ANAHEIM, Calif. - Disney's CEO Bob Chapek said Tuesday that he is aiming to reopen its California theme parks with limited capacity by the end of April, and that thousands of furloughed employees will return to work.
The specific reopening date for Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Park was expected to be announced at a later date, but Chapek said he does not anticipate being ready to open by the April 1 date California officials set in the state's COVID-19 reopening guidelines.
"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 -- we look forward to publicizing an opening date in the coming weeks," Chapek said during Disney's annual meeting of shareholders.
Just last week, state health officials announced new guidelines for the reopening of amusement parks and other outdoor activities. Beginning April 1, counties within the state’s "red tier" in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy can reopen amusement parks and attendance at outdoor sporting events with limited capacity.
Orange County is currently in the most-restrictive "purple" tier, but it is expected to advance to the "red" tier as early as next week.
However, Chapek said, "the fact is it will take some time to get (the parks) ready for our guests."
He added that Disney will need to recall more than 10,000 furloughed cast members and retain them to be able to operate according to the state's new requirements.
"I am pleased to say the response has been great thus far, our cast members are excited to get back to work," he said. "And this is also good news for the Anaheim community, which depends on Disneyland for jobs and business generated by visitors."
When the parks reopen, they will do so under strict capacity limits. While Orange County is in the "red" tier, the parks will be limited to 15% of overall capacity. When the county advances to the "orange" tier, capacity will be increased to 25%, and in the least-restrictive "yellow" tier, capacity of 35% will be allowed.
Only in-state visitors will be allowed at the theme parks.