After spending months of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the spotlight for trying to repeatedly re-open the gates to the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland is finally letting Californians in…but not to take a ride on Haunted Mansion or sip on a green milk at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Orange County officials have confirmed that the Anaheim theme park will become one of the county’s first Point-Of-Dispensing (POD) sites for distribution of covid-19 vaccinations. Unlike its sister resort in Orlando, Florida, Disney World, California’s Disneyland has been closed since March due to coronavirus lockdown orders (outside of a limited re-opening of the Downtown Disney retail area adjacent to the parks, which has been open to guests since July). Disney World controversially re-opened in July and is currently host to both guests and a state-run covid-19 testing facility.
Disneyland will be one of five “Super POD” sites in Orange County, supposedly with the capacity to distribute thousands of vaccine doses to people daily, and is expected to begin operating later this week.
“Disneyland Resort is proud to help support Orange County and the City of Anaheim with the use of our property, and we are grateful for all of their efforts to combat COVID-19,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, the Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, told ABC7 news. “After a year in which so many in our community have faced unprecedented hardship and uncertainty, there is now reason for optimism with the administration of a vaccine.”
It’s been a strange journey to get to Disneyland’s quasi-re-opening here (no, they’re probably not gonna let you get on Space Mountain after your jab, sadly). The famous theme park has been at the forefront of pushes in California to re-open, citing the economic damage the ongoing pandemic has caused the region, as well as the relative success of Disney World’s controlled re-opening in Florida, as incentives for the Happiest Place On Earth to start serving guests again. But U.S. state health officials have remained steadfast on strict guidelines for theme parks, Disneyland or otherwise, to open in even a severely reduced capacity — guidelines that have yet to be put into practice, given Orange County’s current covid case numbers.
Even if the park can’t open to guests yet, helping to distribute vaccinations against the coronavirus is infinitely more useful than access to Splash Mountain and churros is right now.