“When will Disneyland and California Adventure reopen to out of state guests?” and “when will the parks allow non-California residents?” are common questions now that the parks are both open. This covers Orange County’s improving metrics, the state’s plan for summer, and more. (Updated May 26, 2021.)
Let’s start by recapping where things presently stand. Downtown Disney District reopened months ago, and is mostly operating as normal with retail and dining. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has begun its phased reopening, and the hotel’s Disney Vacation Club villas are also open. Next up is Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, which will reopen on June 15, 2021 with reduced capacity. Following that, Disneyland Hotel will plan to reopen on July 2, 2021 with reduced capacity.
Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure theme parks both began their phased reopening at the end of April, with a variety of health safety protocol in place. To visit, guests need a valid ticket and a theme park reservation for the same day and same park they want to visit. Per Disneyland’s official website, “only California residents may visit the parks, and in groups no larger than 3 households, per state guidelines.” That rule brings us to the titular question of this post…
As with the theme park reopening in general, California’s rules for in-state v. out of state visitors has been quite the saga. We first reported on this one month ago in “Vaccinated Out of State Visitors May Be Allowed at Disneyland & DCA.” That was prior to the parks reopening, and while some details have changed since then, much of that remains relevant.
Basically, there are multiple places where the state publishes its reopening rules. In California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Industry Guidance for Amusement & Theme Parks and Activity and Business Tiers. The last lists rules and parameters for each sector, and is what has been updated with new guidance for theme parks.
Back in April, the aforementioned Activity and Business Tiers document received an addendum for fully vaccinated visitors and spectators: “Fully vaccinated persons from out of state may visit or attend activities or events that are restricted to in-state visitors. Fully vaccinated persons should consult the current CDPH Travel Advisory and adhere to any applicable recommendations.”
Further down in that same addendum, fully vaccinated is defined as including children over 2 who are not eligible to be vaccinated if they are tested. Children younger than 2 do not need to be tested. The California Department of Health (CDPH) has clarified that this includes theme parks. However, Disneyland has not changed its policy for current visitors.
Interestingly, Disneyland.com still says that there rules not allowing out of state visitors are “per state guidelines.” That’s now inaccurate, and has been for nearly one month.
While Disney can choose to restrict attendance to residents if the company so desires, that would be better accomplished by not mentioning the state’s guidance at this point. In fact, one might construe the “per state guidelines” note on Disneyland.com as incorporating by reference the vaccinated exception of the actual state guidelines. That’s my interpretation, but “no one else thinks like that” (or so I’m told).
Other theme parks in California, including SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, and Universal Studios Hollywood (we’ve already visited USH–you can read our Universal Studios Hollywood Reopening Report for more info on how things are going there) have updated their rules to conform with the new guidance from California to allow fully-vaccinated visitors from out of state.
Conversely, Knott’s Berry Farm, which reopened in late May 2021, is not allowing fully-vaccinated out of state visitors and is using almost identical verbiage to Disneyland: “Until further notice, attendance is limited to party sizes that will not contain more than 3 households and are California residents only, per state guidelines. Proof of residency may be required upon entrance.”
It’s pretty clear that any park operator that has not yet changed its policy does not intend to do so under the current rules. So what’s next? When will Disneyland and Disney California Adventure allow out of state visitors?
The likely date Disneyland and DCA will allow residents of states other than California to visit is June 15, 2021.
May 26, 2021 Update: Disney has confirmed this, quietly announcing the policy change via a banner at the top of Disneyland.com with the following: “Until June 15, 2021 only California residents may visit the Disneyland Resort theme parks in groups no larger than 3 households. Proof of residency may be required.”
Out of state visitors may start booking their Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park reservations immediately for visits on or after June 15, 2021. We would recommend erring on the side of caution and making reservations ASAP, but it’s likely more will be released in the weeks to come as Disney increases park capacity.
Also beginning today, the booking window for theme park reservations at Disneyland and DCA has expanded out to 120 days. As always, we recommend buying discounted Disneyland tickets from Get Away Today!
Also stated in this new banner change on Disneyland.com: “The State of California strongly recommends that all Guests be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the theme parks. As always, our procedures may change as we continue to update our health and safety processes based on guidance from the state of California and local health officials.”
“If planning to travel, please check and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and any State travel advisories.”
This makes sense, as June 15, 2021 is when California fully reopen its economy, and move to the “Beyond the Blueprint” Framework. This means that all sectors, with an exception for indoor and outdoor mega events, may return to normal operations with only general public health recommendations.
Under the newly-released recommendations, the first and biggest change is the removal of all capacity limits and physical distancing requirements, regardless of setting. That means restaurants, stores, museums, and even theme parks can operate at full capacity. When it comes to face masks, California is planning to fully align with recent CDC guidance come June 15, 2021.
According to a statement from the CDPH, theme parks are considered outdoor mega events, characterized by large crowds greater than 10,000 attendees. This means that theme parks do have special guidance in addition to the general public health recommendations.
Verification of fully vaccinated status or pre-entry negative test result is strongly recommended for all theme park attendees. Guests who do not verify vaccination or test status should be asked to wear face masks. Attendees must follow CDPH guidance for face coverings.
Information will be prominently placed on all communications, including the reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware that California strongly recommends that they be fully vaccinated, obtain a negative test prior to attending the event, or wear a face covering. Additionally, venues are required to make available masks for all attendees.
However, note that all of the above–besides the warnings–are recommendations and not rules. Theme parks can choose to require vaccinations or negative tests for entry, or neither. There’s absolutely no reason to believe any parks in California will require vaccines or tests. It cuts against recent precedent (see above) and would also require additionally staffing. Masks are a different story entirely–it’s unclear whether Disneyland’s rule as of that date will mirror the new ‘outdoor optional’ policy at Walt Disney World.
Keep in mind that just because physical distancing and other rules can be dropped doesn’t mean they will be. The last month has demonstrated that, just because California allows something, doesn’t mean that Disneyland will follow suit.
In fact, we’ve seen the same play out at Walt Disney World, where stricter rules have remained in place even after Florida fully reopened. However, the critical difference there is that Florida has been one of the most lax states in terms of rules (or lack thereof), and Walt Disney World has erred on the side of caution and kept its rules more or less consistent with Orange County and CDC guidance.
Ultimately, it’s nice to now have official confirmation that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will allow out of state visitors to enter the parks beginning June 15, 2021. Given the verbiage in the banner change, this should be regardless of vaccination status, too.
California’s reopening process has been rocky, to put it mildly. What’s different this time is that there’s more clarity to the “beyond the blueprint” plan and less fluidity. More than anything else, this is a removal of rules, rather than more layers of protocol and requirements. While there’s still some ambiguity and uncertainty, it’s not nearly to the degree of before, and almost everything is a recommendation rather than a rule. That all should pave the way relax capacity caps and physical distancing, as it’ll be beneficial to business during the summer vacation season.
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!
Excited for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to open to out of state visitors on June 15, 2021? Do you think the parks will require guests provide proof of vaccinated or a negative test result? Any expectations with regard to other rule changes beginning June 15, 2021 at the parks? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!