When Will Disneyland Reopen?

“When will Disneyland and California Adventure reopen in 2021?” and “how much longer will the parks stay closed?” are common questions. This covers what Orange County’s improving metrics mean, why the closure will continue the next couple months, and more. (Updated March 9, 2021.)

We’ll start by underscoring the reality that we don’t have a crystal ball, and no one knows for sure when Disneyland will reopen. This is a fluid situation, which should be apparent by the fact that Disneyland was originally scheduled to open last July and now may not reopen until almost a full year later. New data emerges on a daily basis, and plans continue to change.

Moreover, Disneyland’s reopening has been incredibly contentious, a flashpoint between Governor Newsom and several groups/cities/businesses/etc. We aren’t going to recap the whole saga here, but Disneyland’s Wild Reopening Ride is worth the read if you want the backstory of the drama. Hopefully someday we’ll get a DisneyWar sequel that covers some of this…

After having its reopening pushed back three times, there’s another Reopening Update for the Grand Californian. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will reopen on May 2, 2021. During this initial phase, only the Disney Vacation Club villas–and not the hotel side–of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will reopen.

In the nearer term, the only thing open right now at Disneyland Resort is the Downtown Disney District. There, restaurants are operating with outdoor seating and physical distancing, face masks, etc. Note that on some weekends, Downtown Disney fills to capacity. We have full details about all of this in our Guide to Downtown Disney at Disneyland.

For now, Downtown Disney has been expanded inside Disney California Adventure onto Buena Vista Street to help with capacity. A Touch of Disney at Disneyland Resort, a new ticketed event, begins on March 18, 2021 throughout the entirety of Disney California Adventure and runs through April 2021. This is the first step towards DCA and Disneyland reopening as theme parks, which is not be too far away…

The latest development is that California has released new reopening rules that mean Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can reopen as early as April 2021! These and other theme parks will be able to open with rides and attractions next month if Orange County improves to the red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening rules.

Here are the new reopening rules for California theme parks:

Purple Tier – Closed

Red Tier

  • Max 15%
  • Small Groups – Max 10 people or 3 household groups with no intergroup mixing
  • Indoor capacity max 15% with time restrictions
  • No indoor dining
  • Weekly worker testing program
  • In-state visitors only, check for current CDPH Travel Advisory in effect
  • Online ticket purchases only

Orange Tier

  • Max 25%
  • Indoor capacity max 25% with time restrictions
  • Weekly worker testing program
  • With other modifications
  • In-state visitors only, check for current CDPH Travel Advisory in effect

Yellow Tier

  • Max 35%
  • Indoor capacity max 25% with time restrictions
  • Weekly worker testing program
  • With other modifications
  • In-state visitors only, check for current CDPH Travel Advisory in effect

Note that the “in-state visitors” restriction is to keep the theme park reopening rules consistent with California’s existing travel restrictions. It’s worth noting that California had no such quarantine or travel advisory until November 13 of last year–right as cases started to spike.

Our expectation is that the state will lift this travel advisory sooner rather than later. It could possibly be gone by the start of April, but if not, almost certainly by Memorial Day weekend when California’s summer tourism season begins. Expect it to be lifted for theme parks, irrespective of tier status, when it’s lifted for the state as a whole.

This is great news, but it’s not the end of the saga. Of course, the first step is for Orange County, California to improve from the purple tier to the red tier.

The good news there is that all of California’s key metrics–new cases, positivity rate, and hospitalizations–have plummeted since peaking on January 13. The regional stay at home order was already lifted over a month ago, and now we’re seeing some counties make reopening progress.

To that point, new cases are down by over 90% statewide is only 2.1% as of March 9, 2021. (The Los Angeles Times has a good data tracker.) These numbers are projected to continue improving in the coming weeks with vaccine rollout improving. This is great news for California, and for Disneyland’s reopening prospects.

More specific to Disneyland, Orange County remains in the most-restrictive purple tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening plan, but has made significant strides towards the red tier. These numbers are updated every Tuesday, and for the March 9, 2021 update, Orange County qualified for the red tier. (Per the rules, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks to move to a less restrictive tier.)

Regardless, Orange County’s pace of improvements has been impressive and its trajectory is promising. If current trends hold, Orange County will be in the red tier on March 16, 2021. It’s also very likely Orange County will enter the moderate or orange tier on April 6, 2021. (Counties must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before moving to a less restrictive tier.)

Accordingly, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will almost certainly be eligible to open by April 1, 2021 pursuant to the revised California Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

So…what happens next? When will Disneyland reopen?

To give you the short answer, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said during the Walt Disney Company’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders (on March 9, 2021) that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will reopen in “late April 2021.” He indicated that Disney would announce a specific date very soon.

This makes sense, as it allows the hard ticket “Touch of Disney” event to occur as scheduled at Disney California Adventure, and also for Orange County to move all the way up to the moderate tier, which would allow the parks to open at 25% capacity on day one.

With that said, there’s still a lot to figure out in terms of logistics to get Disneyland and Disney California Adventure operational in only a few short weeks. This includes but is not limited to ironing out agreements with unions, calling back Cast Members, re-training said CMs on attractions that haven’t operated with guests (they’ve been cycling throughout the closure) for a full year, placing food & beverage orders, and more. We’ll keep you posted as to an official reopening date once Disney makes an announcement!

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 Disneyland Resort will reopen in April 2021, or do you think that’ll be delayed or pushed back? What’s your predicted date? Are you expecting reduced entertainment and offerings, or think the parks will pretty much reopen with everything firing on all cylinders? 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!

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