What’s Returning to Disneyland in 2022

When will Disneyland bring back Fantasmic, World of Color, parades, stage shows, or ____?” have become common questions, with fans wondering when things will get back to normal. This post offers a predicted return timeline for Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. (Updated February 1, 2022.)

Basically, we’re going to consolidate the answers to all of those frequently asked questions. We’ll start by underscoring the reality that Madame Leota is not employed by this blog, which is to say that we don’t have a crystal ball. Circumstances remain incredibly fluid and evolving at Disneyland. Even the company’s highest-level leaders couldn’t give you definitive answers to some of the questions below.

Months ago, that was due to public health guidance continuing to change. Now, that concern still exists, but has faded into the background. Its place has been taken by woes in scaling up operations to meet pent-up demand, exacerbated by staffing woes. These two things in tandem coupled with a faster-than-anticipated rule relaxation has created something of a perfect storm, with Disneyland playing catch-up…

That isn’t to say predictions are pointless when it comes to Disneyland’s return to normalcy. Just that if you’re looking for definitive answers, you’re embarking on a fool’s errand. In the current environment, nothing is certain until it actually happens. Even an official announcement from Disneyland doesn’t guarantee that, as the company has cancelled and postponed many plans already. (Anyone remember the original reopening date, some 8 months before it actually happened?!)

Basically, we’re trying to manage your expectations, so you understand the nature of what you’re about to read. Nothing is 100%, and some of these predictions have a confidence level far lower than that. While predicated upon reliable rumors, even those can be—and frequently are—wrong. There are competing plans, circumstances change, etc. With that out of the way, let’s turn to the Q&A…

At what point will Disneyland return to full capacity?

Okay, so this is not actually a question many people are asking, or at least, not worded this way. It’s not like anyone is itching to bring back the overcrowding and congestion of the past. However, it is being asked indirectly.

The biggest impediment is that operational locations are short-staffed and ones that have yet to reopen need to hire and train new Cast Members. Pent-up demand is off the charts right now, and all health safety restrictions have been lifted. The primary limiting factor is a lack of Cast Members. Unfortunately, the company was caught off-guard by the speed of America’s reopening and labor market realities.

This is hardly unique to Southern California or Disneyland. You’ve probably seen similar stories on your local news about the hospitality industry having a tough time finding workers. We’ve also discussed it in countless articles. Nevertheless, it’s worth reiterating once again for those who are new to the site.

Disney has had some success in hiring, but thousands more employees are needed. It’s not a quick fix. We hope some of these shortages work themselves out by Spring 2022, but we’re no longer completely optimistic–there are many complicating factors and some of these issues will persist for years.

When will ___ restaurant reopen?

For the status of dining options in the parks and at the hotels, see List of Open & Closed Restaurants at Disneyland Resort.

The good news is that there are only a handful of notable locations still on the closed list.

When will Fantasmic return to Disneyland?

No return date has been set for Fantasmic at Disneyland, beyond “Spring 2022.” Our guess is that it’ll happen before Easter and Spring Break.

As part of the recall process, Disneyland recently brought back several dozen entertainment cast members. This includes backstage support positions necessary to get shows like Fantasmic back up and running, as well as parades.

When will Magic Happens parade be back?

Hopefully by Summer 2022.

Unlike Fantasmic and World of Color, Disneyland has not said a word about the Magic Happens parade. However, it was literally brand new when the parks closed–only a couple of weeks old. Its return would be a big draw among the many locals who have not yet had a chance to see it. The bigger question is whether Magic Happens returns to Disneyland or moves over to DCA, which might be in greater need of entertainment.

When will World of Color return to Disney California Adventure?

Officially, sometime in Spring 2022.

It appears that the big refurbishment, replacing wood structures rotted and light towers, is largely finished. However, we’d still expect World of Color to be one of the last pieces of entertainment (among those that have been officially announced) to come back. By Easter 2022 still seems likely, though.

When will Paint the Night or Main Street Electrical Parade return?

Disneyland has announced that Main Street Electrical Parade by Spring 2022. Honestly, we figured it would already be back by now, as a way to draw crowds during winter. However, that has not happened, so precise timing is anyone’s guess.

Don’t expect to see Paint the Night anytime soon…except maybe in Florida. There are reasonably credible rumors of it moving to Walt Disney World for the second half of the 50th Anniversary, but nothing official.

Will character meet & greets be back soon?

Disneyland is doing a fantastic job with distanced character interactions, but it’s still likely that dedicated character meet & greet locations will return at some point. We have not heard any rumors about this, and it’s probably not high priority.

Now that Disney is distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated Cast Members and allowing the former to go mask-less, it’s plausible that Disney will likewise assign only vaccinated performers to meet & greet roles. That could pave the way for meet & greets to return by Spring 2022.

It’s a similar story with character meals, which are mostly back in modified form. Expect those to drop the modifications simultaneous with traditional character meet & greets replacing the distanced sightings.

When will Disneyland resume Magic Key sales?

This is another thing we assumed would’ve happened with the start of Winter 2022, but has not.

At this time, it’s likely dictated by demand and park capacity. As soon as Disneyland is able to hire more Cast Members, resume more entertainment, and absorb more crowds.

When will park reservations end for Disneyland & DCA?

Our expectation is that reservations will never really go away, but the current system will evolve so that it’s not as cumbersome for casual visitors.

The reality is that reservations are here to stay for Magic Key Passholders. That’s not a temporary thing.

When will Park Hopping be allowed before 1 pm?

Park Hopping is dictated by capacity, so those rules could be relaxed literally any time now.

However, loosening Park Hopping rules may not be viewed as a high priority by Disney. Additionally, it might be advantageous for the company to maintain the existing policy to help control crowds and keep attendance for DCA artificially high. It’s also a good way of managing the number of guests attempting to enter the second virtual queues for Web Slingers and Rise of the Resistance.

Ultimately, I think that about covers the big things about which readers regularly ask questions. If there’s anything we missed, please feel free to mention it in the comments and I’ll update accordingly. As a final reminder, the above is all subject to change, and based upon a mix of credible rumors and rampant speculation.

Some of this will end up being pretty close to accurate, other predictions will be wildly wrong. Do not book a trip to California in reliance upon the timelines above. While we think the totality of these predictions paints an accurate picture of the trajectory of Disneyland’s post-reopening progress, individual elements could return much earlier or much later than we expect.

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!

Your Thoughts

Are you anxiously awaiting the return of Fantasmic, World of Color, Magic Happens, Paint the Night, Main Street Electrical Parade, or anything else? Have any of your own predictions? Insights based on rumors you’ve heard? Surprised Disneyland is bouncing back comparatively quickly after the much longer closure than Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions? 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!

23 Responses to “What’s Returning to Disneyland in 2022”
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