Residents across Orange County continue to await the reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. For many, it’s because they love the happiest place on earth and can’t stand going so long without visiting. For others, it’s because they’re employees of the Walt Disney Company and desperately need to get back to work.
While state restrictions currently mean Disneyland and California Adventure will likely remain closed through the spring, they’ll probably reopen later this year. When they do, things are going to be a bit different. But how? We can assume the health and safety protocols will be identical to those currently in place in Florida’s Walt Disney World, which reopened last summer. With this in mind, here’s what to expect when Disneyland reopens later this year:
All guests entering Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be expected to wear face coverings at all times, except when actively eating or drinking in a stationary position. Whether guests choose to wear N-95s, disposable facial coverings, or cloth face masks, they’ll need to keep them on when taking pictures and waiting in lines. Failure to do so will result in guests being asked to leave the park.
Reduced parks capacity
Since guests must practice physical distancing at all times, the number of people allowed into the parks will be cut back to 1/3rd or less of maximum capacity. That means you’ll need to plan your visit ahead of time with reserved ticket purchases. While reduced capacity sounds like shorter wait times for popular attractions, the distancing markers in ride queues and limited seating mean wait times will probably even out to what it was before the pandemic.
No live performances indoors
As of now, there’s no practical way to protect the health of live performers without massive investment in protective shielding separating the audience from the stage. Even then, the risk of transmission among singing performers in a confined indoor area is too high to justify the reopening of live shows. Even outdoor performances are expected to be drastically reduced, with scheduled parades getting substituted by smaller “surprise” cavalcades.
Popular restaurants throughout Disneyland and California Adventure are expected to reopen with the parks, but seating will be severely limited. Reservations will be essential.
Longer downtimes for rides
Cleaning protocols will likely involve temporary closures while ride cars are sprayed with disinfectant, wiped down, and allowed to air dry. As someone standing in line, this will be experienced as a five-to-ten-minute period where the queue seems to stand still.
Changes to ride loading and unloading procedures
Frequent visitors to Disneyland can probably navigate queues and board rides while blindfolded. However, due to Covid-19, loading and unloading procedures have changed, so pay attention when approaching the boarding gates of Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other favorites.
No-nonsense instructions from Cast Members
Disney parks employees – referred to as “Cast Members” – are renowned for their patience, politeness, and courtesy. However, given the pressure to ensure guests comply with health and safety protocols, don’t be surprised if a worker sternly reminds you to keep your distance and wear your mask correctly. They’re looking out for the health and safety of everyone.
Whether they work there or consider it their home away from home, thousands of people across Orange County can’t wait for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to reopen for business. With that said, guests and employees need to prepare themselves for how the happiest place on earth will be different this year.