Disneyland, along with many other theme parks around the country in various stages of reopening, is finally on track to reopen on April 30, 2021.
But as part of its phased reopening, it’s only open to California residents and in groups no larger than three households (this last part is on the honor system).
In order to manage park visitors, Disneyland requires you to have a park reservation and a valid ticket for the same date for guests age 3 and older. The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will reopen on April 29, 2021, but the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel remain closed for the moment. Downtown Disney District is open (select retail and dining). DisneyWorld, has been successfully opened since late last summer, so Disney had a workable model in place for Disneyland.
Safety Protocols that Change the Disneyland Experience
Disneyland will significantly scale back the number of visitors allowed in the parks at one time. They do this primarily with the online reservation system. Social distancing is the order of the day at least for now. Many physical barriers have been erected, and reduced contact dining is maintained, largely through the Disney app on your smartphone. Attractions and restaurants that can’t be safely opened with social distancing measures will remain closed.
You’ll find plexiglass dividers in ride queues, and interactive experiences for some rides (that require touching screens or animatronics) have been temporarily disabled or modified.
A Mask for You and a Mask for You…
Even as more and more Americans get fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends wearing masks in public places, and Disneyland will keep to that recommendation, at least in the beginning. The park plans to require temperature checks upon entry, and if you test at 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more, you’ll be asked to step aside to a different screening area and retested before gaining entry. Those visitors that don’t register lower on the second try will be denied entrance. Disneyland urges everyone to check temperatures before leaving home.
Will there be Princesses to hug?
The short answer? Sadly, no. The character interactions that are a hallmark of a park visit have largely been eliminated. Disney implemented temporary work-arounds where characters put on mini “shows” from safe distances. What does this look like? Instead of the roving characters that wander freely intermingling with guests, right now Disney has implemented mini parades of Princesses and other characters on horseback. You might also get the chance to visit with a character wearing a plexiglass face shield, or observe characters on balconies strategically positioned at key spots around the park. It’s a little less magical, but still better than not getting to meet Belle, Ariel, Elsa or your favorite princess. Long story short, if you want to hug a Disney princess, that’s not on the menu in 2021 just yet.
What about FASTPASS and Parades?
Once again, nope. At the moment, FASTPASS and Dsney MaxPass have been suspended and will return at a later date. To Disneyland veterans, this might be the harshest pill to swallow but with the limited admissions, you’ll not find this the bummer it first appears to be.
Parades and fireworks shows have also been put on an indefinite pause, so that should also be put into the overall calculus when you’re trying to decide whether or not to visit this year.
Disney “highly recommends” guests download the most current Disney Experience app. One main reason is to promote mobile ordering from restaurants and avoid long dining queues at the counters.
That just about covers the ways Disney has implemented procedures and policies to keep you safe. When it makes sense for you to visit Disneyland is an individual choice. But what we can say for sure is that Disney takes the safety of its guests seriously and continues to prioritize the health of both guests and employees alike.
What do you think? Are you likely to visit Disneyland a little bit later in the year when they open up to visitors from other states? Or will you hold off until you can get the “full” Disney experience without restrictions? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Also, if you’re not really a Disneyland “person”, you might also check out some of the other theme parks around the country. Coaster 101 tracks most of the larger parks and updates frequently.