Fans eager and excited to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park lined up for hours to enter the theme parks Friday morning as they reopened for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 13-month closure.
But with capacity limited and currently restricted to in-state visitors only, guests will no longer simply be able to go to the ticket booth and buy admission on the day of their visit. Gone too are the days where annual passport holders can simply show up, cards in hand, and be scanned in at the gates — that program was sunsetted during the shutdown.
The coronavirus has changed many things in the past year, and the protocol for going to Disneyland will be no exception. From new requirements to a reservation system, fans will be navigating some changes as the theme park brings back the magic.
There are three requirements to enter the “Happiest Place on Earth”:
- A ticket and a reservation: A ticket alone will no longer guarantee guests admission to the Anaheim theme parks. In advance of its reopening, Disney announced that it would be switching to a reservation-based system, whereby guests sill have to purchase a ticket and specify the date they will be visiting. The system was a source of frustration for many trying to get one when Disneyland first began selling tickets online two weeks ago, with some reporting online wait times of five hours or more as soon when the system opened April 15 at 8 a.m. due to overwhelming demand.
- California residency: The popular tourist destination is only allowing in residents of the Golden State, at least to start. For now, a proof of residency is required to purchase a ticket and make a reservation.
- No isolation or quarantine orders: People who are under isolation or quarantine orders as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure to the virus will not be allowed into the theme park, according to Disney.
The reservation system
Disney opened up its online reservation system on April 12 to those who bought tickets prior to the pandemic-related closure, and then on April 15 to the general public.
Ticket costs have not changed since the theme park expanded its tiered pricing to five levels shortly before the shutdown started, and range from $104 to the $154 to visit a single park, depending on the day the guest picks. The park hopper option adds $55 to the total cost, and multi-day tickets can still be purchased.
Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance and are currently available for both May and June. As of Friday morning, some dates for both theme parks were completely sold out, while on others only California Adventure was available, according to the reservation calendar.
For those wanting to get into Disneyland over the next two months, the park hopper option had much more availability. One note about the park hopper tickets: unlike in years past, guests won’t be able to get into the second park until after 1 p.m.
“We highly recommend that you make your theme park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase, as availability can change until the reservation is finalized,” Disney’s website says.
Other things to know
As has been the case since the Downtown Disney District reopened last summer, a slew of health and safety measures are in place at the Disneyland Resort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They include:
- Mandatory masks for most: Those ages 2 and older are required to wear a facial covering, except when eating or drinking (or swimming at a pool at one of the resort’s hotel). In the case of dining, visitors have to be stationary and physically distance themselves from others outside their party.
- Temperature screenings: Guests will have to undergo a temperature check prior to entering Downtown Disney and/or the theme parks. Because anyone with a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be denied entrance — as will everyone else in that person’s party — Disney recommends visitors do their own screenings at home as a precautionary measure.
- Cashless transactions: While not a requirement, Disney advises guests use a cashless payment option, such as a debit, credit or gift card, to purchase food and merchandise. The Disneyland app features mobile ordering, a convenient option that allows people to pay online and pick up their food instead of waiting in line.