We’ve heard what California’s major theme parks, including Disneyland, had to say in response to California Governor Newsom’s theme park reopening guidelines. Now, we’re hearing from local business owners who are calling these guidelines the “worst possible outcome.”
Speaking to KCAL 9 News, Paul Sanford, chief executive officer of Wincome Hospitality, which owns the Anaheim hotel, said the concern now is not Disneyland, but the city of Anaheim. Sanford is also worried about revenue for the city, that mostly comes from Disneyland Resort, saying;
“Over 50% of the general fund for the city of Anaheim, the residents of Anaheim, that pay police and fire and all the city services, over 50% comes from the resort. So, how is this thing, on a macro level, how is the city going to survive to lose 50% of its budget?”
KCAL 9 News also interviewed Mike Arfan, owner of Kamel Shuttle in Anaheim. Afran called the governor’s decision the “nail in the coffin,” adding;
“Today, when the news broke, my jaw dropped and I just couldn’t believe that we’re being told that we may not open again until 2021, let alone six to nine maybe 12 months into 2021.”
Kamel Shuttle had to cut its staff by 98% due to the dramatic drop in business following the COVID-10 closures. Arfan estimates he could potentially be shut down for a year and a half. He went on to question the reporter, asking, “Who can survive that?”
The pandemic has hit the hotel and retail industry hard, but it has been extremely severe for businesses surrounding the Disneyland Resort. Many of these businesses, the hotels, the gift shops, and restaurants rely almost entirely on the tens of thousands of tourists who visit Disneyland daily.
Just last week, before yesterday’s announcement from the governor, Ernie Badalian spoke to Spectrum News 1 and expressed concern for his business. Badalian is 95-year-old and owns the Tropicana and Camelot Inn & Suites, right outside of Disneyland Resort.
The hotel owner said he misses hearing and seeing the Disneyland Monorail going by across the street, as well as the crowds of excited people on their way to Disneyland.
Badalian, who has owned the Tropicana since 1959, told Spectrum News 1, “It’s dead.” Going on to say, “There’s nobody here. It’s like a funeral. This is nothing like anything that I have experienced in my whole life.”
Tropicana Inn General Manager Greg Eisenman said on any given night, more than 10,000 guests would stay in the hotels in this part of the resort district neighborhood, not including the thousands of more visitors eating at the restaurants or shopping at the retail stores. This part of town employed about 8,500 workers, Eisenman said.
Eisenman told the news station,
“If we don’t get any reopening plans soon, we will be forced to shut down and lay off our entire staff of 90 employees including me. We were living off the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] money, but that money will be gone by the next payroll on the 16th.”
The hotel manager worried that if Disneyland would not be allowed to reopen, and remain closed, the writing would be on the wall for him and his business.
Dara Maleki and his family have been apart of the resort district community for four decades. They own three gift shops and is the founder and CEO of the Pizza Press chain. In recent weeks, Maleki made the extremely difficult decision to close two of his 3 gift shops. While Pizza Press, just across the street from Disneyland, remains open, Maleki says revenue is down 90%.
He told Spectrum News 1,
“This is the first time in 40 years that we are seeing just absolute devastation to a community that has long been held as bullet-proof. There is real hurt out there. It just feels like the theme park industry in the state is being unfairly punished.”
In 2019, the Disneyland Resort brought in 18.6 million visitors, an average of more than 51,000 visitors a day, according to the Themed Entertainment Association, an industry group for professionals in the theme park industry. Unfortunately, Anaheim may not see those numbers again for years.
Almost all of the local businesses say all of the PPP money is running out, as well as other grant money. California’s statewide eviction moratoriums are being lifted, leaving small business owners to essentially fend for themselves.
Disney has vowed to continue working until the Disneyland Resort reopens. Under Gov. Newsom’s unrealistic tiered system, that could be next Summer at the earliest.