Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are finally reopening at the end of April, but there’s a lot you need to know before you plan your trip. The days of just strolling up and buying a ticket—or using your annual pass to get in—are gone, at least temporarily. Yesterday Disney released all the details on the new reservation system, which launches on April 12 for those who have unused tickets purchased before the parks shut down in March 2020, and opens up for new ticket buyers on April 15. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect.
To get into either park, you’ll need to purchase a ticket and make a reservation in advance. The parks’ capacity will be limited to 15% when they reopen, and given there’s over a year of pent-up demand for their return, those tickets and reservation slots will probably move pretty fast. Also, only California residents will be able to get into the parks when they reopen, and no more than three households can make up a single group; those are both per California’s official pandemic guidelines.
If you have a ticket that you bought last year and wasn’t able to use before the shutdown, you’ll get the first crack at a reservation. On April 9 you can go to this site and see which dates are available for your ticket. Three days later, on Monday April 12, the reservation system will open up “no earlier than 8 a.m. PT,” and ticket-holders will be able to make their reservations.
New ticket sales won’t resume until Thursday, April 15, also no earlier than 8 a.m. California time. At that point any California resident will be able to buy tickets and schedule their reservations.
If you have a multi-day ticket, or plan on buying one, you’ll have to make separate reservations for every day you hope to attend. And if you have a park hopper ticket, you’ll have to make a reservation for the first park you hope to attend that day, and won’t be able to hop over to the other one until after 1 p.m.
If you aren’t local, and want to stay at one of the Disneyland Resort’s three official hotels, you’ll have a single option: the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which reopens on April 29, the day before the parks. Hotel reservations will also open up on April 15. The Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel don’t currently have scheduled reopening dates.
If you owned an annual pass, well, this system might be a little annoying. Disney announced in January that they were “sunsetting” the annual pass system for Disneyland, and giving refunds to passholders; if you’re a passholder who needs more info on that refund, here are all those details. As theme park journalist Carlye Wisel pointed out on Twitter, the system as announced puts annual passholders at a disadvantage for reservations. People who bought individual tickets before the shutdown have priority, and obviously passholders didn’t need to buy individual tickets. They won’t be able to buy new tickets until three days after the first reservation tier starts, so the most loyal Disneyland visitors, the ones who paid for regular, easy access to the parks before the pandemic, won’t be the first to make reservations. And given the extremely limited capacity, it could be a while before they’re able to get a reservation slot.
While the parks reopen on April 30, not every attraction will be operating that day. Disney’s posted a list of what will be in action. Most of the big ones will be running—Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, both Star Wars rides, and three of the four mountains—but a few notable rides will be closed. Don’t expect to ride the Matterhorn, the monorail, the Submarine Voyage, the Jungle Cruise, or the Storybook Land Canal Boats. Grizzly River Run at Disney’s California Adventure will also be closed when the park reopens. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln will still be dark, too. Several restaurants won’t be reopening on April 30, either, including Blue Bayou (which will begin serving alcohol when it reopens), the Golden Horseshoe, Rancho del Zocalo, Oga’s Cantina, and Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo.
Finally, Covid precautions will be in place, so bring your masks—they’re mandatory. Also prepare to stay six feet away from people who aren’t in your group, and expect some changes to the traditional queues. And as with Disney World—which has been open since last July—fireworks, parades, and character meet and greets will be suspended for the time being.
As with the theme parks at Disney World, Disneyland won’t be its regular self when it reopens this month. At least it will be open, though, in another step towards recovering from the pandemic. Hopefully people who live in other states will be able to make it in before the year is up.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.