On March 5th, the State of California issued guidance that allows theme parks to open as early as April 1st if they are in the Red Tier for COVID-19. Please note that this DOES NOT mean that Disneyland will open on that day. There is still much that needs to happen before Guests can walk in and their olfactory system picks up the Pirates of the Caribbean water. SO WHEN WILL DISNEYLAND REOPEN? I will answer that question at the end of this article, but first I will explain what needs to happen to set that date.
First the Orange County COVID-19 metrics need to be in the Red. Metrics are updated every Tuesday at this website. To move from one tier to the next, Orange County must be have numbers in the less restrictive tier for a minimum of two weeks before moving into it. If any of the numbers are high, the County will remain in that more restrictive tier. Once all the numbers are Red or better, the two week count begins and if all numbers are still Red or better after two weeks, Orange County will move to Red. This was just announced to happen as of Sunday, March 14th! When Disneyland opens in the Red Tier, capacity will be limited to an overall capacity of 15%. The cap rises to 25% once a county progresses to Orange and 35% upon reaching the most lenient tier, Yellow.
Next is the Human Resources aspect. Disney needs to call thousands of Cast Members (CMs) that were furloughed and laid off back to work. Once they are back, they will then be trained on all new protocols. This will take a few weeks, and many CMs have publicly stated that they are being called back.
When Disneyland opens, ONLY CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS WILL BE ALLOWED. The State of California has noted on their website that all reopening Tiers (Red through Yellow) are only for in-state visitors (residents). Disney has not released how they will control this, but they have in the past been able to issue Annual Passes to Southern California Residents and Annual Pass payment plans to California Residents, so they know how to execute this type of limitation.
While in the Red Tier, indoor ride capacity is also at 15% with time limits. This mean not everyone can line up for Rise of the Resistance at the same time, and it also could mean that Disney decides not to open some rides that create difficultly in maintaining this metric. Also, there will not be indoor dining in the Red Tier. Sorry, you will have to miss your experience dining at Blue Bayou, but there are MANY outdoor dining locations throughout the Disneyland Resort.
Disneyland announced on March 12th that Park Reservations will required due to limited capacity, meaning all Guests will need to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. More details about this new reservation system will be available soon, but it is expected to be similar to the one used at Walt Disney World in Florida. They also added the following to their website:
- Upon reopening, certain theme parks, hotels, restaurants and other locations may be limited in capacity and subject to restricted availability or even closure based on guidance from health experts and government officials. Furthermore, certain attractions, experiences, services and amenities will be modified, have limited availability or remain closed. Park admission and offerings are not guaranteed. We will provide more information as it becomes available. We reserve the right to cancel any reservations, admission media or purchases and provide applicable refunds. Please also see our policies regarding cancellations by Guests.
- As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on operations, FASTPASS and Disney MaxPass services are suspended for the time being and are not available for purchase or use. We will share future updates at a later date.
- Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour offerings will be suspended upon reopening of our hotels and theme parks as we plan to manage capacity. We will share any updates on these offerings at a later date.
- Additionally, select attractions and certain experiences that draw large group gatherings—such as parades and nighttime spectaculars—will return at a later date. While character meet-and-greets will be temporarily unavailable, Characters will be in our parks in new ways to entertain and delight our Guests. The Disneyland Resort will also have capacity measures in place, as well as limitations on parking and operating hours.
- Given this unprecedented situation, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate through this process as responsibly as we can. Additional measures and procedures will be announced closer to the opening date.
These bullets are very similar to how it is working in Walt Disney World. I do not expect World of Color, Fantasmic!, Frozen, parades and other similar experiences to be available when they open.
SO WHEN WILL DISNEYLAND REOPEN? On Tuesday, March 9th, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke on the Company’s annual shareholder call that he expects Disneyland will reopen in late April. He did not give a specific date, but you can be sure that date will be widely known once announced. For people like me (and I assume many of you), we will not be able to visit as the current guidance stands for only California Residents until Orange County it out of ALL Tiers, including Yellow. For us, our return to Disneyland could easily extend into late summer or even late 2021, which all depends on those metrics I describe at the top of this article. However, the State of California has changed theme park opening guidance before, and it is possible they may change it again. If that happens, we will update you.
I am more than happy to help answer any other questions. Just leave me a comment.
At the time of this writing, the hotels at the Disneyland Resort are not yet open and a reopening date as not been announced. If you are planning to visit and need a hotel, please contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel and she can help you find accommodations to fit your travel needs.
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