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Disneyland reopens this month: Be ready for fewer rides, no meet-and-greets — and shorter lines


Visitors can once again enter the “Happiest Place on Earth” starting later this month — but the experience may not appear as happy as it was pre-pandemic.

Unless, of course, you always hated those long lines for rides.

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., which includes Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, a separate park roughly themed after the state of California, will reopen on April 30.

Both theme parks will be limited to 15% capacity upon reopening, in line with the guidelines set by California. The two parks have remained closed since last March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Disney
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released more information on how visitors can book a visit to the theme parks and what they can expect in terms of attractions and dining later this month.

Much like with Walt Disney World in Florida, which reopened its four theme parks last summer, guests will need to make a reservation to visit Disneyland Resort and have valid theme-park admission for the parks. And all guests will be required to wear masks throughout their time at the theme parks.

Indeed, for a sense of what to expect with Disneyland’s reopening, visitors can look to how the parks at Walt Disney World operate amid the pandemic, travel experts said. “I would expect that from the guests’ perspective, the basic distancing procedures they’ve settled on for the Florida parks will be followed more or less the same way in California,” said Don Munsil, co-owner of travel website MouseSavers.com.

Here’s more of what people can expect if they’re planning a visit to Disneyland Resort later this month:

Only Californians will be able to enter at first

Per state guidelines, Disneyland won’t be open to everyone, so folks will want to hold off on booking their flights to LAX for now.

Only California residents will be allowed to visit the parks, and Disney warns that guests may be required to present proof of residency to enter. Additionally, groups cannot be any larger than three households — so people may want to make other plans for that big, post-vaccination family reunion.

You’ll need to have a reservation in advance

Much like with Walt Disney World, even local residents shouldn’t expect to show up to the parks in Anaheim and expect to walk in — and that will be a pretty big change for the many people in the greater Los Angeles area who paid impromptu visits to the House of Mouse in the past.

As in Florida, there is a new reservation system in place that guests must use in advance of their visit. Dates may be made available on a rolling basis, and reservations are limited.

“To enter a park, both a theme-park reservation and a valid admission ticket for the same park on the same date is required for each Guests ages 3 and up,” Disney states on the Disneyland website. “If you have a multi-day ticket, you must make a park reservation for each date of your visit.”

Visitors are limited to one park reservation per day. The reservation system is set to go live on April 12 for anyone who already has valid theme park tickets from before Disneyland Resort closed last year. Sales of new tickets will resume on April 15, and families without prior tickets can book their reservations at that time.

There’s not a way to sneak around the reservation requirement, either. “Since both a theme park reservation and a valid admission ticket for the same park on the same date are required for park entry, reservations for dining experiences and other pre-booked experiences will not guarantee access to a park,” Disney states.

You can still ‘hop’ between parks

Guests can still purchase special “Park Hopper” tickets that allow them to visit both of the theme parks located at Disneyland Resort. But reservations are still required.

Here’s how that works: Families will need to book their reservation for the first park they wish to visit on a given day. And they must enter that park first. Then, starting at 1 p.m., they will be allowed to “hop” over to the other park for the rest of the day.

Word of warning though: If the second park is at capacity, your family may be barred from entering.

Not all attractions are reopening

While visitors will be able to experience most of their favorite rides and attractions when the theme parks resume operations later this month, some won’t be available for the foreseeable future.

As with Walt Disney World, nighttime fireworks shows and parades are on pause due to physical distancing requirements, given the large crowds that form for both. Same goes for character meet-and-greets. So the little ones won’t be able to meet Mickey Mouse, Cinderella or Winnie the Pooh up close, though the famous characters will appear in the parks in other ways.

Additionally, some of the parks’ most famous attractions are closed for the time-being, including the Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coaster, the Jungle Cruise, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, among others.

“The rationale for many of these remaining closed is relatively straightforward: indoor attractions are limited to 15 minutes under California’s theme park reopening rules,” Tom Bricker, who owns DisneyTouristBlog.com, wrote in a post on his travel website about Disneyland’s return.

In other cases, rides may be closed for scheduled refurbishments. For instance, Disney recently announced that it was overhauling the Jungle Cruise attraction at both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. (Disneyland did not comment on the reasons why the attractions were not reopening.)


‘One of the big changes that Disneyland guests will see is long outdoor queues, such as for Space Mountain.’


— Len Testa, president of travel website Touring Plans

And the experience with some rides and attractions will be quite different. For starters, Disneyland guests won’t be able to get FastPasses or the MaxPass, special tickets that allow them to reserve a time to go on a ride and cut the line essentially. And rides that used to have lines for single riders won’t have those special queues for now.

“One of the big changes that Disneyland guests will see is long outdoor queues, such as for Space Mountain,” said Len Testa, president of travel website Touring Plans and co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.” “Disneyland doesn’t have as much indoor queue space as the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, and Disney’s trying to limit the amount of time guests spend indoors.”

Testa warned that while lines make look long due to social distancing, they should move relatively quickly. Additionally, visitors will likely see Plexiglas dividers along the queues for rides and even on some ride vehicles.

Dining options will be limited — and you’ll want to order on your phone

As was the case with attractions, not all restaurants and dining options will be available to eat at or purchase from when Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen. In particular, there will be no “character dining” experiences where families can eat meals and be visited by characters. Plus, some restaurants will have limited capacity, since indoor dining is largely still not allowed because of California’s guidelines.

For table-service restaurants, visitors can make reservations beginning April 22. For both table-service restaurants and quick-service eateries, use of the Disneyland mobile app is encouraged.

Households with dining reservations can check in via the app, and those without reservations can add themselves to a mobile walk-up list.

At quick-service eateries, guests are encouraged to use mobile ordering to minimize interactions with the theme parks’ staff. “We’re suggesting people place those orders about half an hour before they want to eat, to avoid delays in getting your food prepared,” Testa said.


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