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!
In this article:
Disneyland Announces April 30th Reopening
Disneyland reopened on April 30th after the longest closure in history!
Theme park capacity is limited to comply with governmental requirements (see our breakdown of the CA tier system below) so Disneyland will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. To enter a park, both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date are required for guests ages 3 and up.
Starting June 15th, out of state residents can now visit Disneyland! We also anticipate to see many other restrictions life on June 15th as the CA COVID restrictions are phased out.
Disneyland Theme Park Guidelines Released
After a long wait, since October of 2020, theme parks received an update to the previous announced guidelines within the color coded tier system the State of California has used for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The color coded system begins with purple begin the most restrictive category to yellow being the least restrictive. These new guidelines go into effect on April 1st which gave Disney the clearance to reopen their gates on April 30th.
California's Tier System and Theme Park Restrictions
- Max attendance capacity 15%
- Small Groups – Max 10 people or 3 household groups with no intergroup mixing
- Indoor capacity max 15% with time restrictions
- No indoor dining
- In-state visitors only
- Max attendance capacity 25%
- Indoor capacity max 25% with time restrictions
- In-state visitors only
- Max attendance capacity 35%
- Indoor capacity max 25% with time restrictions
- In-state visitors only
This guidance includes additional considerations that may still apply for:
- Admission, entry, and security
- All rides and attractions
- Dining and concessions
- Performances, interactive exhibits, and events
- Uniform, costume, and wardrobe protocols
Theme Park Guidelines Issued by California Specify Restrictions for Dining and Indoor Rides
The State of California released their full guidance for theme park operations with the restrictions that theme parks are required to operate with. Some takeaways from this guidance, in terms of guest experience, include:
- In state visitors only across all tiers
- Park visitors are permitted to eat and drink only in designated dining areas. Concession stands must be accompanied by additional designated and shaded eating areas.
- Indoor rides must be limited to no more than 15 minutes.
- All queuing must be performed in outdoor settings only and guests from different households or other parties must be at least six feet apart during queuing.
- Park operators must collect complete name and contact information (including a phone number) of the ticket purchaser for necessary contact tracing.
- Only outdoor live performances and shows are allowed in all tiers.
Some of these guidelines aren't too different than what we've seen implemented at Walt Disney World right now while others are a bit more restrictive. We will keep this guide updated, especially concerning indoor rides and queues, once we know information from Disney.
The parks will manage attendance with a new reservation system. All guests 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.
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.
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.
- 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 Spring 2022 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 next year 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.
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: