California’s Disneyland reopened Friday after being closed for 412 days (but who’s counting?) due to COVID. While Disney capped attendance at 25 percent, those lucky guests who were able to show up were emotional, to say the least.
As visitor Claudia Martinez told the Los Angeles Times, “This is a homecoming for us.” It wasn’t just the fans that became misty-eyed at this small step toward normalcy, however. Employees did, as well:
The pandemic hit the world hard, especially for millions of workers in the United States. Disney furloughed around 10,000 parks employees since March 2020, according to Variety, giving even more weight to Mickey opening up the park gates.
The event was so monumental that Bob Iger, Chairman of the Board of the Walt Disney Company, attended to greet guests and employees:
Other head honchoes showed up as well, such as Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks Chairman. Visitor Giselle Awabdy couldn’t contain her emotions as she met with D’Amaro:
Can’t stress this enough: Emotions ran high!
While the fact that Disneyland is open is exciting in itself, it’s also a sign that “nature is healing,” so to speak. As of now, 100 million Americans are fully vaccinated. There’s still a ways to go — and the coronavirus crisis is mounting elsewhere, like India — but unlike 2020, there are flickers of hope such as this.
For non-Disney fans, it may seem silly to be this sentimental about a theme park. While there’s definite excitement specific to Disney, the reopening also signals that we’ll soon be able to enjoy all the other activities we missed out on the last year — like V-J Day inspired PDAs: