Disneyland Park Reopening 2021 – What You Should Know Before You Go
We went to Disneyland at the very end of May. It was a blast. And although much is still the same, there are plenty of things that aren’t the same. Officially, the park reopening date was restricted to Californians only. However, on June 15th – the date California is set to fully reopen every aspect of their economy – Disneyland plans to open up at full capacity to tourists from outside California as well.
For those visiting before this date, they can expect to find a reasonably crowded park with a few key differences thanks to the pandemic.
Outdoor Ride Queues
In order to comply with safety measures due to COVID-19, Disney has moved its indoor ride queues to mostly outdoors. This was the same as at Harry Potter World – for the Forbidden Journey ride, guests spend most of their wait time outside Hogwarts castle. Once you get to the front of the line at the castle, there virtually is zero wait to get on the actual ride itself.
The same concept is at works in Disneyland. For example, at the Indiana Jones ride (which features a similarly fantastic, indoor queue area as the Forbidden Journey), Disneyland has guests line up all the way back and through the currently closed Jungle Cruise wait area, as well as in the outdoor waiting area for Indiana Jones. Not only is this convenient for COVID purposes, but it was actually kind of cool to hangout in the Jungle Cruise area since it’s currently closed and you can’t go there otherwise.
One other major difference you will notice right away is the fact that currently, Indiana Jones is taking riders who first must register for a boarding group, await their allotted time, and then get in line for the ride.
As a slightly perturbed guest behind me said “what’s the point of a virtual queue if you still have to wait in line?” I, however, didn’t mind the virtual queue schtick as I imagine however long the line for the ride was with it, it would’ve been even more crazy without it.
My advice – just enjoy the excellent ambiance of the park around you and don’t worry about the line! It goes super fast once you actually get to the indoor part – a little too fast as it can be challenging to see all of the excellent props and decorations therein!
Lots of Cleaning Stations
So I think this addition is a good idea regardless of COVID. There are now handy hand washing stations randomly throughout the park, as well as plenty of hand sanitization spots everywhere.
Mobile Food Ordering
If you are hoping to get reservations at the Blue Bayou or another iconic Disney Restaurant then good luck. We weren’t able to find much in terms of availability at the restaurants in Disneyland. What we were able to do, however, was order plenty of mobile food to go.
Placing mobile orders to go is relatively easy to do – it works the same as it does at fast food restaurants. Just place your order, then notify them via your app when you are nearby. When the app's bars go all green, you are ready to go pick up your order.
Although mobile ordering was already available in the park, one major difference since Disneyland’s reopening in 2021 is that mobile ordering is now often the only way to get many prime food options, including the coveted Dole Whip near the Tiki Room.
If there is a specific place you want to get food from, be sure to check in before your expected ordering time to ensure you’ll get a space.
Socially Distanced Rides
A blessing and a curse – social distancing on the rides means you have plenty of personal space. I flew the Millenium Falcon via Smugglers Run all on my own, and raced through Indiana Jones with nobody beside me. The tradeoff, of course, is that the line moves considerably less quickly.
All in all, however, the social distancing on the rides made the ride experience more pleasant for me, so this is one regulation I won’t mind if they keep.
In addition to the rides being spaced out quite generously, lines are also spaced out. Although people bump shoulders around the rest of the park, in queues its expected that you stand a pace of at least 6 feet apart, and there are markers on the ground that you are encouraged to follow.
I didn’t mind this aspect either. It sort of felt like a game of musical chairs as you tried to make sure you were standing on a marker when the line stopped moving.
The Park is Busier than You’d Think
I’m not sure how Disneyland is figuring what 25% of park capacity means, but it certainly didn’t feel like a sparsely populated park. My guess is that Disneyland is basing that number on the total possible number of people allowed to be in the park before the Fire Department shuts them down. It is not representative of 25% of the daily average, meaning there are still a ton of people at Disneyland despite the restrictions.
Within Disneyland, it was nearly impossible to find a place to sit and eat except for late at night. California Adventure, however, seemed to have a lot more seating available no matter the time of day.
My recommendation is if you are ordering food to go (which seems to be the easiest option) – don’t bother trying to find seating in the immediate area. Scout out an area in the less crowded sections of the parks to sit and take a break from your busy Disneyland day.
Don’t Take Your Mask off Inside the Rides
When I went to Universal Studios recently, it seemed as though wearing a mask was only minorly enforced (like in most places in California). However, at Disneyland, that’s a different story. Even though restrictions are easing up all around the state, Disneyland doesn’t operate that way. If a workers sees you walking without a mask, they will tell you to put your mask on. If you aren’t wearing a mask in a ride, they will see you, and they will yell at you over the speaker system in front of everybody.
I wouldn’t mess with the mask restriction if I were you.
Disneyland Reopening and Rides Closed
Wether due to COVID-19 restrictions, or plans to remove politically incorrect content from rides, there are plenty of attractions and rides closed in the park. Notable closures include: the Matterhorn, the Jungle Cruise, Tom Sawyer’s Island Finding Nemo Submarine Boat and beyond. Also, most of the shows are closed, including Fantasmic and the Fireworks/projection shows, and character interactions are greatly limited and massively socially distanced.
That being said, despite the restrictions, the crowds, the ride closures and the hard to find dining areas, we had an absolutely amazing time at Disneyland, and I think the Mouse Kingdom is doing a good job of appeasing the COVID era restrictions while keeping the fun coming.