After the rollout of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine across the country and world, theme parks in California have finally reopened. That means, with certain precautions, we are starting to see some of our favorite things come back to normal — including Disneyland.
Disneyland Shanghai was the first Disney park to reopen in May 2020, followed by the reopening of Tokyo Disneyland and then Walt Disney World in Florida in July 2020. We thought that Disneyland Resort in California would be right behind, but that was not the case.
Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park finally reopened on April 30, 2021. And the Disney experience is quite different with crowd controls and new safety protocols being implemented to help keep guests and Cast Members as safe as possible — but that is not a bad thing!
If you plan on visiting, be prepared for some changes (that will likely continue to change).
What Has Changed at Disneyland Resort
Disneyland Resort began a phased reopening, starting with its Downtown Disney District on July 9, 2020.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Park, and Disney California Adventure Park all were scheduled to open in July 2020 as well, but those dates were pushed into 2021 — now all are finally open.
To open all of these properties safely, Disney made a big list of changes that have been approved by local and state governments.
Enhanced Health and Safety Measures
Disneyland is constantly working with local government as well as unions to make sure that Cast Members and guests are protected. Guidelines are fluid and subject to change but are similar to what we are seeing at other theme parks around the world.
The enhanced health and safety measures will include:
Enhanced Protective Measures
Starting February 17, 2022, fully-vaccinated guests are not required to wear a face mask at indoor or outdoor locations. Guests ages 2 and older who are not vaccinated are required to wear a face mask in all indoor locations.
All guests, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a face mask on Disney shuttles and in health settings such as First Aid.
Disney classifies a face covering as something that:
- Completely covers an individual’s mouth and nose while being hands-free
- Fits comfortably and snugly along the side of the face
- Should be secured with ear loops or ties
- Can be reusable or disposable, but should be made out of a breathable material
Hot Tip: Just remember, the rules for character masks and costumes have not changed. That means that adults will not be able to use a Storm Trooper helmet, for example, as a face covering. Check out our guide to what items are banned from bringing into Disney parks before your next trip.
Vaccination Requirement or Negative Test
The State of California and Disneyland and strongly recommends guests be vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 test to visit the park. However, this is not mandatory.
Guests also visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, which sits in a different country, will be required to be vaccinated or provide a negative test result to enter the park.
Disneyland is requiring reservations to help with crowding, along with additional signs to help guests navigate the park more responsibly.
Guests can expect to see characters throughout the park and other fun events.
Limited Contact Enhancements
Disney is officially recommending cashless transactions to help reduce unnecessary guest and Cast Member contact.
Guests can expect to see more options for contactless payment including Apple Pay and mobile ordering via the Disneyland app.
Enhanced Cleaning and Sanitation
Although Disneyland is already known for being squeaky clean and picture-perfect, the parks will now build upon existing standards of cleaning with heightened protocols.
These protocols will be in place for both guests in the park as well as for Cast Members backstage.
New Reservation System
When Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park reopened, they did so with a new reservation system to help control park capacity and promote physical distancing measures.
Guests will need a ticket and a reservation in order to enter the parks. Once you have your ticket, you can select from available dates to visit.
Revised Park Reservations
All guests, including those with existing tickets as well as Annual Pass holders, will need to secure a park reservation in addition to their admission ticket.
Previously, guests only needed to show up to the gate with an admission ticket (or purchase 1 at the gate) to get into the park.
Bottom Line: Even if you have a hotel reservation and a ticket, you will still need to park a reservation to get into the parks.
Most dining reservations are available.
To book a Disneyland dining reservation, you can visit the official website or use the app.
Max Pass and FASTPASS have been retired and guests can now use Disney Genie and Disney Genie+ to help plan their day at the parks and even pay to skip the lines at select attractions.
Compared to Walt Disney World, Disneyland has a much smaller footprint, so getting between parks and hotels is not quite as intense.
Disneyland is serviced by the Disneyland Monorail that connects Tomorrowland and the Downtown Disney District.
The Disneyland Monorail reopened on October 15, 2021.
Hot Tip: If you decide to plan a trip, be sure to check out our recommended credit cards for Disney vacations.
What to Expect at Disneyland Resort Hotels
Disney, as a company, has revealed updated safety standards for its hotels around the globe.
Guests will notice changes in 2 main areas: at the resort and in the guest room.
At the Resort
Changes start at check-in, with more options for online check-in and redesigned bell and luggage services.
Aside from the obvious increase in hand sanitizer available, Disneyland Resort hotels will be increasing cleaning in high-traffic areas such as in elevators, on handrails, public benches, lobby tables, restrooms, and more.
Upon reopening, guests should also expect to see limited capacity and services at resort restaurants, pools, and fitness centers.
Technology is always at the forefront with Disney, so the increased use of contactless payments will be aiding in these efforts.
In the Room
All guest rooms at Disneyland Resort will receive enhanced cleaning techniques that are being rolled out worldwide.
Currently, these techniques include updated practices for cleaning tools, as well as managing in-room amenities, linens, luggage, and more.
Guest rooms will receive the updated enhanced cleanings before arrival, followed up by a light cleaning service every other day during the stay.
Hot Tip: Thinking of building a beach day into your California trip? Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are just under 30 minutes from Anaheim! Check our guide to the best beaches in California for more details.
What Will Not Be Available at Disneyland
Most rides and attractions have returned, with some small safety adjustments.
For complete details on what to expect at Downtown Disney, visit the Downtown Disney District website.
If you are planning a trip, you can find out exactly what will be open by checking out the Disneyland Experience Updates.
What To Pack for Your Next Disney Vacation
Although packing for Disneyland isn’t quite as daunting as packing for Walt Disney World, doing so during a pandemic can get tricky.
If you will be flying or staying in a hotel room, you will certainly want to sanitize your airplane seats and hotel rooms.
Regardless, your packing list will probably want to include the following:
California was really hit hard with the coronavirus and rules are constantly changing. With cases dropping, Disneyland successfully reopened in April 2021 and has remained open since.
If you really need your Disney fix, you can get some of that magic by visiting the Downtown Disney District, Disneyland Park, and Disney California Adventure Park.
If you’re visiting the parks, be sure to grab a ticket and a reservation as Disneyland is still managing capacity.
For a preview of how things will look in California, be sure to keep an eye on how Walt Disney World in Orlando has reopened!