Pressure continues to build on Governor Newsom to take action to resuscitate the ailing convention and tourism sector.
Yesterday, Disney publicly called on the Governor to issue re-opening guidelines for theme parks. The Disneyland Resort and other California theme parks have been closed for more than 6 months, and are one of the few economic sectors foe which Newsom has failed to issue re-opening guidelines.
Josh D’Amaro, chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products division, held an online press conference to ask the Governor to treat theme parks like every other sector fo the economy that has been permitted to re-open.
“Help us reopen,” said D’Amaro, noting that 80,000 jobs in the region depend on the Disneyland Resort being open. “The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact will be for Orange County.”
“We are ready to open and we hope to have guidance from the state soon,” said Patrick Finnegan, vice president of Disney’s California Adventure.
The closure of the Disneyland Resort – Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure -has had a devastating impact on Anaheim. 15% of residents are out of work. With the Resort closed, hotel occupancy has plummeted and revenue from Transient Occupancy Tax and sales tax – which accounts for half the city;s general fund revenue – along with it. The Anaheim Resort Area’s six month closure has led to a city budget deficit of $100 million.
The Disneyland Resort employees more than 30,000 cast members – approximately 5,000 of whom live in Anaheim. None of them have worked at the parks since mid-March.
Resort Area Mayors, Business and Labor Leaders Demand Re-Opening
Last week, the mayors of Anaheim, Garden Grove and Buena Park – the three Orange County cities most seriously impacted by the Disneyland Resort closure – held a press conference calling on Governor Newsom to allow the immediate re-opening of the Resort. They were joined by representatives of business and labor.
“What we once thought was a brief pause in our economy is now going on half a year,” Mayor Harry Sidhu said. “26,000 Anaheim residents are out of work. Many are struggling to pay the rent and feed their families.”
Referring to the city’s yawning budget deficit, Sidhu said, “Every week are theme parks and Convention Center are closed, it threatens our ability to provide for public safety, community services and fix our streets.”
“The time to issue guidelines for theme parks is now,” said Sidhu.
Steve Jones, the mayor of Garden Grove, described the damage the closure has done to his city’s financial situation.
“Disneyland and the entire Resort area is critical to the economic well-being of Garden Grove,” said Jones. “The closure of Disneyland has been disastrous for my city.”
“The COVID-19 shutdown has hit our city’s budget hard,” said Jones. “TOT revenues have dropped by 60 percent.”
LA/OC Building and Construction Trades Council Vice President Ernesto Medrano spoke at the event. Medrano is also chari of the Disneyland Craftman’s Council, which represents 1,400 cast members in 12 skilled trades.
“We believe safeguards and health protocols are in place to do [safely re-open],” said Medrano. “The skilled trades and essential workers have rapidly adapted and learned how to work with the safety and healthy measures implemented during the pandemic.”
“The devastation is real here,” said Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President Todd Ament. “There are tens of thousands of people that are out of work and want to go back to work. We have companies that kept people on and kept them on healthcare, with the hope of re-opening.
“That hope is fading,” said Ament, “If we don’t get some guidelines, we’re going to see the unemployment numbers in this region likely double.”
“We need guidelines. We need a plan,” said Ament. “And we need confidence for our business community and our residents who work in this sector.”