Oct 18, 2020
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A few dozen Disneyland enthusiasts and cast members gathered outside the park Saturday to protest its closure, which has meant the loss of more than 28,000 jobs across both of Disney's U.S. theme parks.
Disneyland has been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Walt Disney World in Florida reopened with reduced capacity in July. There have been more than 8.1 million cases and 219,600 deaths in the USA, according to Johns Hopkins data.
"Cast members don't want to lose their dream jobs," Natasha Ramirez, co-organizer for the protest, told USA TODAY. "It's better to have Disneyland open just like all the other ones are and allow the cast members to choose if they want to return or not, instead of not having a choice at all and being laid off."
As one protester's sign read, "If the other parks have opened safe, why can't Disneyland do the same?"
USA TODAY was unable to reach a Disneyland representative for comment.
Disneyland has been closed since the middle of March.
Some protesters, donning Mickey Mouse masks or mouse-ear headbands, held signs with Disney references. "Tell the guards to open up the gates," one sign read, quoting a line from "Frozen." "Oh bother! Why is Disney still closed?" another asked with a picture of Winnie the Pooh.
Ramirez, a former cast member, launched the protest along with Desi d'Amani, one of the thousands of Disney workers laid off last month.
"We started this event in response to the layoff in hopes of getting Disneyland back open so no more layoffs will happen and so that those who were recently laid off might be able to go back," Ramirez said.
Though some on social media criticized those protesting as people who just "miss taking pictures in Disneyland," Ramirez maintains that wasn't the spirit of the event.
"People ... think we just want Disneyland open so we can go buy a churro," she said. "The cast members, who are the people we did it for, have been reaching out to thank us because they want to go back to work, and the ones that still have a job there don't want to lose theirs."
The group is discussing plans for a second protest, a date for which has not been set.
When will Disneyland reopen? Disney slams California governor after he slows reopening of California theme parks
This month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Disneyland and surrounding large theme parks wouldn't reopen anytime soon. The state "is in no hurry in putting out guidelines," he said, referring to the rules that theme parks would need to operate safely as the pandemic rages.
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The pronouncement marked a turnabout from last month, when Newsom said he expected the guidelines to be issued "very, very shortly" as the state negotiated with the industry.
"We don't anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger theme parks opening until we see more stability," Newsom said at a news conference.
A trade group representing theme parks, the California Attractions and Parks Association, said in a statement there's no reason for the attractions to remain closed when there's ample evidence they can reopen safely.
"We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon," Executive Director Erin Guerrero wrote.
Disneyland and Anaheim city officials have tried to step up pressure on Newsom to issue the guidelines. "As soon as a date and those guidelines are set, I can tell you, we’re ready," Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney's parks, experiences and products unit, told Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association trade group, in August.