We took our two kids to Disneyland last week and it was worth the all-day wait to buy the tickets! We cannot recommend going right now highly enough. In fact, we’ve already convinced 5 separate friends to go by our short videos alone! And you might be the next 😉
There are definitely some things missing from the usual Disney experience (fireworks, parades, close up character meet & greets), but the ability to roam the park freely and ride pretty much any ride in less than 30 minutes is so beautiful you won’t miss them. Sure, wearing masks kinda sucks all day but standing in line for 2+ hours to ride an attraction for 30 seconds is SO. MUCH. WORSE. And the new character meeting setup is much better- we saw more of our Disney friends than ever before and got much better pics too! We got to try more snacks, look in more shops, experience more things. It was wonderful.
We were so spoiled by this trip that we might never be able to go back to Disneyland again. Anyways, I digress!
Here are my top 10 tips & tricks for visiting Disneyland mid-pandemic:
- Be ready to walk! Pixar parking is open, but the tram that usually takes you to the park is not. You have to walk about 1/2 mile just to get to the entrance to the park. Bring your stroller, wear your walking shoes, or take an Uber?! We’re unsure how close they would be able to drop you off but it’s definitely worth looking into.
- Even better- stay at the hotel if you can! Hotel guests get to enter the ticket lines before the rest of the people who walk from the parking structure, which is nice, but not a big deal as the park is so empty it doesn’t make too much of a difference. But the big benefit to the hotel is obvious- location and convenience! You don’t have to drive home after, you can take a nap if you want, and you can walk right up to the gates of the park in 5 minutes. The Grand Californian Hotel is the only one open now, and it’s got limited dining options, but many of the restaurants next door in Downtown Disney are open for indoor and outdoor dining. In addition, the pools and waterslides at the Grand Californian are operational for those kiddos who still have energy after a day in the park! The entrance from the hotel to California Adventure was not open when we were there, but the exit was. So after a day in C.A. we were able to walk right in to the hotel rather than out and around Downtown Disney and in. Lovely.
- Don’t wait in line for pics at the big flower Mickey by the entrance just below Main Street Station. It’s crowded first thing in the morning but by noon it’s completely empty and ready for tons of pics with your family!
- Speaking of Main Street Station- get on the train early! It closes at 2pm! And they space people out so much it’s kinda tough to get on especially close to 2:00.
- Get the Disney app right away and set up your credit card too. The only way to order food and make reservations at some restaurants in the park is thru the app. You choose your restaurant, a pickup time window, place your order, and then when you’re close you click the button, they prepare your food, ping you when it’s done and you just walk up and grab it. Genius! (Might I suggest taking the train to New Orleans Square and ordering your Mint Juleps and Beignets around Tomorrowland? They’ll be ready for pickup right as you get in to the station so you can have a snack before the 15 minute line for Haunted Mansion.)
- Now that you have the Disney app, you can see how long the wait times are at all of the rides. I found the app to be very precise, even for attractions like Pirates and Splash Mountain. They don’t let people in to the indoor waiting areas until they’re about to board the ride, plus they are spaced out 6 feet, so the lines look much worse than they really are.
- Don’t bother bringing too much hand sanitizer- they have sanitizer stations all over the place, plus hand washing stations too! It’s so nice to just walk over and wash your hands after a ride and not have to go find a bathroom each time! If you’re listening, please keep this Disney!
- Bring a water bottle. Disney has all of the drinking fountains open, so I recommend bringing your own bottle to refill. For comparison, we went to Universal and they had all of the drinking fountains closed. B/C Covid. WTF man! Not cool. I don’t get it, and I do not enjoy paying $5 for a Dasani. If you agree, take your hydroflask and drink tap water for the day!
- Chill out and enjoy the moment! We rushed around so fast the first day because we didn’t know how much we would be able to get done and we tired ourselves out quickly! Turned out we finished all the rides we could do (with 7 year olds) by 3pm! So take your time, check out a shop or two, ride the steamboat, hang out. The lines will only get shorter as the day goes on. By 5:00 the whole park was emptying out! But keep in mind they are sticklers about the 7pm closing time from what I hear. We never made it that late!
- Last tip- Don’t buy souvenirs in the park, hold out for the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney. They’ve got SO much merchandise, great traffic control, and now they have smart bags so you can check yourself out. Plus you don’t have to carry it around all day. Done!
Visiting Disneyland is an adventure anytime, but especially at 25% capacity so take these tips and tricks and make them your own!
Have a great time at the park! And if you don’t have tickets, go get some! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Update: Here are more news items about the park! Vaccines, out-of-staters, “mega events” and more are covered….
Disneyland is Now a “Mega-Event”