By David Platt, your Mouse Master specialist to Disney Destinations and beyond
Wow, it’s been a while since my last blog entry. Like a lot of you, I’ve spent the last year focusing on my family and weathering the pandemic. Also like a lot of you: I’m ready to get back to Disneyland and traveling in general!
So what’s new at Disneyland? A lot. Let me hit the highlights:
Welcoming out-of-state visitors
Beginning June 15, 2021, Disneyland Resort will begin welcoming guests from out-of-state. While Walt Disney World has been humming along for quite some time, Disneyland just re-opened on April 30 and has until this point only welcomed California guests. With the continuing downward trend in COVID cases and with California’s new guidance for theme parks, Disneyland will throw open its doors for all United State residents.
All guests ages two and older, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks at all times when inside or outside at the parks and in Downtown Disney. The only time masks may be removed is when sitting down eating or drinking. Stay tuned for any updates on this policy!
EDIT on June 15, 2021: As of June 15, masks are optional for all guests fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated guests must wear masks indoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Disneyland Resort is operating at a greatly reduced capacity in order to maintain physical distancing between guests wherever possible. You might be thinking, “great! That means lines will be super short!” But that doesn’t necessarily hold true: rides are also operating at reduced capacity, so while wait times have been shorter than usual, by no means are lines non-existent or super-short. You should still expect to wait a good amount of time for those hot rides like Splash Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers.
Park Reservations/Park Hopping
Every guest visiting Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure must make a reservation fo the park they want to visit each day. Park Hopping is only available after 1:00 PM, so no hopping in the morning. These park reservations can fill up quickly— as of today (May 31), the earliest Disneyland Park reservation available is July 1. No more waking up in the morning and deciding which park you want to hit based on your mood.
That’s right: FastPasses are put on hold, at least temporarily. The parks are using some of the extra line space to enable more physical distancing. The removal of FastPass does have a hidden bonus, though— because there’s only one line feeding into rides instead of two, the regular standby line moves faster, making the lines feel shorter.
No parades or firework
For the time being, all parades and fireworks are paused. Basically, anything that would cause a large mass of people to congregate has understandably been put on hold. While those nighttime fireworks shows will certainly be missed, not having to claim a Main Street spot an hour early for fireworks or parades leads to getting more things done in the park overall.
EDIT on June 15, 2021: Fireworks will return on a very appropriate date: July 4.
No character meets
I know this one hurts for a lot of people: no close-up character meets, including character meals. You can still see characters from a distance, but no getting an autograph from Cinderella or a photo with Mickey (except at a distance) for the time being. This is for the protection of both guests and cast members. Characters are appearing throughout the parks in new and innovative ways, such as unannounced character cavalcades that travel down the normal parade route.
Many sit-down dining locations remain closed, and those that are open have greatly-reduced capacity. What does that mean? Dining reservations are EXTREMELY hard to come by. You may have better luck with Quick Service dining, but there are big changes there too: all quick service must be done via mobile order on the Disneyland app. Because many more people are using quick service dining than before, mobile order time slots fill up quickly. Setting up your mobile orders a couple of hours before you think you’ll be ready to eat is highly advisable!
Yes, that’s a lot. A Disneyland trip today looks very different from a Disneyland trip in the past, but it’s still possible to have a perfectly magical trip as long as you know what to expect going in. As we’ve all learned in the past year, things are awakes in flux and subject to change at any tine. For the latest on Disneyland updates, watch this space!
I'm David Platt, your Mouse Master Disney Destination specialist. I'm delighted to bring you the latest news on Disney Destinations.