After a 412 day closure, Disneyland has finally reopened! I was there on opening day and I can confirm that, despite the changes and restrictions, the magic is still all around. However, if you are planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort in 2021, there’s a lot of new information guests need to know about.
I’ve recapped everything on my Disneyland Reopening Guide, but in this article I’ll be sharing the most important points and some tips I’ve learned from actually being there.
Obviously the situation regarding the coronavirus and the restrictions are changing rapidly. I will update this article with new information as it develops. But I encourage all guests to check out the official Disneyland website for the most up-to-date-information.
Keep reading for the most important items you need to know about when visiting Disneyland in 2021.
Visiting Disneyland with Coronavirus Restrictions
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1. Right now, only California residents can visit the Disneyland theme parks. And we aren’t sure when this will change.
Back in April the state of California announced only California residents can visit California theme parks. Just recently the guidance was updated to include out of state guests who can show proof of vaccination. However, Disneyland is not allowing out of state guests at this time.
Bottom line? If you are not a California resident, you cannot visit the Disneyland parks until Disneyland updates their policy!
2. You must have a park ticket AND a park reservation. With guest capacity at 25%, Disneyland is requiring guests to make theme park reservations for the day(s) they want to visit. This helps control the crowds.
Also, with the suspension of the Annual Pass program, every guest must have a ticket.
Here’s how to get tickets and reservations:
‣ Step 1: Purchase your tickets. Decide on how many days you want to go, and if you want one-park or park hopper tickets. Click here for more details on Disneyland ticket types and current prices.
For discount Disneyland tickets, I recommend Undercover Tourist. Save up to $25 off the ticket booth prices!
‣ Step 2: Once you have your tickets purchased, you’ll need to make a theme park reservation. Click here to see the availability calendar and make reservations.
3. Park hopping *IS* allowed but only after 1pm. And you must have a Park Hopper ticket. If you have a one-park-per-day ticket, you can only visit the park you chose when you made your reservation.
4. Masks are still required except when sitting down and actively eating or drinking. Disneyland has added plenty of additional seating and tables to accommodate guests who need to take a break. However, masks must stay on at all other times, including while on attractions and while taking photos. Guests cannot eat and drink while walking or while waiting in queues. This is a big adjustment, so my recommendation is to plan water breaks often and before you think you need one!
5. The Disneyland Resort hotels have extremely limited access. The only hotel open right now is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and only guests with an active reservation may visit the hotel grounds. IMPORTANT TIP: You may see hotel locations like Hearthstone Lounge or Craftsman Bar and Grill pop up on your app for mobile ordering, but only active hotel guests can visit these locations.
6. The Disneyland mobile app is a must. With social distancing in place, the Disneyland app is more important than ever before. You scan your ticket, see a map, check attraction wait times, make dining reservations or mobile order food, and check PhotoPass images all within the app. IMPORTANT TIP: Be sure to bring a phone charger with you! I recommend a Fuel Rod, which you can swap at kiosks throughout the parks.
7. Get familiar with mobile ordering for food. With only two sit down restaurants operating at each park right now, food options at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are extremely limited. Mobile ordering through the Disneyland app is a must. I suggest planning your meals a couple hours ahead of time, and avoid peak mealtime hours (noon and 5pm) if possible. And keep in mind, some places like Ronto Roasters – the only dining option inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the moment – book up fast.
IMPORTANT TIP: The Starbucks locations (Market House at Disneyland, and Fidler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure) are open but do NOT use mobile ordering. And the lines are very long in the morning. Plan accordingly!
8. Some of your favorite perks may not be available right now. That includes FastPass, MaxPass, Extra Magic Hours, Magic Mornings, and Single Rider queues. The good news is, with reduced capacity (currently at 25%), these queue short-cuts aren’t really needed. Most attraction wait times were around 10-20 minutes, with the longest queue being for the newly reimagined Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. And even I never saw the posted wait time top 45 minutes. (NOTE – Rise of the Resistance, which was only open for a couple months before Disneyland closed in March 2020, still uses a virtual queue. You can read my article about Rise of the Resistance for more information.)
There are also no parades, no shows, no fireworks, no Disneyland band, and no character meet & greets. But, keep your eyes peeled for new, socially distanced character interactions!
9. Disability Access Service and rider switch is still available. For Disability Access Service, visit the Guest Services areas next to City Hall (City Hall is closed for now) or at the end of Main Street near Plaza Inn. IMPORTANT TIP: If you have any Guest Services questions, look for the Cast Members wearing red and blue plaid. There are many standing around near the front of the park and can be spotted all around the different lands. They are there to assist guests with any questions!
For rider switch, inquire at each individual attraction before joining the line.
10. PhotoPass is available AND is a great value! For a limited time, guests can purchase an all-day PhotoPass+ for only $19.99! Purchase in the Disneyland app and you’ll get access to your photos right away!
11. Yes, you can still get your Happy Birthday, I’m Celebrating, and First Visit buttons. With City Hall closed, ask about celebration buttons at any retail store.
So, is Disneyland even worth visiting with all these restrictions? It’s an enthusiastic “YES” from me. While the current version of Disneyland is stripped down to the basics – attractions, food, and shopping – it was simply magical for me to just be inside Walt’s park.
I am not sure I would recommend Disneyland in its current state for a first visit or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, but for locals (the only people allowed in the parks right now anyway), it’s a relief to have this iconic California landmark back open.