After over a year of closure, on April 30, 2021 Disneyland Resort officially reopened its doors to the public. While we have been fortunate to visit Walt Disney World twice since it reopened post COVID shutdowns, it was extremely special to make it back “home” to Disneyland on May 8th. This blog will discuss the experience on that day, but please note that even since our recent visit, policy is rapidly changing. Theme park capacity has increased with an expected full statewide reopening on June 15th in California that will potentially reopen the resort to out of state visitors. Over in Florida, mask and distancing policies have been relaxed with updated CDC guidelines and it’s likely those will follow with local California policy changing in June at Disneyland as well. In the meantime, here’s what it was like to visit the Happiest Place on Earth a week into its reopening with COVID protocols…
First and foremost, we had an amazing experience staying across the street at Courtyard by Marriott Theme Park Entrance. We stayed here in summer 2019, and it was fun to return as a family on only their third night being open again since the pandemic! Our corner family suite was amazing, and for Mother’s Day weekend it was perfect to be able to sit in bed and stare at the Matterhorn with the knowledge Disneyland was open for business. Our kids had a blast at the waterpark with its amazing slides and splashpad, which is requiring reservations for time slots, but doesn’t require masks at the pool itself and has super staff and lifeguards onsite. We loved lounging and watching the fun – even the hot tub was open! This continues to be one of the best local hotels for families visiting the Anaheim Resort area, and is even nicer after updates during the COVID closure.
When it comes to visiting Disneyland itself… perhaps the biggest change is making sure you have a park reservation! We were able to score some reservations with pre-existing hopper tickets we held from before the shutdown, but there was some definite competitive chaos when the reservation system opened to the local public in April. Fortunately, things seem to have settled down and plenty of local Californians are scoring tickets to visit the Resort. The reservation was initially a bit confusing and complicated, but seems to have been simplified for the eager visitor. You need to determine whether you’re buying a one day ticket or a (recommended) park-hopper, and if so which parks are available to “start” in that day. You can change to the other park after 1pm. We were able to start in Disneyland, and didn’t end up hopping to DCA until close to 4pm (both parks closed at 7pm) to hit some of their big attractions and have dinner.
Masks are strictly required as of this writing in all areas and strictly enforced. You use your QR code on your phone and your tickets to confirm entry into the park with a reservation. The good news? Lines are fairly short and move quickly. Things do get tricky without being allowed to queue indoors, and having to use a lot of park space for social distancing and spread out lines. However, we expect a lot of that to loosen come June when restrictions are lifted. Lines often look extremely long, but end up only being 10-20 minutes because of the distancing and the lack of a FastPass line, which means no stopping and waiting for those ahead. It’s very “old school” Disneyland, and feels like a light crowd day in the winter or spring season. However, I expect as capacity rises and summer travel hits, this may change. 🙂
Our highlights of the day included seeing an updated and refreshed Haunted Mansion – which looks amazing, especially the pet cemetery – and the new makeover of Snow White, which is now Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. We loved it! We also loved visiting Galaxy’s Edge (Boarding Groups, available at 7am and again at 12 noon on the Disneyland app, are still required for Rise of the Resistance which was a blast to ride, though is modified right now because of COVID protocols) and doing some favorite classics like “it’s a small world.” It will be fun to visit again when the Matterhorn and Jungle Cruise reopen, as well as Avenger’s Campus over in DCA. All in all, they definitely took advantage of the closure to do some work on the attractions and spruce the place up, so that was really cool to see. The entire park looked very fresh and clean.
One of the biggest things to note before visiting is how to use the Disneyland app for Mobile Food ordering. This was very backed up, and we ordered our lunch and dinner a good 60-90 minutes before we wanted to eat. They are doing some sit down dining with table service as well, but it’s at limited capacity and reservations are being snatched up quickly. Again, we hope this improves as more cast is brought back to work, more options reopen, capacity rises, and eager Disney fans get their fix after a long pandemic.
We are extremely excited about Paradise Pier Hotel and Napa Rose/Storyteller’s Cafe reopening soon, followed by more dining options inside Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel is coming back on July 2nd with its fun dining options as well! Are you ready to visit the Disneyland Resort for the first time in over a year? Contact me to plan your stay!