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Universal Studios Hollywood Asks L.A. County to Allow Theme Parks to Reopen

Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Theme parks in Los Angeles County are urging local officials to allow them to reopen between mid-June and July 1, arguing that they can do so safely.

Karen Irwin, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios Hollywood, asked the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to allow theme park workers to return to work immediately in order to prepare for a reopening. The county’s amusement parks include Six Flags Magic Mountain and Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier.

She said that it is a “misperception” that theme parks should be among the last facilities to reopen, noting that park visitors spend most of their time outdoors.

“Theme parks actually offer a more controlled environment than beaches, gardens or hiking trails,” said Irwin, speaking at a meeting of the county’s Economic Resiliency Task Force. She said that the industry is developing protective measures that will allow for physical distancing, and noted that parks have the ability to limit capacity and manage guest flow.

“We would like approval to begin the reopening process immediately in order to get our employees back to work,” she said. “L.A. County parks will be ready to begin reopening between mid-June and July 1.”

Irwin noted that international travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2023, meaning that parks will be dependent on local visitors. She also highlighted that Las Vegas is reopening its casinos, and argued that L.A. County residents should have local options.

Universal Orlando has already set a June 5 reopening date. The Florida counterpart of Universal Studios Hollywood will require all visitors to wear face coverings, have their temperatures checked upon arrival and socially distance throughout the park.

Last week, Florida’s Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force approved Walt Disney World and SeaWorld executives’ reopening proposals. SeaWorld will reopen on June 11, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are set to open on July 11, and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on July 15. Disney’s Orlando theme parks will require temperature checks upon arrival, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, hand-washing and sanitizing stations and “limited-contact enhancements,” such as contactless payments and mobile orders at restaurants.

Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. has not yet set a reopening date.