Disneyland Resort Sets April 30 Reopening Date

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

More than a year after the theme parks closed their gates due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are set to reopen on April 30, 2021. Disney CEO Bob Chapek made the announcement Wednesday morning during an apparance on CNBC.

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel will reopen on April 29, followed by the reopening of the Disney Vacation Club portion of that property on May 2. Disney said it will announce reopening plans for the Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel at a later date. Reservations have not yet opened for the Grand Californian Hotel.

In a Disney Parks Blog post, the company says it will "manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance." Further, state guidelines limit admission to California residents only. There will be no on-site ticket sales, and no sales to non-residents.

Ticket sales will be limited to small groups of up to 10 people, from no more than three households. In addition to masking and other social distancing measures required of all visitors, groups are not to mix with other groups. Disney has not given any indication of when tickets will go on sale, and we expect the demand for admission to be extremely strong.

Under guidelines released by the State of California, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be limited to 15% capacity as long as Orange County, California remains in the red (substantial) tier of the state's color-coded system.

Indoor attractions will be capped at 15% of capacity, with a limit to how long people could remain indoors. The state has yet to issue detailed guidelines for theme park operations, and we don't know what impact the rules might have on longer indoor rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and "it's a small world," or theater-style attractions like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Mickey's PhilharMagic. It's also unclear whether indoor performances at the Hyperion Theater or the Disney Junior Dance Party can reopen at this time.

Last week, Disney updated the official Disneyland.com website to reflect many of the same operational changes in effect since Walt Disney World reopened last summer. As expected, a number of services will not be offered when the theme parks reopen, including:

  • Fastpass
  • Disney MaxPass
  • Magic Morning
  • Extra Magic Hour
  • Parades
  • Nighttime Spectaculars (World of Color; Fantasmic)
  • Character meet-and-greets

However, Disney says "Beloved characters will pop up in new ways and sometimes in unexpected places as they remain mindful of physical distancing."

While restaurants in red tier counties are permitted to operate their dining rooms at 25% capacity, the guidelines for theme parks specifically state that there is no indoor dining in the red tier for theme park restaurants. It appears that indoor dining will be permitted at theme park restaurants when the home county enters the orange (moderate) tier, and Disney has already begun to recall cast members who work in table-service restaurants.

If Orange County moves to the orange (moderate) tier by April 30, park managers could increase attendance and indoor operation to 25% capacity. This would further increase to 35% if the county meets the standard to move into the yellow (minimal) tier.  Most of Orange County's COVID-19 metrics already meet the requirements of the orange tier, and it is highly likely the county will qualify for the less-restrictive tier by the time the parks reopen.

Regardless of tier, attendance will still be limited to in-state visitors as long as a travel advisory from the California Department of Public Health is still in effect.

The past year has seen a number of changes at the Disneyland Resort, with a new Avengers Campus almost complete in Disney California Adventure, a refurbishment of the Disneyland Hotel underway, and the reimagining of the classic Snow White attraction in Fantasyland. Snow White's Enchanted Wish will reopen on April 30 with Disneyland park, but Marvel fans will have to wait a while longer to step foot into the Avengers Campus.

The company says the sold-out Touch of Disney event, which runs March 18 through April 19, will go on as scheduled, but will not be expanded as they prepare the theme parks for reopening.