Disneyland Reopens After California Lockdown Measures Lifted
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
There have been very few times in history that Disneyland has closed. It closed to mourn JFK when he was assassinated. It closed after the Northridge earthquake in California and closed for the weather a couple of times, also 9/11. But over the decades, that was it.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Until last March, when it shut down for over a year. It reopens to the public for the first time again today.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
MARTIN: That's the sound of the famous Disneyland train pulling into the Main Street station on a preview day for employees this week. The staff were all masked and standing socially distanced on the sidewalk, clapping as the gates finally reopened.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Wow. They're all clapping for us.
ROBERT LAIRD: I can't wait to just be there and feel it and listen to the music and smell the churros.
INSKEEP: Robert Laird hosts a Disneyland fan site called DAPS MAGIC. Back in 2020, when he heard the park was about to close, he paid a final visit.
LAIRD: The whole day was just kind of grey and drizzly. And they did this wonderful thing where they brought out a bunch of characters right by the entrance. And then a bunch of cast members, managers, executives were there. And everybody just waving goodbye as people walked out. You saw the streams of people just walking out. That's the moment I think of when I think of Disneyland closing.
MARTIN: They expected it to reopen a couple of weeks later. But that didn't happen. Disney laid off over 30,000 employees at its U.S. parks last year. That includes over 11,000 employees at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Many staff members are reportedly still waiting to get back to their jobs.
INSKEEP: OK. Disney World, which is in Orlando, Fla., did reopen last July, which is why my little brother has been able to go. But California's lockdown measures kept Disneyland in Anaheim closed.
LAIRD: I can remember the day it closed thinking it's just going to be a couple of weeks. And that's going to be odd. And now it's 14 months later. And those couple of weeks seem like a lifetime ago.
INSKEEP: Laird will be at the park this morning, bright and early, a few hours before it reopens.
LAIRD: And I think there will most likely - I don't know if it'll be for me. But I guarantee, in our family, there will be tears at some level. And, you know, I can actually feel my heart speeding up as I'm just thinking about it (laughter).
MARTIN: Park capacity is capped at 25%. Tickets are reserved for California residents for now. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is going to have to wait to get back to the happiest place on Earth.
(SOUNDBITE OF DISNEYLAND PARK'S "MAIN STREET USA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.