Point / Counterpoint: Should theme parks re-open this Spring?

Opinion Co-Editors Natalie DiCesaris and Melissa Perez debate the Spring re-openings of Southern California’s theme parks.

After a year -long shut down, California announced the reopening of its theme parks. Starting April 1, theme parks will be allowed to reopen at 15% capacity when their respective counties reach the red tier. Some theme parks, such as Six Flags Magic Mountain and Legoland, will reopen on April 1, while other parks are waiting a bit longer to reopen, such as Knott’s Berry Farm, which reopens in May, and Disneyland, which reopens April 30. As these parks once again open their gates to families, California will take another step to pre-pandemic normalcy, but are these reopenings a walk in the park, or a walk into further outbreaks? Opinion Co-Editors Melissa Perez and Natalie DiCesaris debate the issue. 

POINT

by Melissa Perez

California is finally seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases. Reopening theme parks too soon will ultimately set us back to where we started. 

In the last year, California has experienced over 3.6 million COVID-19 cases. While cases are currently going down, COVID-19 is still widespread, and California needs to slow reconsider these Spring reopenings in order to avoid another spike.

Theme parks are magnets for tourists. The restrictions might ban out of state tourists, but California houses over 39 million residents. Theme parks will open in the red tier (or possibly in the orange tier if Orange County COVID-19 cases keep dropping) but this doesn’t stop residents who live in a purple tier county from going and spreading the virus. It’s irresponsible to open up so soon and expose millions of residents to COVID-19. 

Reopening these theme parks this fast is dangerous. 15% capacity might seem like a safe number, but it’s ridiculously high. At 15% capacity Knott’s Berry Farm would be allowing up to 4,000 visitors and Disneyland would be allowing up to 12,000 visitors per day. COVID-19 thrives off of crowds and these numbers are way more than just a crowd, they are masses. 

Reopening so soon does more harm than good. Parks are going to struggle economically with this reopening. The Los Angeles Times reported that 15% capacity would not be economically sustainable. Plus, most of these theme parks have already adapted to these changes. Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, have all made temporary “Taste of…” food events, which bring in revenue and are enough for the time being. 

California has worked too hard to recover from the last spike, we cannot go through that again. We have had enough of COVID-19 destroying our lives. The only way to stop it is if we slow down. We cannot reopen theme parks!


COUNTERPOINT

by Natalie DiCesaris

COVID-19 has held us back long enough. Businesses and restaurants need to fully reopen again, and one giant step towards this is the opening of theme parks. 

Since March 2020, theme parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm have been closed to the public due to COVID-19. Passing the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 shutting down America’s economy, opening theme parks is one of the best ways California can start to return to normal. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic started to where we are today, over 125,000 people in the theme park industry have lost their jobs; a large chunk of those workers came from Disneyland. In 2020, Disneyland layed off 28,000 employees. This gigantic lay off only added to the already massive amounts of those unemployed. As unemployment reached 13% during the height of the pandemic, extreme layoffs like Disney’s brought the realization that we must find a solution; and that solution is opening theme parks back up again. 

Theme parks opening up will not only create more jobs for Southern Californians, it will also help return us back to some sort of normalcy. As COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in California and vaccines are being distributed, the risks of opening an amusement park seem minimal. As long as parks follow COVID-19 safety rules, why should parks remain closed?

Theme parks need to reopen, California has been closed for too long. New Jobs along with an increased sense of normalcy will benefit Californians more than they realize as we continue to fight COVID-19.