Will Disneyland reopen in 2021? The latest updates as California Adventure looks to ticketed events

February 24, 2021 0 By boss


Disneyland California

Disneyland, California, has been closed since March 2020.

Corinne Reichert/CNET

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In 2020, Disneyland closed its gates due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 For the first time in its 65-year history, the iconic California theme park shut down for a month on March 12 — and remained closed.

Disneyland Resort became a mass coronavirus vaccine site instead of a theme park destination in early 2021. The Toy Story parking lot began serving up coronavirus vaccinations on Jan. 14 as Orange County’s first vaccine super site. Disneyland Resort had “stepped up” to host mass vaccine distribution and would be “absolutely critical in stopping this deadly virus,” the county said.

Here’s the latest on when Disneyland and California Adventure will fully reopen, and why they haven’t while most of Disney’s other global theme parks, including Walt Disney World on the opposite coast of the US, have.

Will Disneyland reopen in 2021?

Disneyland initially announced an optimistic reopening date of July 17, 2020, its 65th anniversary. But it was forced to backtrack on those plans when California declined to issue theme park guidance. California finally revealed its theme park reopening guidelines on Oct. 20.

Orange County is now sitting at 11.7 new coronavirus cases per day per 100,000 people, with a 5.4% positive rate on test results as of Feb. 23, 2021. Those numbers began dropping five weeks ago, with reopening starting to look increasingly likely.

California will allow Disneyland to open only once Orange County is in the minimal tier of COVID-19 transmission — meaning less than one daily new case per 100,000 people, as well as less than 2% of tests coming back positive. However, a draft bill from two California Assembly makers on Feb. 4 would see large theme parks pushed into the moderate tier for reopening — where there can be up to 3.9 daily cases with positive test rates of up to 4.9%. Orange County is currently in the widespread tier.

California Adventure launching ticketed events in March

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of California Adventure, the secondary Disneyland theme park will be hosting ticketed events in March, multiple publications reported on Feb. 8. Disney is planning to reopen food and beverage in Pixar Pier, Cars Land, Grizzly Peak and Pacific Wharf, according to a report.

The events will reportedly take place on multiple days in March, and will be timed ticketed experiences where guests can enjoy food, beverages, merchandise, entertainment and shopping. It coincides with the usual timing of California Adventure‘s annual food and wine festival, and will allow around 1,000 employees to come back to work, Ken Potrock, Disneyland Resort president, told cast members in a letter.

Disney has yet to say anything official, but the events will reportedly see the entire California Adventure theme park (minus the rides) reopen, apart from the new Avengers Campus.

The main street area of California Adventure theme park had initially reopened on Nov. 19, including Buena Vista Street and parts of Hollywood Land, for dining and shopping.

California Adventure’s current reopening includes all stores in Buena Vista Street, as well as dining locations like the Carthay Circle Lounge, Smokejumper’s Grill, Award Wieners, Starbucks and carts for churros and popcorn. Disney has yet to announce whether it’s planning to similarly reopen the shopping and dining locations along Main Street USA in Disneyland.

What will Disneyland look like when it reopens?

Once Disneyland does reopen, park capacity will be limited to 25% and reservations will be required. Plexiglass has already been installed at the park entry points.

Smaller theme parks — those with a total capacity of 15,000 people or fewer — are permitted to reopen once their county reaches the orange or “moderate” tier, but they’ll be capped at 25% attendance or 500 people, whichever is less. Only outdoor attractions can be open, reservations are required, and only locals can attend.

While we’re waiting for the parks to reopen, you can check out some behind-the-scenes magic on the Disney Parks TikTok account, or the Disney Parks YouTube channel.

Downtown Disney is open

The Downtown Disney shopping and dining area reopened six months ago on July 9 in line with California’s restaurant and retail opening guidelines.

Between December 2020 and January 2021, Orange County was subject to strict stay-at-home orders due to ICU capacity falling below 15%. Restaurants were forced to close in Downtown Disney and California Adventure, but Gov. Newsom lifted the lockdown orders on Jan. 25.

Currently, all dining and shopping locations in Downtown Disney are open, apart from locations in the Disneyland HotelDisney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. To visit Downtown Disney, you can only park in the Simba parking lot, and must undergo a temperature screening, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing. The area is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., or 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Disney opened a new Star Wars Trading Post in Downtown Disney in mid-February so you can get your Star Wars merchandise fix while Galaxy’s Edge is closed.

Disneyland cancels and refunds annual passes

Disneyland announced Jan. 14 that it’ll be canceling its annual passholder program for now.

“Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations around the reopening of our California theme parks, we will be issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current program,” Disneyland President Ken Potrock said in a statement.

Disneyland is “developing new membership offerings” for when it reopens. Those who held an active annual pass as if March 14, 2020, are now called “Legacy Passholders” and will continue getting discounts for now when shopping or dining at Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. Legacy Passholders will also get early access to the new Star Wars store and Wanda Vision photo op, both of which are coming to Downtown Disney soon.

Why was Disney World allowed to reopen?

Disney was able to reopen the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios way back in July. It was permitted to do so by Florida’s less-strict state and local guidelines.

The Orlando Disney parks have social distancing and wellness measures, including temperature screenings, wearing masks, keeping guests six feet apart while lining up for attractions and a guest reservation system to limit capacity. Fireworks have also been suspended.

Disney Springs shopping and dining area reopened on May 20 with limited parking, fewer entrances, temperature screening before entry, masks required, physically distanced lines and barriers, reduced hours, no entertainment and more sanitization and disinfectant. Disney-owned stores and restaurants in Disney Springs began reopening May 27.

Layoffs across the US theme parks business

Vacationers aren’t the only ones affected by Disneyland’s continuing closure — Disney announced on Sept. 29 that it would lay off 28,000 US employees, citing reduced capacity at its theme parks due to social distancing requirements, as well as California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”

In an SEC filing on Nov. 26, Disney revealed it would be laying off an additional 4,000 employees, for 32,000 total.

Disneyland reached an agreement with 11 unions representing its workers as of Oct. 14, according to the Orange County Register, so that it’s ready to open immediately as soon as permitted. The California Health and Human Services Agency reportedly sent state health officials to assess Disney World in Florida during the first week of October, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.


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