It’s been a long year for Disneyland fans, with park gates staying closed. While there have been a few opportunities to shop at Disneyland, the only bona fide “event” in the past year, A Touch of Disney, is just under way. As the first guests are due to arrive for the event, we now know when Disneyland will fully reopen the parks, if only to a select few guests.
Disneyland Reopening April 30th
We knew that Disneyland was planning to open in late April, based on the recent announcement. I was talking with Disneyland expert Leslie Harvey this week, and she agreed that it seemed Disney was taken a bit by surprise in regards to the California announcement. Disneyland takes a while to gear up from a staffing standpoint, so April 30th seems like a reasonable achievement. There are a few other details that are either confirmed or we have a high confidence in.
Capacity Will Be Limited, Though We’re Not Sure How Much
We know there will be capacity restrictions when Disneyland reopens. The state of California has a complicated set of tiers that will dictate the capacity over the next few months. The lowest capacity possible is 15%, though it seems likely that by the end of April Disneyland may be able to operate at 25% capacity. As long as positive COVID-19 tests keep going down and vaccines keep going up, it looks promising for more people to be able to visit Disneyland.
If You’re Not From California You’re Out Of Luck, For Now
California’s current regulations only allow residents of California to visit theme parks. That means there will likely be some sort of mechanism to restrict folks from out-of-state. That impetus will likely be on Disneyland. Look for restrictions on ticket purchases or the need to show ID at the gates to prove you’re a resident. As Leslie said on the podcast this week, that requirement is likely to go away in the next few months.
All The Protections You Expect Will Be In Place
Because California is still very conservative when it comes to loosening pandemic restrictions, you should expect to see plenty of safety measures at Disneyland when it reopens. That will surely include the need to wear a mask in virtually all parts of the parks. Social distancing in queues and restaurants will be required. Shows that take place indoors will likely be on hold. And, some rides will probably not operate at full capacity.
We‘ve seen Disney World slowly adjust how many people they allow on specific attractions, with those numbers really only going up over the past handful of months. California is far more restrictive than Florida, so I’d expect to see spacing last a lot longer at Disneyland.
Lots of Your Favorite Features Will Be Missing, Too
Though the parks themselves will be open, large parts of what makes Disneyland so fun will have to wait. Don’t expect to see parades (though you may see the mini-cavalcades Disney World rolled out). Character meet-and-greets will be off the table early on. It’s likely nighttime spectaculars (fireworks) will be on hiatus for awhile, too.
Onsite guests that normally enjoy extra access via Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hours will also be disappointed. When those popular features return is still to be determined. They truly are game changers for attractions like Radiator Springs. FASTPASS and MaxPass will also be suspended when the parks reopen.
You’ll Need Reservations
Maybe you haven’t heard of Disney World’s Park Pass reservation system? It’s around to stay until at least 2023, and you should expect to see it roll out at Disneyland shortly. With only two parks, things should be a bit more straightforward at Disneyland. However, the capacity restrictions from California are bound to play a large part in how quickly reservations get snapped up. So far, we haven’t seen any way to cancel a Park Pass reservation. That makes it hard to tell if and when capacity will show up once a day sells out. If Disney World is any guide, availability will pop up when you least expect it.
Disneyland has been closed much longer than Disney World, which will surely lead to an increase in demand. They won’t have to deal with obligations to annual pass members after ending that program. But, many of those folks are California residents and likely lead to the incredible demand for Touch of Disney tickets.
Wrapping Up The Magic
We’re excited Disneyland has an actual date for reopening! We expect the crowds to be substantial, with plenty of disappointed fans along the way. But, things should return to more normal conditions over the next few months as vaccines keep going into arms. Expect capacity increases and the ability for folks outside of California to visit in the few months. You should also expect to enjoy the parks with a mask for a while longer.