Disney California Adventure Partially Reopening for Shopping & Dining
Another update in the Disneyland Resort reopening roller coaster, as Disney California Adventure will be partially reopening for Christmas shopping & dining along Buena Vista Street. This post covers dates, details, and what this could mean for future plans.
We aren’t going to recap the entirety of the “Disney v. California” closure/reopening saga. The most recent developments are documented in our recent Disneyland Closure Update: Reopening Rules Fallout & Litigation and Disneyland Unlikely to Reopen Before Summer 2021, which remains true for the theme park operations despite this move. Disneyland’s Wild Reopening Ride is worth the read if you want the full backstory of the drama.
What’s pertinent for the purposes of this news is that Downtown Disney reopened as planned over the summer and has been operating since. Restaurants are operating with outdoor seating and physical distancing, the use of face masks by employees, increased cleaning procedures, and limited-contact. Some retail locations, including the World of Disney, use a mobile wait list system to manage the number of guests shopping.
We have full details about all of this in our Guide to Downtown Disney at Disneyland. Worth noting is that on most weekends and some other days, parking at Downtown Disney has filled to capacity. That’s just for shopping in World of Disney and eating at some random third party restaurants. In other words, there’s clearly pent-up demand among Californians to get their “Disney fix.”
That’s good news for Disneyland Resort, because they also have a backlog of unsold souvenirs. Not only is there merchandise that was in the parks when they unexpectedly closed, but orders were placed for Halloween and Christmas items months ago when it was assumed Disneyland and Disney California Adventure would be reopening in July.
Even with Downtown Disney open and relatively popular, it’s obviously not as popular as the two theme parks, and thus, a huge surplus of merchandise continues to build. In an attempt to help remedy this, Disneyland Resort recently unveiled the Backlot Premiere Shop Located in Stage 17.
That store added needed shopping capacity, with the Backlot Premiere Shop featuring an assortment of merchandise from World of Disney, Disney Home, and the Disney Dress Shop. (While accessible from outside the park, this store is actually inside Disney California Adventure and was previously used for the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire — Play It! attraction before the big overhaul of DCA.)
Unsurprisingly, the Backlot Premiere Shop was still insufficient and with a reopening date for California theme parks not until some point in 2021, Disney needed another solution for moving unsold merchandise. Enter the latest plan: reopening Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure.
Disney California Adventure’s version of Main Street will soon open select shopping and dining experiences, for visitors to enjoy a memorable meal or a fun shopping excursion.
Disneyland Resort has announced that beginning in November 2020 (specific date TBD–our guess is by Veterans Day at the latest), the Downtown Disney District will “extend” to Buena Vista Street. When it does, the following venues will reopen for shopping & dining:
- Holiday shopping? Head to Elias & Co. The store is divided into distinct sections for men, women and children, so you’ll find something special for the entire family.
- At Julius Katz & Sons, peruse even more holiday merchandise and Disney-themed home décor.
- Kingswell Camera Shop offers great gift-giving ideas like frames, photo albums and more. Buena Vista Street stores have a variety of your Disney favorites.
- If you are looking to tempt your taste buds with a snack, Trolley Treats offers classic candies, old-fashioned confections and all kinds of freshly made treats.
- Vending carts will offer popcorn, churros, ice cream and other “must-bite” treats.
- Swing by Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe for the enchanting sights and sounds of Buena Vista Street–and a cup of Starbucks coffee or artisan sandwich.
- Sit-down dining options include Carthay Circle Lounge, where you can unwind in our expanded outdoor seating area featuring an all-new menu of cocktails and dining.
- Smokejumpers Grill is serving up tasty American classics for lunch and dinner with a streamlined menu of burgers, fries, onion rings and craft beer, located just around the corner from Buena Vista Street. The primary way to place your order at this dining location is through mobile order on the Disneyland App.
Only the shopping and dining locations along Buena Vista Street will be accessible from the Downtown Disney District at this time, as Disney California Adventure is currently closed. (Presumably, access will be via the corridor behind Soarin’ Over California that was used during the big DCA 2.0 overhaul several years back.)
In addition to the rest of Disney California Adventure being closed, the number of guests visiting the Downtown Disney District and its locations, including the shopping and dining experiences along Buena Vista Street, will be limited to promote proper physical distancing. We’re guessing there will be multi-hour waits to enter DCA.
Honestly, we are way more excited than we probably should be about this news. We also have more thoughts than are probably necessary–we’ll spare you many of those. Suffice to say, we see this as a really positive development. One small step that opens up the possibility for a huge leap in the right direction.
First and foremost, this means some Cast Members can get back to work. This might seem like a “little thing” but in addition to the Cast Members working the retail and restaurants, this will support jobs for security, parking, custodial, and so many other roles. That’s not an insignificant number of jobs.
Second, this paves the way for the return of even more at Disneyland Resort. While this is an “extension” (Disney’s term to sidestep the theme park reopening rules) of Downtown Disney, much more of the park could conceivably reopen in the very near future.
Disney managed to throw this together in the few days since California released its rules; there’s nothing to say they can’t roll out more plans between now and the normal start of the holiday season (November 6, 2020).
There is a ton of demand for the return of Disneyland Resort in any form, even limited to shopping and dining. The big issue is not a lack of enthusiasm–it’s a lack of capacity. Opening up Buena Vista Street alone won’t be enough to absorb the crowds that will descend upon Disneyland.
If you’re a Walt Disney World-centric tourist who visits those parks primarily for the attractions, this may not make sense to you, but the way many Californians visit Disneyland is fundamentally different. These are locals parks, and there’s not nearly as much of an emphasis on attractions. Heck, many Californians already treat Disneyland like a mall or hangout spot. (We’ve derided this practice in the past, but holy cow will it work to Disney’s advantage right now!)
It would be incredibly easy to extend the portion of Disney California Adventure that’s open even further into the park. Hollywood Land and the entertainment corridor that runs from Buena Vista Street to Cars Land would be prime candidates and would allow DCA to up its capacity and open more dining options.
The latter is an especially attractive, as that’s normally where the Festival of the Holidays food booths are located. And of course, bringing back the national treasure that is Award Wieners would result in multi-mile lines.
At this point, unloading the excess merchandise is probably priority number one, which explains why Disneyland isn’t charging admission for visiting Buena Vista Street.
However, it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see Disneyland Resort take this a step further, and open deeper areas of the park as part of a hard-ticketed dining event, a la Taste of Knott’s. That has been incredibly successful for Knott’s Berry Farm, which has a passionate local fanbase, but not nearly as passionate as Disneyland’s.
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but things could snowball from there. It’s conceivable that Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa could reopen (or at least the Disney Vacation Club portion of the property) along with more around Disneyland Resort–basically anything that isn’t a ride or a show.
This in turn brings more traffic to the Anaheim Resort Area, which means spillover guests for the family-run businesses along Harbor Boulevard and elsewhere. Obviously, this small development is not going to magically “save” all of them, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction and offers a glimmer of hope.
All of this might sound overly optimistic, but it’s impossible to overstate the level of excitement and pent-up demand among locals for Disneyland. It’s simply not the same dynamic as in Florida for Walt Disney World. Disneyland is a Southern California institution, and even something like this that might seem insignificant to you is colossal for many Californians. This incremental progress will not only draw a ton of people to Disneyland, but it also could be the starting point for much bigger things. Stay tuned, as we’ll keep you posted on further announcements!
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
Do you think the “extension” of Downtown Disney to Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure is a big development for Disneyland? Expect that Disney will ramp things up from this if it goes well? Think there will be big crowds to experience Buena Vista Street shopping & dining? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I hope they open Main Street in Disneyland before the end of the year! If the silhouette shop is open, I will drive the 6 hours from Phoenix to get silhouettes of my kids. We have one from every year since my daughter was 1 and I would hate to miss a year. We went in March for one day to ride Rise of the Resistance, but we didn’t get a silhouette then, because we expected to be back before the end of the year.
Being on the east coast I (and many DisneyLAND fans) cannot make it to the new Disney Backlot Premiere Shop. Do you think Disney execs will open up to on-line purchases. I would love to see a website we can order from specifically from this new store.
I went to the store yesterday and I do not believe they are selling much (or any?) merchandise that is not currently available or will be available on Shop Disney. And prior to the opening of the backlot store all of the merchandise was available at other stores in Downtown Disney. I believe the main reason behind opening the new store is just to have more physical space for people to go, as the wait times to get into the other Disney owned stores at downtown Disney could often be hours long on weekends.
Is there anyway Disneyland execs will provide a website that we can order on line for those of us that are no where near the west coast. I would love to get some of the items I’m sure are in The Disneyland Backlot Premier Shop. Christmas is coming and anything Disney is a hit in our home!!
To me, it seems that having most of SoCal descend on DCA’s Buena Vista Street, without ticketed admission to control (over)crowding, is counterintuitive to the stated health-based objectives of Governor Newsom. His administration need to be transparent about the science that has led them to conclude opening theme parks, with precautions in place, would be detrimental to the public health. Many other theme parks have reopened in the US, including 4 operated by Disney, and many more across the globe, including another half-dozen either owned or branded Disney. Is there a single outbreak of the virus that has been traced to one of these parks? On the other hand, outbreaks have been traced to some of the other businesses which have been allowed to reopen in California (such as indoor dining). Given the number of jobs and livelihoods that depend on the parks, both directly and indirectly, Newsom and his team should be working much harder to come up with solutions that would allow them to reopen the parks sooner, rather than kicking the can down the road. Limiting (reserved) attendance to Californians, more frequent disinfection of ride vehicles and other touchpoints, enforced mask-wearing, permitting only outdoor dining, and closing theatrical venues are some of the more pragmatic – and achievable – measures that can, and should, be considered. I am sure Disney, Universal and the other big players would be willing to accommodate most, if not all, of these precautions.
Gavin Newsom is the “ science “ because he is the law, and that’s the problem. ( He controls all state health agencies, and is the supreme executive in the state.)
Really well said.
This is great news! You are so right on about the different dynamic at Disneyland vs WDW-for many, the rides aren’t the biggest draw. It is as much a fun date night or night out with friends as it is a family outing. I’d love to see them do reservations though. The idea of standing in line for hours to get in isn’t very appealing. I think my kids will be disappointed about the rides, but this sounds about perfect for my husband and me. Hopefully, this is a first step and a testing ground of sorts to show that we So. Cal. Disney fans can follow the rules and the parks can reopen! *fingers crossed*
Is this similar to what Knott’ Berry Farm has been doing since around June, or is my East Coast mind incapable of keeping track of those things “over there?”
At this point any thing they can do to open any part of their property is smart business!! It would be interesting if you could go threw the park as a shopping and eating experience where only carts like at Epcot food and wine set up outdoors and open all the shops around the park where people can shop and eat. Would be a unique experience. Can bring the rides online later. Charge a small fee as people will be going to spend money. But will be a bridge for some employees to work and not lose their jobs.
I appreciate your optimism!
PS Now is the time to figure out how to get a Dole Whip machine into DCA.
Also, just my opinion, but this kind of underscores that Disneyland could use more casual table seating in general, especially covered al fresco seating. I have been there when it is raining cats and dogs and there is very few places to go to take cover and sit and eat or have a snack. Even worse in Disneyland than in DCA. Disney relies a lot on the “eat and stroll” concept. Plus the rainy season is coming.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they considered this in the future? Just wishing I guess.
I get that they probably really wanted to do an opening that includes attractions, but I have been wondering for weeks why they haven’t done something like this! They could open the parks with food and shopping only and have no problem filling to limited capacity. I think people will be happy to just be able to be IN the parks. I’ll be so tempted to go, but I think we’ll most likely wait a little bit to let the initial demand calm down slightly.
Union negotiations make these tasks significant undertakings. It’s much more difficult for Disney to get moving on these sorts of things compared to Knott’s. I think the thing most people have been forgetting when calling for Disney to do this is the sheer amount of red tape Disney has to cut through, some self-imposed but most not, to get anything done.
Great idea! Not to mention they probably have a TON of 65th anniversary march to move also! I did a quick look at Knotts Berry Farm and their “Taste of” event runs on Wed. through Sundays and everything is sold out! I think Disney should take a page out of their play book and run it the same way with a “tasting” card sold in advance, that way they can handle the people coming and control capacity in advance! The last thing anyone would want would be long lines of people standing in line (for who knows how long!) and not socially distancing!
It looks like the Knotts Event is 1 tasting card per person and appears no additional purchases, so that probably is to get people from just hanging out for the day.
My fear is the “eating and walking” problem, especially with the description of cart snacks mentioned above. I would love to see them do a outdoor sit down dinner-say on Friday & Saturday nights- wouldn’t that be a cool date night? The winery place and the wharf area come to mind-but I imagine security to keep people from running all over could be a problem. Heck I’d even eat at FLO’s V8 and watch the street light ceremony for a fun night out. They could probably even add tables in the courtyard area. But they would have to require ADR’s for something like that to work.
But I do think demand is going to be greater than capacity, thus the “hard ticket” concept is probably the best or some kind of reservation at the least.
I worried they’d never swallow their pride and do something that Knott’s did first. I’m glad they have.
I think they should open both parks without attractions to help spread out the crowds. Even with limited capacity, I still feel like the Buena Vista Street stores/restaurants will be packed. They could also sell socially distanced entertainment experiences for big bucks. I’d pay extra to watch Fantasmic and not have those awful crowds. There are so many ways they could make money and keep Cast Members working.
Spot on assessment. I would venture to say DL and DCA could open up their gates with only shopping and dining locations available (no attractions), charge a slightly reduced admission price, and they could still fill the parks to limited capacity.
This is genius, and a way to move forward. I love it.
Keep all the rides/shows closed open up Disneyland Main Street up the hub and rename DL a mall or dining district…