It's been an unusual year for the Disney Parks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in the longest closure in history for many of the parks. Keep reading our guide for everything you need to know including new policies in place, exclusive come back travel discounts, and how to still plan for a magical vacation.
Disneyland Theme Park Guidelines Announced
Oct. 20th: Today we finally got the guidelines for theme park reopening in California which will be based upon the tier color coding system (pictured below) for COVID risk level per county. Unfortunately, these guidelines did not bring the best news for fans of larger theme parks in California like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.
California Theme Park Guidelines based on 4-Tier Reopening Plan
- Smaller parks can open with modifications
- Capacity must be limited to 25% or 500 people, whichever is less
- Outdoor attractions only can open
- Reservations required
- Local attendees only (from the same county as the park’s location)
- Larger parks can open with modifications
- Park capacity must be limited to 25%
- Reservations required
This guidance includes additional considerations for:
- Admission, entry, and security
- All rides and attractions
- Dining and concessions
- Performances, interactive exhibits, and events
- Uniform, costume, and wardrobe protocols
Disneyland Cannot Open Until Yellow Tier
Based on the guidelines above from the state of California website, Disneyland will not be granted permission to open until Orange County moves into the yellow tier on the California 4-tier reopening plan. For reference, as of October 20th Orange County is currently still in the red tier but has been close to moving into the Orange tier for the past few weeks. LA County, where Universal Studios Hollywood is located, is currently still in the purple tier.
This is not great news for theme park fans as the yellow is the most optimistic tier with case counts and positivity rates so low that only a few counties in California currently meets this metric. Keep checking back for details as we get them!
Disneyland to Open Disney Vacation Club Villas and Buena Vista Street
Disneyland announced they will extend Downtown Disney to include Buena Vista Street in California Adventure on Nov. 19th along with the shops and restaurants in that area of that park. That includes popular restaurants like Carthay Circle and favorite sweets locations like Trolley Treats. This portion of California Adventure is now part of Downtown Disney so is subject to the same health and safety procedures such as required face coverings, virtual wait lists for popular stores, and limited capacity. You can read all about it in our guide.
Disneyland will also welcome Disney Vacation Club members back to the Villas the Grand Californian starting December 6th. During this initial phase, the Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will be open only for Members. The rest of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will remain closed to non-members. Additional information on what to expect at The Villas during your stay will be shared soon. You can read more about this phased reopening on the DVC website.
The parks will manage attendance with a new reservation system. All guests, including Disneyland Annual Passholders, will be required to obtain a park reservation guaranteeing entry. These reservations will be subject to availability. We don't have any further details on this yet, but we will share them with our newsletter email list when they are released. Disney has also now paused all new ticket sales and Annual Pass sales or renewals.Disney has also now paused all new ticket sales and Annual Pass sales or renewals.
Downtown Disney Open Now
Downtown Disney has been open since July 9th and cast members have done a great job managing the new health policies in place.
How is shopping different?
- Mobile Wait List: At some retail locations, including the World of Disney store and Marceline’s Confectionery, a mobile wait list system might be used to manage the number of Guests shopping when the location and/or queue are at capacity. Guests can choose to provide their name and mobile number to receive a text message when they are able to return.
- New Product Launches: Guests can still find new merchandise at the Downtown Disney District. However, monthly program releases and limited-edition merchandise will be by reservation only. Guests can visit the Merchandise Events page for more information on future buying opportunities.
- Dressing Rooms: For the time being, dressing rooms are not be available for use.
- Returns: Eligible returns and exchanges will be accepted at the World of Disney store, as well as the other Disney-owned and -operated locations in the Downtown Disney District, subject to the returns and exchange policy.
DOWNTOWN DISNEY – ??? Full tour! All info —> https://mickeyvisit.com/disneyland-opening/
Posted by Disneyland Secrets on Thursday, July 9, 2020
What is dining like?
Dining locations have been reopened to incorporate the enhanced health and safety measures, physical distancing, use of face coverings, increased cleaning, and limited-contact Guest services.
To promote physical distancing and touchless transactions, a number of changes include:
- Increased outdoor patio-style seating
- Parties seated at tables 6 feet apart
- Digital or single-use menus available at many locations
For some table service restaurants, Guests will be able to make advance dining reservations by booking online. Some dining locations may also use their own reservation system or virtual waitlist.
Walt Disney World Reopened Successfully
Walt Disney World has reopened successfully with all four theme parks open since July without incident. Disney has demonstrated their commitment to safety and detail in their reopening of the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Disney World Reservation System
Disney World is using a reservation system to handle capacity for all guests including Annual Passholders. Here is what we have learned so far based on Disney World's reservation system:
- Reservations are limited and subject to availability and are not guaranteed until a reservation is finalized.
- At this time, Guests will be able to select one park per day; visiting more than one park per day will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of the theme parks due to attendance limitations.
- Guests with existing tickets that include the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option have options available to them for ticket modifications and cancellations.
- A park reservation must be made for each day of entry. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit.
- It is highly recommend that you make your park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase, as availability can change until the reservation is finalized.
Park reservations are available through September 26, 2021, based on your Resort stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window. So in other words, you can expect to be required to make a reservation until September 2021 based on this news from Disney World.
Social Distancing in Attractions and Queues
You can see the effort to manage social distancing in the line queues and attractions at Disney World. Plexiglass barriers have been installed for attraction queues that are difficult to maintain six feet of distance. Ride vehicles are also spaced out with guests of the same parties only sitting near each other and some ride vehicles being used with just one party per ride (DINOSAUR- so we might see this with Indiana Jones in Disneyland). Haunted Mansion sees the biggest change with no pre-show in the stretching room, guests just walk in and out of the attraction without congregating together.
Modified Character Experiences
Disney World has gotten creative in order to still incorporate characters into their parks while still enforcing social distancing to keep cast members and guests safe. See some of the social media posts below to see how characters will still bring magic to your visit!
MERIDA RIDING ANGUS!!!! pic.twitter.com/2GW0AYlfjj
— ?Christie ? (@christier0408) July 7, 2020
You can also expect to see holiday cavalcades for Halloween and Christmas! These are almost like ‘mini parades' and they run consistently throughout the theme parks so you'll be sure to see them throughout your day.
Walt Disney World Re-Opening Safety Procedures
Walt Disney World is following an extensive list of safety and health procedures to protect both guests and cast members. These include:
- Certain Experiences Temporarily Suspended: Experiences that draw large group gatherings– such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. In addition, “high-touch” experiences such as makeover opportunities, playgrounds and character meet and greets are temporarily unavailable.
- Reduced capacity: Walt Disney World has a reduced guest capacity and an advanced reservation system in place to manage attendance. All guests are required to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance.
- Screening and prevention support: Guests 2 years of age and older and cast members will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. All guests and cast members will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park.
- Cleanliness and sanitation: Increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes used. Cashless transactions are recommended.
- Physical distancing: Managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort.
- New Signage: Disney also revealed a list of new signs to remind guests of hand washing, touchless payment, distancing measures, etc.
Disney has shown a great attention to detail with their safety policies as they continue to modify their guidelines based on guest experience. For example, they noticed some guests were taking their masks off while they walked around eating so they changed the policy to ‘guests must remain stationary when eating or drinking' in order to create a stricter mask compliance.
Discount Disneyland Tickets
Our favorite Disney-approved re-seller, Get Away Today,offers the best Disneyland discount tickets around. In addition to great discount prices, their customer service and easy support is absolutely fantastic. They have an entire department dedicated to making sure every order has a wonderful experience and they are on-call to help you during your vacation if you need them.
Disneyland ticket deals:
- Extra Day Free – Get your 5th day free when you book a 4-day Disneyland ticket of any type. Book HERE >
Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time.
You can read my review on my personal experiences booking through Get Away Today and how much you can save here!
Get Away Today Comeback Offers for Anaheim Area Hotels
Local Anaheim area hotels are offering unprecedented discount rates to offer incentive for travel for the rest of the 2020 year. Now is a great time to get a fantastic deal on a fabulous Good Neighbor hotel near Disneyland.
We often stay at these Anaheim area hotels and have magical experiences. Some of these local area hotels are even closer to the resort than the official resort hotels. When you book with Get Away Today you get even more reduced rates along with the potential of other perks like free parking, breakfast, waived resort fees, and more.
Anaheim Area Hotel Offers – Must be booked by May 31, 2020
- Clarion Hotel – Heavily Discounted Rates on All Room Types
- Castle Inn & Suites – 3rd Night Free
- Courtyard Theme Park Entrance Waterpark – Reduced Rates on All Room Types
- Courtyard Anaheim Resort Convention Center – 20% Reduced Rates
- Clementine Suites Anaheim – 25% Reduced Rates on All Rooms Types
- Anaheim Springhill Suites Maingate – 20% Off Rates (2 night min) and 30% Off Rates (4 night min)
- Cambria Hotel & Suites Anaheim – Reduced Rates on All Room Types
Other Southern California Attractions
- Knott's Berry Farm – Get Adults at Kids' Prices – Just $59 per person
- Universal Studios Hollywood™ – Save up to $34 per ticket
- LEGOLAND® California Resort – 2nd Day Free on Park Hopper Ticket with Water Park
- SeaWorld San Diego – Weekday Special Ticket for $55.99
You can read some of our staff reviews on a few of our favorite neighboring hotels within walking distance to Disneyland below:
- Clarion Review
- Howard Johnson Anaheim Review
- Best Western PLUS Park Place Inn & Mini-Suites Review
- Get Away Today Service Review
With so many hotels to choose from, you can find a great deal for a place that fits your family with these amazing comeback offers. Click here to start your vacation planning!>
Tips for Planning a Disney Vacation During this Unusual Time
Let's face it: planning travel right now can be tough. Here's some tips to help make the process easier despite the unusual times we're living in.
Book Airlines with Refundable Options
If you're rebooking a trip through an airline or booking one for the first time, many of the airlines are being pretty generous on waiving change fees for rebooking and offering flexible options. Another thing I noticed when researching all these new policies in affect due to the COVID-19 concerns, many airlines are extending this flexibility to future travel which can help reassure customers that if this continues to impact travel- you can get a refund.
Whatever you end up needing to book whether it is airfare, shuttle tickets, etc. make sure that it is all refundable so you can plan with peace of mind.
Get Refundable Tickets and Hotel Options
This is one of the reasons why I absolutely love Get Away Today! We often plan our Disney vacations up to a year in advance and they offer so many great add on options to cover an unexpected circumstances. And with Disney opening after this extended closure, there's plenty of additional discounts to go around along with refundable options.
Get Away Today offers refundable ticket options for an additional $25 per ticket purchase which allows you the option of refunding your park tickets! This is a great way to ease any hesitation about planning your Disney Parks vacation. Park tickets are also valid through 2020 and can be rescheduled. They are the only ticket reseller that offers the refundable ticket option.
If you book your hotel and tickets through Get Away Today, consider purchasing their Peace of Mind package which allows you full refundability on your hotel and any tickets in your vacation package. I always use this option regardless because you never know what might come up. But also keep in mind, if your travel was or will be impacted by a closure Get Away Today will work with you on rescheduling with no penalty fees. They have been absolutely fantastic to everyone during this- I cannot applaud them enough. Support a small business and book with them for your trip!
You can contact 855-GET-AWAY for more information and get things rolling to plan your trip for Disney opening!
Plan Your Disney Parks Vacation!
Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know to prepare for Disney opening to the public again! We have a team of writers working hard to keep you updated weekly on events in the parks and tips for navigating the magic. Subscribe to our free deals newsletter to receive helpful Disney opening information, exclusive Disney opening deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here: