Many of us heard the concerns of the community regarding reopening Disneyland, and the subsequent, successful request to push back its opening date. As a Cast Member approaching my 3rd year of seniority, I want to voice an underrepresented population of the frontline Cast community.
Disney's desire to reopen the park is appropriate and necessary. Since the park's opening in 1955, the parks consistently recognize and implement measures to ensure the highest degree of safety. Since Disney is a leader for positive change in the community, the Disney Parks were the first theme parks to close with the outbreak, and continue to remain cautious when it will be one of the last theme parks to reopen. Disney reached an agreement with the unions and promised a workplace that retains its consistently high standards. Due to lockdowns, there’s been an unprecedented disruption in economics and society. Depression, suicide, domestic abuse rates, divorces, and other “deaths of despairs” that disproportionally affect lower/middle class and millennials and Gen Z have skyrocketed. Congress injected trillions into the economy, but this spending is not sustainable- unemployment checks are running dry. We Cast Members don't just want to work, we NEED to. However, some of us are immunocompromised and/or live in multigenerational households. In these situations, we legitimately cannot go back to work and need continued assistance until there's a vaccine or an equal alternative.
More than ever perception is reality, even if the perception is untrue. We perceive theme parks like Disneyland to be the busiest places on Earth from our experiences, but if we reopen here in California, the reality is that there will be strict attendance limits and social distancing measures like in Florida. If theme parks and businesses can operate responsibly, and demonstrate a strong focus on protecting their employees and guests, they should be allowed to operate. As Robert Niles stated in Theme Park Insider, “Can't Disney wait until it's safer? Sure, it could - but, please, tell me exactly when that will be? What happens if there is no vaccine? What happens if there is, but it's less than, say, 50 percent effective, and millions of Americans continue to be infected? What happens if the vaccine works, but it's priced at $1,000 a dose, and a majority of Americans either can't afford or refuse to get it? What happens if the vaccines work and it's affordable, but it takes years to get enough doses to distribute it to a critical mass of Americans?” These are all real possibilities, and in order to ensure the survival of a beloved cornerstone of American culture, theme park operators need to operate in this environment until we have a better alternative. In Florida where theme parks have operated since the beginning of summer, Dr. Raul Pino, the Orange County Health Official from Florida, has found no direct correlations or outbreaks reported from any of the parks.
It doesn’t need to be saving the economy versus lives, or Republicans versus Democrats. It’s easy to classify choices as binary, but it doesn’t have to be that way as Dr. Fauci told PBS earlier this month. This crisis has become politicized beyond belief- let's start looking at the objective statistics and historical data. We don’t need a full lockdown if we can ensure universal masks and enforce social distancing/sanitization protocols- Disney World has successfully ensured both, and Disneyland will improve upon Disney World's success. If we make the right calls and our community follows along, we can save both.