A few dozen Disneyland enthusiasts and cast members gathered outside the park on Saturday to protest the continued closure, which has led to the loss of more than 28,000 jobs in both Disney’s U.S. theme parks.
Disneyland has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Walt Disney World in Florida reopened with reduced capacity in July. The United States has reported more than 8.1 million cases and 219,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.
“Cast members do not want to lose their dream job,” Natasha Ramirez, co-organizer of the protest, told the United States TODAY. “It’s better to have Disneyland open like everyone else is and let the cast members choose whether or not to return, instead of not having a choice at all and being fired.”
As one protester wrote, “If the other parks have opened safely, why can’t Disneyland do the same?”
USA TODAY has reached out to Disneyland for comment.
Some protesters who took Mickey Mouse masks or headbands to the mouse ear had signs urging the park to be reopened with Disney references. “Ask the guards to open the gates,” read a sign with a quote from “Frozen.” “Oh bother! Why is Disney still closed?” asked another with a picture of Winnie the Pooh.
Ramirez, a former cast member, launched the protest along with Desi d’Amani, who was one of the thousands of Disney workers fired last month. It started with the two inviting a few other cast members to hear the support of thousands of people through a Facebook event.
“We started this event in response to the dismissal in hopes of getting Disneyland reopened so that no more layoffs happen and so that those who were recently fired can possibly go back,” Ramirez added.
Although some on social media criticized those who protested as people who just “miss taking pictures at Disneyland,” Ramirez maintains that it was not the spirit of the event.
“People … think we just want Disneyland open so we can buy a churro,” she said. “The cast members, who are the people we did it for, have reached out to thank us because they want to go back to work, and those who still have a job there will not lose theirs.”
The group is currently discussing plans for another protest, the date of which has not yet been set.
When will Disneyland reopen? Disney smashes California’s governor after slowing down the reopening of California’s theme parks
Earlier this month, California Gov. Govin Newsom said Disneyland and other surrounding major theme parks would not reopen anytime soon. The state “is not in a hurry to draw up guidelines,” he added, referring to the rules that theme parks should need to function safely as the pandemic continues to rage.
The statement marked a turning point from last month, when Newsom said he expected the guidelines to be issued “very, very briefly” as the state negotiated with the industry.
“In the short term, we do not expect any of these major theme parks to open until we see more stability,” Newsom told a news conference.
A trade group representing theme parks, the California Amusement and Parks Association, said there is no reason for attractions to remain closed when there is ample evidence that they can be reopened safely.
“We find it worrying that Governor Newsom has no scheduled timeline for issuing guidance to theme parks, and is very concerned that he does not expect theme parks to open soon,” wrote CEO Erin Guerrero.
Disneyland and Anaheim officials have been trying to increase pressure on Newsom to issue the guidelines. “Once a date and these guidelines are set, I can tell you we’re ready,” said Josh D’Amaro, president of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Roger Dow, CEO of the American Travel Association Trade Group. , in August.
Contribution: Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
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