California’s Disneyland: The Magic “Post-COVID”

First of all, I would like to clarify what I mean by “post-COVID”. I am using this term very loosely here because COVID is still very much with us and probably here to stay forever. What I mean by “post-COVID” is life as close as it used to be. Basically, a world where restrictions are somewhat less restrictive. After being closed for over a year, California’s Disneyland reopened only for California residents on April 30th with limited capacity. After hearing that they would open for out-of-state guests in mid-June, I did not hesitate to book our first family vacation since December 2019. I am here to report back what Disneyland park was like during the 4th of July long weekend.

The Disneyland App is Essential

I strongly suggest getting the app ahead of time, and familiarizing yourself with it before your visit. It is filled with so many convenient features. Guests can link their tickets, view menus, mobile order food and beverages, make dining reservations, view attraction wait times, park maps, request to join a virtual queue and access Disney PhotoPass+.

Park Tickets and Park Reservation

Prior to COVID, only a park ticket was required to enter the theme park. Now, both a valid ticket and a reservation are required for the same day and same park you want to visit. The reservation and ticketing system seem daunting at first but it really isn’t. Basically, before making a purchase it is imperative to check if your desired date and theme park is currently available.

Where to Stay: Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

During the phased reopening, some hotels were closed however, as I am writing this post, all three main hotels are now open. This includes Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Please keep in mind that some experiences may be modified or unavailable. To my knowledge, none of the three hotels are offering room service or daily housekeeping. We stayed at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Check-in was done the night before on the Disneyland App. On arrival we were greeted by a cast member who immediately provided us with our room keys. That was it, we didn’t have to wait in any lines. Something worth mentioning regarding our room is how clean it was. To my surprise, everything was immaculate. Even the remote control was nicely wrapped up and labelled “sanitized”. In case you were wondering, I still carried my sanitizing wipes and sprays and disinfected the room the best I could (you know just in case).

Sanitary Measures

On its website, Disney indicates the following information “The State of California strongly recommends that all Guests be fully vaccinated or receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the Disneyland Resort. Unvaccinated Guests must wear face coverings when indoors.” My husband and I were never asked to provide any proof of vaccination however, just in case we brought our vaccination card with us. In addition, nobody requested that my young daughter (6 years old) provide proof of a negative PCR test. Social distancing and temperature check have all but completely disappeared. Regarding masks, as indicated above, they are required indoors for unvaccinated people. However, the majority of people (including children) didn’t wear one. I noticed that all cast members wore one regardless if they were indoors or outdoors. One thing worth mentioning is the number of solar operated sanitizer dispensers available. We found one next to every single attraction, so we were able to thoroughly sanitize our hands after every ride.

Inside the Theme Park

As I previously mentioned, I visited Disneyland over the 4th of July long weekend. There were certainly plenty of lines at the gate of the park thus, I was expecting the place to be crowded. However, once inside, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t the case. I believe they must still limit the number of people entering the park each day hence, why they require guests to make their reservations in addition to purchasing their tickets. We never waited more than 30 minutes for a ride and did not encounter any issues pre-ordering food. We were told to order food ahead of time on the app because there weren’t a lot of options, and time slots were limited. I am please to report that during our 2-day visit everything we ordered was ready promptly. The only time the park felt crowded was in the evening before the fireworks on July 4th.

Interactions with Disney Characters

Disney characters still make appearances throughout the day however, instead of the personal meet-and-greet, guests must keep their distance when interacting with them. For everybody’s safety hugs were not permitted but you could wave, hug from a distance and blow kisses. The characters, would also pose for pictures. Children (including my 6 years old daughter) didn’t seem to mind that you couldn’t interact with the characters like before.

Final Thoughts

Our time in Disneyland was short but it was truly magical. For the first time in forever, I felt a sense of normalcy. Rather than trying to rush from one ride to the other, we took our time to enjoy everything the park offered. My visit to Disneyland reminded me that magic still exists despite, how much COVID has disrupted our lives.