We have good news (ribbit!) and we have bad news (croak). The good news is that Downtown Disney just keeps getting bigger and bigger! The Disneyland shopping and dining area reopened July 9, and it will be expanding — all the way over to Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure! — come November 19 (details below). We've so enjoyed hopping over to Downtown Disney these last couple of months, hearing the Disney music and eating our favorite treats, so we're excited for this expansion while the parks remain closed. This brings us to the bad news. The State of California handed down new reopening guidelines for theme parks last week, and under those guidelines, it is unlikely that Disneyland will open within the next few weeks.
Wait. Why the delay in Disneyland reopening? California has a color-coded, four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy that rates each county's risk level as it relates to COVID-19 cases:
- Tier 1 (Purple) is Widespread Risk, with many non-essential business closed (more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents)
- Tier 2 (Red) is Substantial Risk (four to seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents)
- Tier 3 (Orange) is Moderate Risk (one to three daily new cases per 100,000 residents)
- Tier 4 (Yellow) is Minimal Risk (less than one daily new case per 100,000 residents)
A theme park cannot reopen until the county in which it is located reaches Yellow Tier 4, which allows most indoor business operations to open with modifications. At the time of the the theme park guideline announcement, Orange County was in Red Tier 2. In order to move to a new tier, the county must meet the next tier's criteria for two consecutive weeks. A county can only move one tier at a time. As Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly, mentioned, once a county reaches Tier 4, if the data changes and a county moves back to Tier 3, the reopened businesses may have to close again. Tier changes are announced each week on Tuesday.
Additional California theme parks guidelines state that theme parks must operate at 25 percent capacity, use a reservation system to limit capacity and have mandatory face coverings (except when eating or drinking). Indoor restaurants are limited to 25 percent capacity.
Downtown Disney Expands into Disney California Adventure for the Holidays
Even though the theme parks and hotels remain closed for now, Disneyland does have a little holiday cheer coming its way beginning in November. The Downtown Disney District has been a popular spot for Disney lovers to get a taste of their beloved theme parks. In fact, at times (especially on the weekends), the district reaches capacity and turns to virtual queues to limit capacity in popular shops. Disneyland already expanded the shopping area to include a temporary store that's technically inside Disney California Adventure Park, the Backlot Premiere Shop at Stage 17.
The shopping and dining district's borders are expanding again, this time into the closed Disney California Adventure theme park. On November 19, Disney is opening up the gates to the theme park. Access is limited to Buena Vista Street and a bit of Hollywood Land. Open areas include shops, restaurants and vendor booths so guests can enjoy popcorn, ice cream, churros and other Disneyland favorite goodies. Rides and other aspects of the theme park remain closed. Hop over to our Guide to Buena Vista Street shopping and dining for all of the details.
We promise to update this post with more news and a Disneyland reopening date as soon as we hear it. In the meantime, here is everything you need to know and what you can expect from the phased Disneyland reopening. Hop down to Downtown Disney District Reopening to see all the restaurants and shops that are open.
Disneyland Reopening Dates and Details
Let's get down to business. Disneyland is opening in phases. Here are the proposed reopening dates:
July 9 — The Downtown Disney District reopened.
Nov. 19 — The Downtown Disney District expands into Buena Vista Street area for shopping and dining at Disney California Adventure.
To open at a later date — Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney's Paradise Pier, the Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disneyland Hotel
To open at a later date — Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Parks
While we are literally jumping with anticipation for the parks to reopen, we know that the parks will look a little different for some time due to COVID-19. In order to promote social distancing, park capacity, parking and experiences will be limited. Theme park admission will be limited to 25 percent (per state guidelines) and guests will need to make a reservation before arriving (even Annual Passholders). Operating hours may also be limited.
Not all experiences will be returning right away. Large shows, parades and character meet and greets will be temporarily unavailable at Disneyland. Instead, we can expect new ways to be entertained and delighted by characters in the parks. We have enjoyed catching a glimpse of the character cavalcades, boat trips and even horseback rides at the Disney World reopening, and we cannot wait to see what fun the characters will be up to at Disneyland.
New Disneyland Theme Park Reservation System
Out of all the changes we will have to get used to (such as wearing masks, practicing social distancing and doing without some of our favorite shows, parades and character hugs), possibly not getting in to visit the parks is the most stressful part. In order to comply with government requirements and promote physical distancing, Disneyland has to limit attendance. The only way to prevent too many people from showing up is to implement a new theme park reservation system. Disney has announced that Disneyland will use the same Park Pass Reservation system currently being used at Disney World.
Park admission is not guaranteed. All guests — including Annual Passholders (APs) — must acquire an advance reservation for park entry. The system is not in place yet, so keep hopping back for updates. In the meantime, Disneyland has paused new ticket sales and AP sales or renewals. Already have tickets or an annual pass? Be sure to link any existing tickets to your account in the Disneyland app so you'll be prepared to make a reservation when the time comes. Hop back for details!
Disneyland Resort Safety Measures
All of the changes we can expect are in the interest of safety, cleanliness, physical distancing and reduced contact. Disneyland wants to protect cast members and guests from COVID-19. If you want to visit Disneyland in this time, you will have to come to terms with these temporary changes. Many of the changes come from local and state governments, health experts and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Disneyland site says that the reopening approach is deliberately fluid and phased because the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving. Don't worry: We'll keep you updated through the changes!
Once you enter the parks, look for some guidance from the Incredibles to offer super tips for your role in staying healthy and preventing the spread of germs in the theme parks. Here's a quick look at enhanced health and safety measures, as well as what to expect during Disneyland's reopening period:
Phased reopening: Expect a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. Retail and dining locations in Downtown Disney opened prior to the theme parks.
Enhanced protective measures: Face coverings are mandatory for cast members and guests (ages 2 and up), with additional hand-washing stations and physical barriers, where appropriate.
Guest Experience Team: Keep an eye out for the new Guest Experience Team. Their job is to engage with guests and remind them to comply with all the new health and safety protocols. They are there to help guests follow the rules.
Temperature screenings: All cast members and park guests undergo temperature screenings prior to entering Downtown Disney and the theme parks. Cast members will have their temperature checked daily.
Enhanced security measures: Disneyland is testing a new contactless security system. It can scan people and bags for weapons and dangerous substances as they pass by it. It's not yet available every day though. You may experience K9 screening. Security officers will ask you to remove any bags from your shoulders. Then you'll open any bags for inspection. The security bag screeners are separated from you by a plexiglass barrier. Then, before you walk through the metal detector, you'll place items on a table and slide them forward before stepping through the metal detector.
Capacity measures: Advance reservations through a new theme park reservation system are required to visit the parks during the phased reopening.
Physical distancing measures: Disneyland has implemented physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities and the government. Technology may aid in these efforts, such as the Play Disney Parks App, Mobile Ordering and virtual queues. The parks have increased education and signage to direct guests on physical distancing in terms of where to sit or stand. The parks will temporarily suspend fireworks, parades and entertainment that allows crowds to gather. Expect spacing in queues and in ride vehicles. Character meet and greets will remain temporarily unavailable.
Limited-contact enhancements: Disneyland is encouraging cashless transactions and will reduce interactions between cast members and guests through the use of technology and other measures. You can expect contactless payments and expanded Mobile Ordering in the Disneyland app. Plexiglass partitions add separation between cast members and guests at park entrances, restaurants and shops. Expect temporary closures of play areas. Beginning Nov. 19, parking is $10 per vehicle. You pay upon entry. We've spotted self-pay parking stations installed near the Downtown Disney Simba Lot, so those may eventually open.
Enhanced cleanliness and sanitization: You'll see increased cleaning and disinfection around the resort, especially for high-contact areas. You'll see increased sanitizing of ride vehicles.
Cast training: Disneyland is providing new training and reinforcement to emphasize a strong culture of health and safety among cast members.
Once Disneyland is closer to reopening, Disneyland will share more specific details on what to expect in terms of security changes, temperature checks, face masks, virtual queues and new restrictions on rides. In the meantime, here's what you can do to practice good health and wellness in theme parks.
Disneyland has added a COVID-19 warning to its site. It says:
"An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens, and guests with underlying medial conditions are especially vulnerable."
All guests and employees must wear face coverings, such as masks. The facial coverings must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face. The covering must be secured with ties or ear loops. Gaiter-syle coverings, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not allowed. Guests may remove masks to eat or drink when stationary. Signs and cast members will remind guests to follow the social distancing guidelines and wear a facial covering. If you somehow forget your mask, you can purchase a disposable mask from a vending machine for $2, so you can get into Downtown Disney. You can purchase Disney-themed cloth masks at World of Disney and likely other locations once the parks reopen.
We've hopped about some of the Orlando theme parks as they reopen and have developed some tips for wearing masks at the theme parks. Sorry, those costume masks are not going to cut it. You have to follow the attire guidelines. You CAN, however, match your mask to your DisneyBound or outfit. Pair the mask with ears or a Disney shirt. Have fun with it, and make sure your face covering is roller coaster ready. Better bring a spare or two just in case! On hot days, masks can make your face get pretty sweaty, so it's nice to have a clean, dry mask to change into.
We've asked about masks for people with disabilities at Disney World (we do not know if this will differ at Disneyland). There are no exceptions for people ages 2 and up; masks are required for all guests at this time.
Downtown Disney District Reopening
The walking, shopping, dining and entertainment district that connects parking, hotels and the theme parks was the first thing to reopen at the Disneyland Resort. Downtown Disney is now open! Hop over to our guide to Downtown Disney at Disneyland to get a sense of the dining, shopping and fun to be had there. We have come up with so many hopful insider tips for visiting at this time in terms of when to visit and where to park and how to manage Mobile Wait Lists. You can get the details and top tips for visiting right now in our new Downtown Disney post.
Of course, Downtown Disney is operating with capacity measures in place, as well as limitations on parking and operating hours. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday; however, individual locations may have different hours. During the holiday season, Downtown Disney will be open until 10 p.m. most nights. Here's what you need to know before you go:
- Wear that mask (ears are optional)! Face coverings are required for guests, cast members and employees.
- Self-park in the Simba Lot ($10 per vehicle beginning Nov. 19) or walk from Harbor Blvd.
- The Harbor Blvd. entrance is less crowded.
- Simba Lot is subject to closures to limit capacity. If parking is closed, and you cannot wait to get in, you can park at Garden Walk ($3/hour) and walk 10 minutes to the Harbor Blvd. entrance. Some of the hotels on Harbor Blvd. across from Disneyland offer parking for a fee as well.
- Get dropped off to save time.
- Rideshare drop-off areas are at the Harbor Blvd. guest drop-off and pick-up location and at the Downtown Disney District guest drop-off and pick-up location on Downtown Drive.
- You'll be subjected to a temperature screening. Guests with a temperature 100.4 F or above and their party will not be allowed to enter.
- A plexiglass barrier separates guests from security bag screeners.
- Ground markings and physical barriers promote social distancing.
- Cashless payment is recommended.
- Operating hours of each vendor may vary.
- Expect an increased focus on cleaning and sanitation with cleaning procedures in high-traffic areas such as handrails, benches, tables, handles, restrooms and more.
- Note the hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers in key areas.
- Keep an eye out for the new Guest Experience Team to explain new safety rules, answer questions and encourage guests to comply with the new rules.
- Join virtual queues (if offered) for World of Disney and Marceline's Confectionery right away. You'll receive a text when it's time to check in.
- Weekdays (especially Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) are less crowded than weekends.
Downtown Disney District Dining
Dining locations incorporate enhanced health and safety measures, including physical distancing, the use of appropriate face coverings by employees, cast members and guests, and increased cleaning procedures and limited contact. To promote physical distancing and touchless transactions, you'll see a number of changes to dining locations, including:
- Increased outdoor patio-style seating available at select locations.
- Very limited indoor dining.
- Parties seated at tables 6 feet apart.
- Digital or single-use menus available at many locations.
- Reservations for some table-service restaurants (Naples is using Open Table).
- People with proof of dining reservations may still get into the Simba parking lot even if the lot is closed for capacity.
- Physical barriers in select places where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing guidelines).
- Encouragement of cashless transactions — bring credit cards, debit cards, gift cards and mobile wallet options.
- Some dining locations use their own reservations system or virtual wait list.
- The entire party must be present before seating.
Here is a look at the restaurants that are open during the Downtown Disney reopening:
- Asian Street Eats
- Ballast Point
- Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes
- California Churro
- Earl of Sandwich
- Jamba (Mobile Order available)
- Kayla’s Cakes
- La Brea Bakery Café
- Naples Ristorante e Bar
- Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
- Ralph Brennan's
- Jazz Kitchen Express (Mobile Order available)
- Salt & Straw (Mobile Order available)
- Sprinkles (Mobile Order available)
- Starbucks West
- Tortilla Jo's
- Uva Bar & Cafe
- Wetzel’s Pretzels
- Wetzel’s Diggity Dog
Look for signs with QR codes for Mobile Order for select quick-service locations.
Restaurants open (as of Nov. 19) on Buena Vista Street inside Disney California Adventure include:
- Carthay Circle Lounge - Alfresco Dining (table service)
- Smokejumpers Grill (Mobile Order available)
- Award Wieners (Mobile Order availabile)
- Fiddler Fifer & Practical Cafe
- Snack carts
Note that having a Mobile Order does not grant you entrance into Buena Vista Street if it hits capacity. Wait until you are inside before ordering. At busy times, you may encounter a mobile wait to enter Buena Vista Street.
Table-service locations may require reservations. Check with each individual location to confirm their reservation process. All members of a party must be present before seating, and hosts must bring the entire party to the table at one time. During the reopening, Orange County bars are closed, as well as indoor dining, so all restaurant seating is outside only. Additional outdoor seating has been added. Alcohol will only be served with food purchases.
We've eaten at a few table-service locations since Downtown Disney reopened. Most locations offer limited menus. At Jazz Kitchen, we scanned a QR code to get the menu on our phones. We sat outside, and plexiglass separated us from the passersby. The hostess provided us with bags to hold our masks and a hand wipe. At Ballast Point, we also scanned a QR code to pull up the menu, and we ordered and paid through our phones. With masked servers and these extra steps, we felt very safe dining in Downtown Disney.
You can make some dining reservations via the Disneyland app, but for some restaurants you will need to call or use Open Table. We highly recommend getting a dining reservation, especially Friday through Monday. The Simba parking lot closes to limited capacity at busy times and a dining reservation gets you in the lot and is like a FASTPASS to get you to the front of the security line!
Downtown Disney Shopping
Here's a look at the open shops:
- Backlot Premiere Shop (now open at Stage 17 — look for the entrance on the east side of the Main Entrance esplanade by security screening next to Disney California Adventure. This shop may use a virtual queue.)
- Disney Dress Shop
- Disney Home (may use a virtual queue)
- Disney’s Pin Traders
- LEGO Store (may use a virtual queue)
- Marceline’s Confectionery (may use a mobile wait list if lines get long)
- Pandora Jewelry
- Pressed Coin Machines
- Rinse Bath & Body Co.
- Sugarboo & Co.
- Sunglass Icon
- WonderGround Gallery (temporarily a Star Wars Trading Post with shipments from Batuu)
- World of Disney (may use a mobile wait list and dressing rooms are closed)
At times, you may make a reservation to do some Disney shopping in Downtown Disney. You can make an online reservation at the Disneyland site to purchase featured products in the former ESPN Zone.
Shops open (as of Nov. 19) on Buena Vista Street inside Disney California Adventure include:
- Trolley Treats
- Kingswell Camera Shop
- Elias & Co.
- Julius Katz & Sons
What's Not Reopening Yet
The following experiences remain closed for now:
- La Brea Bakery Express
- Napolini Pizzeria
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes (bowling alleys are not permitted to reopen in Orange County yet)
- Taqueria at Tortilla Jo's
- The Void virtual reality experience (may be permanently closed)
Reopening of Disneyland Hotels
The Disneyland Resort hotels will remain closed and open at a later date. There is some news, however. The Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa reopen Dec. 6. Most dining and activities will be limited and modified. But the Disneyland site says the rest of the on-site hotels remain closed and will reopen at a later date, pending state and local government approvals.
Disneyland Dining Updates
Disneyland has not yet announced any changes to the Disneyland Dining Reservations system for the resort as a whole. We expect Disneyland character dining to be modified or unavailable for some time. Being that you need a reservation to visit a park, we expect there will be some changes to come in terms of in-park dining reservations.
You can make dining reservations for some Downtown Disney table-service restaurants through the Disneyland app. You can also scan QR codes at Downtown Disney for restaurant menus and to Mobile Order food at some quick-service locations.
Inside the theme parks, expect to use Mobile Order via the Disneyland app at quick-service restaurants to reduce contact and reduce the transfer of cash. The system may be expanding to take different types of payment besides credit card, so that would be a definite improvement!
Are you excited about Disneyland reopening? Once ticket sales reopen, you can purchase your multi-day discount Disneyland Resort tickets through Undercover Tourist. You can also book discounted hotels, including the Disneyland Resort hotels and offsite hotels near Disneyland.