Entertainment

California’s Disneyland Reopens to an Emotional ‘Homecoming’

Feature Image Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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Just knowing that it’s (almost) business as usual in ‘The Happiest Place on Earth,’ Disney fans are given a sense of hope as the state of California emerges from the pandemic.

After being closed for 412 days due to Covid, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure opened their gates to guests at the end of April. Capping park occupancy at 25 percent and with “a slew of coronavirus safety adjustments,” the Anaheim parks welcomed back some lucky guests who began lining up hours before Disneyland’s official 9am opening time.

A visitor taking it all in on Main Street.
A visitor taking it all in on Main Street, Disneyland | Image Credit: Getty Images / Los Angeles Times

Visitor Claudia Martinez told the Los Angeles Times, “This is a homecoming for us.”

Kevin Pryor and Brittany Roth of Fountain Valley reenact a pose from a famous photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt on Main St.
Kevin Pryor and Brittany Roth of Fountain Valley reenact a pose from a famous photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt on Main Street | Image Credit: Getty Images / Los Angeles Times

The park’s reopening provided a surge of emotions for not just guests, but for park employees, too. According to the Los Angeles Times, in Disneyland’s 66-year history, the theme park has been shut for extreme circumstances only a few times — such as after the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Before the pandemic struck in March of last year, none of those closures lasted longer than a day.

A Disneyland host tears up moments before the park opens.
A Disneyland host tears up moments before the park opens | Image Credit: Getty Images / Los Angeles Times

It isn’t hard to understand why the park’s reopening included these touching scenes, especially for millions of workers in the United States. With Disney having furloughed around 10,000 park employees since March 2020, many were relieved to see the park gates open again, offering them a renewed sense of hope.

It was such a monumental event that Bob Iger, Chairman of the Board of the Walt Disney Company, was present to greet guests and employees:

Bob Iger, Chairman of the Board of The Walt Disney Company, speaking to employees shortly before park opening.
Bob Iger, Chairman of the Board of The Walt Disney Company, speaking to employees shortly before park opening | Image Credit: Getty Images / Los Angeles Times

Many were also very touched to personally meet Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks Chairman, as he made his rounds to talk with park goers. Visitor Giselle Awabdy couldn’t contain her emotions as she met with D’Amaro:

Giselle Awabdy of Chno Hills weeps as she meets Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro on Main Street.
Giselle Awabdy of Chino Hills weeps as she meets Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro on Main Street | Image Credit: Getty Images / Los Angeles Times

To many, the excitement over the reopening of the world’s most famous theme park may seem a frivolous sentiment, but it points to the unfailing grit of humanity as it begins to heal. The world at large still has a long way to go, and many countries — including Malaysia — are seeing their worst surges of the pandemic yet, but knowing how bad things were in the United States in 2020, and contrasting that with the speed of their ongoing recovery, can be a source of hope for everyone.

Tearful park goers return to Disneyland | Image Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

With over 100 million Americans already fully vaccinated, hope abounds as the US is poised to start opening up more businesses, and citizens are eased into a post-pandemic environment.




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