The decision to open the parks in Anaheim come as state and local officials have already moved to ease social distancing restrictions that were put in place because of the coronavirus, even though health officials in Orange and Los Angeles counties are still recording an increase in the number of infections.
According to an announcement on Wednesday, the California theme parks will reopen July 17, but "capacity will be significantly limited to comply with government requirements."
The parks will also adopt "enhanced health and safety measures," although it was unclear what exactly those would be. However, when the company announced that Disney World would start reopening its Florida theme parks in mid-July, it said guests would have to wear face coverings and have their temperatures screened before entering. The parks also plan to have more handwashing and sanitizing stations.
For the time being, officials said some of the most popular events inside the park, such as parades, nighttime shows, and character "meet-and-greets" won't be available.
The Walt Disney Co. closed its theme parks on March 14 as the number of coronavirus infections was steadily growing across the country and public health officials moved to close down major gathering locations.
The four-month-long shutdown was only the third time the parks have closed its gates, and began after California officials advised gatherings of more than 250 should be postponed. The state would go on to tighten its restrictions even further as the spread of the virus accelerated, limiting gatherings of more than 10 people.
According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, 147 new cases were reported there Wednesday, a significant increase from 92 cases the previous day.
In nearby Los Angeles County, officials there reported more than 3,000 new cases Tuesday, and officials cited concerns that infection numbers could be increasing. Even so, the county has also moved to reopen gyms, museums, hotels, and other businesses by Friday.
Disney pointed out that its plans to reopen and health policies will continue to be reviewed depending on conditions and government regulations.