California Releases Revised Theme Park Guidelines; Requires Outdoor Queuing, Allows Face Covering Exemptions

New COVID-19 guidance for theme parks has been released by the State of California. The 13-page document details the state’s expectations for theme parks like Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood. Five key prevention practices are outlined.

  • physical distancing to the maximum extent possible
  • use of face coverings by workers (where respiratory protection is not already required) and customers/clients
  • for indoor locations, ensuring adequate ventilation in all spaces,
  • frequent handwashing and regular cleaning and disinfection
  • training workers on these and other elements of the COVID-19 prevention program

Employers must provide optional weekly COVID-19 tests for employees. Employees who participate are not counted towards capacity limits, while employees who are not tested weekly do count against capacity limits.


Face Coverings

Face coverings are required for all employees and guests, unless actively eating and drinking. However, the guidance also calls for park operators to “allow for exemptions identified in the CDPH Face Covering Guidance.” The CDPH Face Covering Guidance can be found here and includes exemptions for various physical and mental conditions.

Performers who cannot wear face coverings during a performance may remove the face covering while performing. The performer must be at least six feet away from others. Unmasked performers performing near one another must be tested for COVID-19 at least twice per week.

As we previously reported, park guests must be California residents. During the park pass reservation process, guests must attest that no more than three separate households make up the visiting party.


Attractions may not be longer than 15 minutes. Queuing must be done outdoors, with six feet of physical distancing between parties. Household members may board attractions together. Those from other households must be at least six feet away from the other household’s members.

California also requires that loading procedures be adjusted to allow physical distancing. If face coverings present a danger on an attraction, the attraction may not operate.

Occupancy Determination

A park’s reduced occupancy is based on the fire department limit. If a fire department limit has not been established, the park’s operating design capacity will determine the reduced capacity.

Pixar Pier California Adventure Feature


Guests may eat and drink only in designated areas. Quick service locations must provide additional outdoor seating and shaded dining areas. Food and dink is not allowed in queues or on attractions.

Red — Substantial — Tier 2 Reopening

When California theme parks reopen, they will be operating in Tier 2. This classification means the following restrictions are in place:

  • Parks must limit visitors to a maximum of 15% capacity
  • Small Groups only – Limited to a maximum of 10 people or 3 household groups with no intergroup mixing
  • Indoor capacity limited to a maximum of 15%
  • No indoor dining
  • Walk up ticket sales allowed. Park operators must collect complete name and contact information (including a phone number) of the ticket purchaser for necessary contact tracing.

The document provides in-depth details for attractions, dining, physical distancing, and other health and safety considerations.

What do you think of California’s guidance for theme park reopening? Use the comments to share your thoughts.