 14, 2020, will still receive discounts on merchandise, food and beverages. Anyone who signed up afterward will see them canceled.

But, Chapek said, more options will be considered in the future.

“In a non-COVID environment, it would have been a pretty tough (decision) to make, because they just keep renewing and renewing, but when you start lapping a year without anybody going for an annual pass program, that gives you the chance,” Chapek told Variety. “We’re going to use that, though, in order to have an even better guest experience at Disneyland and manage the crowd so that no matter what day you go to Disneyland, you can have an extraordinary experience.”

Unanswered questions

Still, Chapek did not give any indication of a reopening date for Disneyland. He also didn’t mention what the reopening would look like or if any major changes to the park would be made to accommodate health protocols.

That said, Disney said it will have a mini reopening in March for a limited-capacity event called “A Touch of Disney,” which I wrote about in a previous article. The park will reopen from March 18 to April 5 for the limited-ticket event, which will give Disney fans an opportunity to visit shops and stores, as well as eat at dining locations at Disneyland and California Adventure Park.