The wait is almost over for Disneyland fans.
The gates to the “Happiest place on Earth” and California Adventure will open again on Friday morning for the first time in 412 days – the longest closure for Disneyland in its 65-year history.
But things won’t be quite as they were pre-pandemic, as safety measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus will be in place, including face mask requirements, temperature checks and distancing — and no character hugs.
Thousands of fans tuned in on Monday night when the relighting of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was broadcast live on Facebook as part of a soft reopening event for cast members and crew.
As castle lights came on for the first time in more than a year, “When You Wish Upon a Star” and the sound of Walt Disney welcoming all “to this happy place” on opening day, July 17, 1955, were heard in the background.
Many who were watching commented.
“That just sent chills – funny how something so simple can be so significant,” wrote Suzy Gerry.
Favorite rides await
Most of the popular rides and attractions are expected to be open when guests return, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland.
In Star Wars: At Galaxy’s Edge, reservations will be needed to board the popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and can be made through the attraction’s virtual queue on the Disneyland app.
Perhaps the most anticipated for many at Disneyland is the reimagined Snow White’s Enchanted Wish in Fantasyland with new scenes throughout the ride, including a dancing figure of Snow White joining the dwarfs in their cottage and glittering jewels in the mine, and a new magic mirror.
Disney California Adventure, which has been open for shopping and dining, hosted A Touch of Disney food event on select dates in March and early April.
Friday, however, will mark the first time in more than a year that guests can board rides and attractions – most of which Disney has listed as open, including Incredicoaster, Soarin’ Around the World, Radiator Springs Racers and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout.
The all-new Avengers Campus, which Imagineers have been building throughout the pandemic, is scheduled to open June 4. The new land is taking over the area formerly occupied by “a bug’s land.” It is anchored by Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! Ride and will offer guests a chance to suit up alongside their favorite superheroes.
But strolling down Buena Vista Street in California Adventure and Main Street USA in Disneyland will be different than before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of all California theme parks in March 2020.
Most notably, everyone – cast members and guests 2 years and older – must wear masks, even if vaccinated. Signage and markings on the ground will remind all to keep their distance from those not within their households.
Character greetings are also changing to meet current health and safety guidelines. Guests can’t run up and hug their favorite characters and get a photo. Instead, Mickey Mouse and other characters will wave to guests from various locations, including their homes in Toontown, and properly distanced photos can be taken.
Parades, fireworks and other nighttime events are also suspended until further notice.
The parks are opening at about 25% of capacity while Orange County remains in the “orange” tier for COVID-19. When the county moves to the least restrictive, “yellow” tier, capacity may go up to 35%.
Pre-pandemic, Disneyland averaged about 51,000 guests per day while California Adventure was drawing about 27,000 visitors, according to Themed Entertainment Association, or TEA/AECOM.
Know before you go
Here are some tips to help prepare for what awaits Disneyland and California Adventure guests. More detailed information is available on the Disneyland website, Disneyland.disney.go.com.
Get the Disneyland app: Park hours, schedules, rides and wait times, dining reservations, food orders and more are available through the app.
Tickets and reservations: For now, only California residents are allowed in the parks. Tickets and reservations must be made in advance online at Disneyland.com or through the Disneyland app.
Prices vary, depending on the date and number of days being purchased. For example, one adult ticket – 10 years and older – for one day in one park for can range $114 to $154 each. The more days purchased, the lower the ticket price. For example, tickets start at $72 per day when purchasing for five days. Multi-day tickets must be used within 13 days of the first use.
Park Hopper tickets can be purchased and used the same day.
FASTPASS and Disney MaxPass as well as Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour offerings are suspended until further notice.
Temperature checks: will be required to undergo temperature screenings with no-touch thermometers before entering the parks. Based on state health guidelines, anyone with a temperature of 100.4 F or higher will not be allowed entry, nor with anyone in their party.
Masks: Face coverings can only be removed when actively eating or drinking, but you must be stationary and physically distanced from others when doing so. Eating and drinking are permitted only in designated dining areas and are not permitted while in line or on rides. Masks must fully cover the mouth and nose. No neck gaiters or open-chin triangle bandanas. Check the Disneyland website or app for acceptable face coverings.
Paying with plastic: Guests are encouraged to use debit, credit or gift cards for purchases rather than cash.
Rides and attractions
On its website, Disney lists the following rides and attractions as open on Friday:
- Alice in Wonderland
- Astro Orbitor
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- Disneyland Railroad
- Gadget’s Go-Coaster
- Haunted Mansion
- Indiana Jones
- It’s a small world
- King Arthur Carousel
- Mad Tea Party
- Main Street vehicles
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Tarzan’s Treehouse
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
- Games of Pixar Pier
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
- Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
- Jessie’s Critter Carousel
- Jumpin’ Jellyfish
- The Little Mermaid – Aerial’s Undersea Adventure
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Monster’s Inc.
- Pixar Pal-A-Round – Swinging and Non-Swinging
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Silly Symphony Swings
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Turtle Talk with Crush
Check the Disneyland website or the Disney app for any changes and for a list of dining options.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas