In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- The Disneyland Hotel has a new opening day.
- COVID restrictions continue to be removed at parks.
- Cedar Point introduces higher hourly wages.
- And more!
The last couple months have been, mercifully, full of cultural moments that all conjure up the thought that nature is healing. Mask mandates are lifting, COVID cases and deaths are decreasing, and that means that all the ways in which we used to enjoy ourselves pre-pandemic are roaring back. California has been slower to return to normal (understandably), but as the state moves beyond its COVID restrictions, the Disneyland Resort is slowly opening back up. One of the final dominoes to fall is the Disneyland Hotel, which will reopen for guest reservations on July 2 just in time for the Independence Day holiday weekend. Though some parts of the park and resort continue to be modified, everything from the monorail pool to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar appear to be ready to reopen for business. And a fun note – the hotel’s gotten a slight overhaul during its extended closure, including “flooring…inspired by the art of Mary Blair”. Sounds like it’s time for a trip, huh?
And speaking of hotels and Disney, there’s another one opening up even sooner, but this one’s not in the United States. Over at Disneyland Paris, which has its own up-and-down situation with the park opening and closing during the pandemic, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel will be open for reservations starting on June 21, with bookings already available. The hotel name may seem like a mouthful, but aside from having some suites designed after Marvel superheroes, the hotel will be one of the biggest galleries in the world to boast artwork from the world of Marvel, including 50 exclusive pieces. So if you’re a fan of the world of Marvel, and more than just the MCU, you might want to take a trip overseas this summer.
It’s not just Disney getting back in the fun of opening up more of its hotels worldwide, though. Universal Studios Orlando is expanding its own set of open hotels. Starting June 16, the Aventura Hotel will be open again for guest reservations. This newer, shiny and mirrored hotel is only a few years old, but has been closed for most of the pandemic. Though the Universal Orlando website has yet to fully reflect the announcement that the resort made on Instagram, it’s yet another sign of normalcy – or at least the attempt to create normalcy – back at theme parks.
One more sign of normalcy returning is the simple removal of some extra health-related measures that theme parks have imposed. One of the most familiar of the last year-plus (and arguably one of the most useless) is temperature checks. Though Disneyland has been open the least amount of time of most of the big theme parks, once California’s statewide restrictions are more heavily eased on June 15, temperature checks will be going away. The simple reality is that temperature checks look the part of staying safe and healthy, but for the umpteenth time, since some carriers of the COVID virus are asymptomatic, you can’t guarantee that a temperature check will tell you if someone is or isn’t sick with the virus. So it’s high time this check went away.
But operating theme parks on a daily basis can be a challenge, even in a non-pandemic world. It’s not just that you want to ensure that restaurants, rides, and characters are ready to face the onslaught of daily guests. It’s that when things don’t work, they can get scary,. Take, for instance, the Walt Disney World Monorail, which had to close for a day earlier this week when a vehicle knocked into a monorail beam. Though teams were hard at work to get things back up and running – and the Monorail already is back at full capacity – it’s mildly terrifying to realize how close disaster can be around the corner with even as smooth and calm a ride as this.
Even as we appear to be – thankfully–- in the back half of the pandemic, one of the grim signs that normal is going to be hard to return to is the fact that some companies are facing labor shortages, in some cases because ex-employees find it’s easier to make more money on unemployment than by actually working. One such company facing a shortage is Cedar Point, and they’re trying to get more workers by – lo and behold – offering more money. (That may just be the problem – if you make more on unemployment than your actual job, your actual job doesn’t pay you enough and should pay more.) So if you’re up for a part-time gig this summer, Cedar Point is offering a $20/hour rate, a 100% increase over the previous year’s hourly rates for part-time and seasonal employees. Hopefully other companies will actually move in this direction, paying more to the people who make their parks come alive every day.
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