The Reopening of Disneyland: What To Expect & What Has Changed

Disneyland California Ferris Wheel

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With the rollout of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine happening across the country, theme parks in California are finally reopening. 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 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 Castle Security Guard with a Mask
Image Credit: Disneyland Twitter

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.

To open all of these properties safely, Disney has a big list of changes that are going to be made that will need to be approved by local and state governments.

Enhanced Health and Safety Measures

Disneyland is 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

Both guests and Cast Members will be required to wear face coverings. As we have seen with Walt Disney World’s reopening precautions, Disney will classify 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

However, as of June 15, 2021, fully vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear face masks either indoors or outdoors. Guests that are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a face mask when indoors except while dining.

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.

Physical Distancing

Disneyland is operating reduced capacity and hours, with additional signs to help guests navigate the park more responsibly. The park is currently operating at 25% capacity.

Furthermore, select attractions and experiences that tend to attract large crowds (such as parades and nighttime spectaculars) will not be available upon reopening.

Although character meet-and-greets will be temporarily unavailable, guests can still expect to see characters throughout the park.

Temperature Checks

All guests entering either the Downtown Disney District or the theme parks will be required to undergo a temperature check through June 15, 2021. 

Additionally, Cast Members will be required to complete daily health screening and temperature checks.

From what we have seen at other theme parks, the maximum temperature allowed will be 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

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.

Reopening Dates

Guests entering Star Wars Galaxys Edge at Disneyland
Image Credit: Disney

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park reopened on April 30, 2021.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and The Disneyland Hotel

Guests can currently book a room reservation at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is scheduled to open on June 15, 2021, and The Disneyland Hotel will open on July 2, 2021.

Both guests and the general public can enjoy dining at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa as of May 28, 2021.

Downtown Disney District

The Downtown Disney District began reopening on July 9, 2020, with limited parking and entrances, as well as a whole list of health and safety measures.

As of November 2020, visitors can extend their Downtown Disney trip into the Buena Vista District of the Disney California Adventure Park for additional shopping and dining options.

For complete details on what to expect, visit the Downtown Disney District website.

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 Passholders, 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.

New Ticket Sales

New theme park ticket sales resumed on April 15, 2021.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Reservations

Disneys Grand Californian Hotel Resort and Spa reservation
Image Credit: Disney

Guests can make reservations at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel will reopen on June 15, 2021, and The Disneyland Hotel will open on July 2, 2021.

Hot Tip: Even if you have a hotel reservation and a ticket, you will still need to park a reservation to get into the parks. 

Dining Reservations

Disneyland Dining at Goofys Kitchen
Image Credit: Disney

Under normal circumstances, guests can make a dining reservation up to 60 days in advance. Currently, there are no dining reservations available.

There is no official word from Disney regarding dining reservations and new procedures at Disneyland. But, we wouldn’t be surprised if it were similar to what Walt Disney World will be implementing.

Max Pass, FASTPASS, and Experiences

Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland does not use the advanced reservation system, FastPass+. Instead, guests can utilize the FASTPASS option that requires getting a physical ticket from the desired ride.

There is a paid version of this called Max Pass, but it does not allow for future reservations like at Walt Disney World. That means guests do not have to worry about their ride reservations that they made months before Disneyland was closed.

However, like Walt Disney World, certain rides and guest experiences will be delayed even after the parks reopen.

Guests can expect attractions that gather large groups, such as parades and nighttime spectaculars, will be temporarily suspended, along with character meet-and-greets.

Hot Tip: Skip the queue and go on an immersive virtual ride on the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in our guide to the best virtual tours and field trips for kids and students.

Transportation

Disneyland Monorail
Image Credit: Disney

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.

Unfortunately, the Monorail will remain closed until further notice.

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

Disneyland Fireworks
Image Credit: Disney

After being closed for 13 months, it is exciting to get back to the parks. However, there will be some attractions that will remain closed or suspended.

We also know that initially the following events will be temporarily suspended:

  • Parades
  • Nighttime spectaculars
  • Character meet-and-greets

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

Hand sanitizer
Image Credit: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

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:

Final Thoughts

Walk Disney and Mickey Mouse statue at Disneyland
Image Credit: Travis Gergen via Unsplash

California was really hit hard with the coronavirus and residents are in the process of being vaccinated. With cases dropping, Disneyland successfully reopened in April 2021.

If you really need your Disney fix, you can also get some of that magic by visiting the Downtown Disney District, Disneyland Park, and Disney California Adventure Park.

If you’re visiting the parks, you will need to hope that you can be one of the few who get a reservation to get into the limited capacity park to enjoy a physically distant Disney day.

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!


Frequently asked questions

Does Disneyland California require face masks?

As of June 15, 2021, fully vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear face masks either indoors or outdoors. Guests that are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a face mask when indoors except while dining.

Disney will classify 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

When will Disneyland California reopen?

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park reopened in April 2021.

The Downtown Disney District reopened in July 2020 with limited parking and entrances, as well as a whole list of health and safety measures.

Do I need a reservation and a ticket to visit Disneyland in California?

Yes, all guests, including those with existing tickets as well as Annual Passholders, will need to secure a park reservation in addition to their admission ticket. Once a reopening date has been set, there will be more information released about how to make reservations.

Can I still make dining reservations at Disneyland?

Disney has canceled all existing dining reservations and suspend new reservations until a reopening date has been set. Once a date has been set, a new reservation system will be rolled out to accommodate those who had reservations canceled.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

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