It’s a big day for Disneyland & Disney California Adventure, which just announced reopening plans and official opening dates for both parks, plus Downtown Disney and the resort hotels. In this post, we’ll share the details, including temporary health safety protocol, rules, plans, reservations for entering the parks, and more.
Regular readers of our Disney Closure & Reopening Updates have probably seen our past ‘progress reports’ from California, which has had less frequent updates than Walt Disney World. In part, this is because there’s no public-facing economic recovery task force in California’s Orange County, meaning no updates are coming directly from Disneyland Resort representatives. Instead, we have press conferences from Governor Newsom, but for some odd reason, those don’t fixate on theme parks.
By way of quick recap, California’s Resilence Roadmap is currently in its bifurcated Stage 3, with select counties now allowed to begin reopening hair salons, barbershops, and religious services. These activities add to a growing list of businesses that can be resumed statewide or in certain counties, including in-person retail shopping and dine-in restaurants.
Starting June 12, schools, day camps, bars, gyms and professional sports could all reopen with modifications. While the State of California provides guidance on businesses that can reopen, counties decide when and the specifics of how that will occur. Each county’s local health officer has the discretion to determine whether it should move forward.
Movie theaters are also allowed to reopen Friday, at 25% of capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. This comes via new rules for Family Entertainment Centers (which specifically do not apply to amusement, water, or theme parks).
Nevertheless, we have separate news with regard to Disneyland. Let’s start with the phased reopening dates…
Pending state and local government approvals, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel plan to reopen on July 23, 2020. No reopening date has been announced for Disneyland Hotel at this time.
Additionally, Downtown Disney District will begin reopening on July 9, 2020.
Sixty-five years to the date after the historic opening of Disneyland, the gates will once again on July 17, 2020, welcoming guests back to Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom.
Disney California Adventure will also reopen on July 17, 2020.
Because theme park capacity will be significantly limited to comply with governmental requirements and promote physical distancing, Disneyland Resort will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that will require all guests, including Annual Passholders, to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance.
Theme park reservations will be subject to availability. More details will be released at a future date (we expect it to be similar to the system already in use for the Disney Flex Annual Pass). At this time, there will also be a temporary pause on new ticket sales and Annual Passport sales and renewals. Additional details regarding this will also be available soon.
Once approved by Orange County and California leaders, Disneyland Resort will reopen with enhanced health and safety measures. While Disneyland did not reveal specifics, you can bet these will be in line with Walt Disney World, meaning masks, temperature screenings, etc.
Certain experiences that draw large group gatherings (such as parades, fireworks, World of Color, and Fantasmic and nighttime spectaculars) will return at a later date. Character meet and greets will also be temporarily unavailable, but characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain guests. Additionally, a Guest Experience Team will be available throughout the parks and Downtown Disney District to assist guests with questions regarding these new policies.
Pending governmental approval, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel plus both Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Disney Vacation Club Villas at Grand Californian Hotel are planned to reopen to guests and members starting on July 23, 2020.
Plans to support physical distancing as well as increased cleaning measures, along with a number of other health and safety protocols, will be implemented as part of the phased reopening of the hotels and Disney Vacation Club. More details about hotel policies, including temporary changes will follow.
Downtown Disney District will begin reopening on July 9, 2020. This will occur in line with California’s reopening guidelines, with its variety of third party shopping and dining experiences resuming operations, plus the World of Disney store. With the health of guests and Cast Members at the forefront of planning, several operational changes will be implemented based on guidance from health authorities to promote physical distancing and cleanliness throughout the Downtown Disney District.
Additional information on enhanced health and safety measures and operational changes for reopening locations will be shared soon. These policies are under continuous review and are subject to change as the Disneyland Resort monitors conditions and receives guidance from health and government authorities.
With the details and dates of Disneyland’s reopening out of the way, let’s turn to some past predictions we’ve made about low crowds at Walt Disney World when the parks reopen, deals, etc. (see our Dawn of a Temporary Disney Era and Post-Reopening Crowds & Discounts at WDW).
It bears reiterating that none of those predictions apply to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure.
Due to divergent demographics and the California complex being more compact (so much for the blessing of size right now!), things are very different for Disneyland Resort.
For starters, Disneyland Resort has a colossal local audience. Los Angeles and Orange Counties are home to a ton of diehard Disneyland fans, many of whom are Annual Passholders. While the scales have tipped a bit in recent years, there’s still a huge local AP-base and even larger potential audience within driving distance of Disneyland.
Pent-up demand among Floridians might fizzle out in a week or so at Walt Disney World, with crowds dwindling until tourists return. That’s unlikely to be the case at Disneyland Resort, where growing demand and comfort in resuming daily life could cause theme park reservations for Disneyland and DCA to book quickly for months. Walt Disney World operating at 20-30% capacity will be easier, as it’s likely demand will be below that for the first several months.
In Florida, attendance will limit itself organically, as an overwhelming majority of tourists don’t want to fly or be in large venues right now. Even those who are comfortable traveling might be limited by economics–with consumer confidence plummeting and unemployment skyrocketing, fewer people will book expensive vacations. Then there’s the matter of lag between booking a trip and actually traveling.
That’s all dramatically different for Disneyland Resort. For most visitors, the California parks are not a once in a lifetime vacation that requires months or years of planning. Rather, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are more akin to the mall or beach for many locals–often spontaneous spots to go.
A good percentage of visitors decide the night before or day-of whether they’re going to Disneyland. For the most part, that is simply not the dynamic at Walt Disney World. Accordingly, all of our past predictions for Florida almost certainly will not apply to Disneyland Resort.
Hundreds of thousands of locals have pre-paid admission in the form of Annual Passes or discounted Southern California Resident tickets that were sold in the off-season but have since had their expirations extended.
Beyond that, there are simply far more people within a short drive of Disneyland Resort, and road trips are definitely going to be the preferred form of summer vacation this year for many Americans. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s no shortage of inexpensive third party hotels across the street from Disneyland Resort that will be open this summer; whereas the status of WDW’s Value Resorts is presently unknown.
The good news is that Disneyland Resort will soon be back, and won’t be closed for the 65th Anniversary of Walt Disney’s original park. We feared that might be the case, especially when California’s Reopening Roadmap was initially released and it sounded as if theme parks, concerts, and sports were all off the table until 2021.
The other good news is that it’ll be much easier for Disneyland get back on its feet and resume a greater sense of normalcy at some point this year. Disneyland Resort lacks the complexity and demographics barriers that will be significant impediments and complicating factors for Walt Disney World. It doesn’t have a surplus of ADRs, FastPass+, or Disney Dining Plan reservations to cancel. This also means there are likely to be fewer complaints with regard to the reopening process–Disneyland is less planning-intensive, and its visitors are more ‘go with the flow’ in the first place. Hopefully, this is just the start of the good news!
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!
Will you be visiting Disneyland or Disney California Adventure right away when the parks resume operations in July or will you wait? Surprised by the details of Disneyland Resort’s reopening announcement? Optimistic that things will be “back to normal” at Disneyland sooner rather than later? A variety of viewpoints are welcomed here, but we will not tolerate insults, arguing, or politically-charged comments. Don’t ruin a 95% fine comment with an unnecessary cheap shot–that 5% will get it deleted. Additionally, please do not debate the efficacy of masks or other health safety policies–all such comments (for, against, otherwise) will be deleted. Those arguments are played out and isn’t the appropriate forum for that. (Saying you will or will not visit in light of certain measures is fine.)