Disneyland closure extended for months; businesses face bankruptcy


Theme park operators in California say that they will not be able to reopen until next summer, the result of strict regulations imposed by the state this week in the Covid-19 crises.  That includes Disneyland.

In a statement released to the news media, Disney Resort President Ken Potrock said, “These state guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community.”

Orange County Health Director Dr. Clayton Chau said that with the new guidelines announced this week, it is possible that Disneyland and other large theme parks in California may not qualify to reopen until there is a vaccine, adding that may not be until next summer.

The news, while disappointing to fans of Disneyland, is seen as a devastating blow to the hundreds of businesses and their employees in Anaheim which viewed Disneyland as a secure stream of customers and revenue.

Since Disneyland shut down operations in mid-March, some nearby businesses have closed, others say they cannot make it past December.

“We might not make it the next six months if Disneyland doesn’t reopen,” said Jocelyn Campos whose family has run Big Bertha’s Pizza near Disneyland for generations.  “Realistically, probably in eight months we’ll be gone.”

The story is the same for many businesses along Harbor Boulevard, the main entryway to Disneyland.

“This once vibrant alive area is like a ghost town.”  That’s the view of Mike Afram who owns Karmel Shuttle Service.   “The phones are silent, nobody’s here,” stated Afram as he looked out over his empty office complex. More than 120 employees have been laid off as he has seen his business plummet.

Before Disneyland closed, Afram said he would do nearly 500 transports each day.  Now, he says, it is down to 150 per month.  And he doubts he can make it beyond December.  Through tears, he says, the result has been personally devastating, emotionally and financially.  “It affected my family directly because I would go home in a very depressed state and I did not have the heart to sit and talk with them and tell my daughters what was happening.”

The situation is so dire that Orange County Supervisors are talking about bankruptcy.  It is a fate that businesses, many owned by families, fear.  Though Walt Disney proclaimed Disneyland “the happiest place on earth,” today it is filled with sadness.  And as Jocelyn Campos said, while Big Bertha’s Pizza will continue to fight, right now there is not a lot of hope.  “It’s really sad to think that we might not be here.”

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