Disneyland reopens April 30: Here’s how to get a theme park reservation and ticket

Disneyland California

Disneyland in California has been closed since March 2020.

Corinne Reichert/CNET

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Disneyland is set to reopen at the end of April after California issued new guidance on theme parks in March. It comes after Disneyland closed its gates more than a year ago due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. For the first time in its 65-year history, the iconic California theme park initially shut down for a month on March 12 — and has remained closed since.

Disneyland Resort became a coronavirus vaccine site in early 2021 as the Toy Story parking lot began serving as Orange County’s first vaccine super site on Jan. 14. Here’s the latest on when California Adventure and Disneyland will reopen, and how to get a theme park reservation and ticket starting next week.

Read more: Disney unveils plans for Disneyland expansion

Disneyland and California Adventure reopen April 30

Disneyland reopening

Disney Parks

Disney’s two California theme parks will reopen April 30, Disneyland announced March 17. As of April 5, 2021, Orange County is sitting at just 3 new coronavirus cases per day per 100,000 people, with a 1.6% positive rate on test results. Those numbers began plummeting two months ago; Orange County was sitting at 99.7 daily cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 19.

What to know:

  • Under theme park guidance issued by the state on March 5, Disneyland is permitted to reopen if Orange County is in the red, or “substantial,” tier as of April 1.
  • Under the current orange tier, which the county entered at the end of March, the parks will have a maximum capacity of 25%.
  • Once the county reaches the yellow tier, there will be a 35% capacity as well as a 25% indoor capacity. 
  • All tiers — red, orange and yellow — allow for only California visitors to Disneyland. However, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced April 6 the state will remove the tier system June 15 but keep in place the mask mandate.
  • To enter Disneyland or California Adventure, you’ll need both a ticket and a theme park reservation for the same day.

How to get a Disneyland ticket and reservation

The online reservation system will launch April 12 at 8 a.m. PT, but only to people who held a ticket for a time during the park’s year-long closure. (You can check whether your Disneyland ticket is still valid from April 9.) Ticket sales will resume 8 a.m. PT on April 15, so anyone can buy a new ticket and make a new reservation starting then.

How to get a theme park reservation:

  1. Access the reservation system online — but only once you have a valid ticket.
  2. Log into your Disney Parks app to link up tickets from your family or friends so you’re all in one group.
  3. Select the day and theme park you want to visit.
  4. If you intend to hop between both parks, you can choose which park to start your day — you’ll then be able to visit the other park starting at 1 p.m. that day.
  5. Review and confirm.

No word yet on new ticket pricing, but we know now the parks will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Disney says you should make your theme park reservation prior to booking a hotel stay to ensure the dates match up.

Cast members are back and testing the rides already, with Disney also unveiling expansion plans for Disneyland and California Adventure.

California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney event on now

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of California Adventure, Disneyland is currently hosting a limited capacity ticketed event. “A Touch of Disney” started March 18 and runs until April 19 at California Adventure, Thursdays through Mondays from noon until 8 p.m., though no rides are open.

Tickets are $75 — which includes parking, unlimited PhotoPass photos and a $25 dining card toward your food and nonalcoholic drinks — but tickets sold out in less than a day despite Disney adding another two weeks to its event calendar due to high demand. You can keep checking back for more tickets to be “released on a rolling basis until the experience ends.”

A Touch of Disney features special food and beverages, Disney characters, merchandise and photo locations. The event coincides with the usual timing of California Adventure’s annual food and wine festival, and reportedly allowed around 1,000 employees to come back to work. The new Avengers Campus and part of Hollywood Land where the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is located are the only areas of the park not open during the event.

As well as reopening food locations like Smokejumpers Grill, Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats, Award Wieners and Cocina Cucamonga, California Adventure has six marketplaces for more snack choices. You can also book a table at Carthay Circle Lounge and Lamplight Lounge. Disney has brought some of the food items usually only found at Disneyland over to California Adventure, including the Dole Whip from the Tiki Room and the Monte Cristo sandwich from New Orleans Square.

Characters across the park include Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Max, Chip and Dale, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Joy and Sadness.

The main street area of California Adventure theme park initially reopened on Nov. 19, including Buena Vista Street and parts of Hollywood Land, for dining and shopping. California Adventure’s reopening included all stores in Buena Vista Street, as well as dining locations like the Carthay Circle Lounge, Smokejumper’s Grill, Award Wieners, Starbucks and carts for churros and popcorn. Those areas are now closed to the general public during the ticketed event.

Downtown Disney is open

The Downtown Disney shopping and dining area reopened eight months ago on July 9, in line with California’s restaurant and retail opening guidelines.

Between December 2020 and January 2021, Orange County was subject to strict stay-at-home orders due to ICU capacity falling below 15%. Restaurants were forced to close in Downtown Disney and California Adventure, but Newsom lifted the lockdown orders Jan. 25.

Currently, all dining and shopping locations in Downtown Disney are open, apart from locations in the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. To visit Downtown Disney, you can only park in the Simba parking lot, and must undergo a temperature screening, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing. The area is open daily from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., or 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

Disney opened a new Star Wars Trading Post in Downtown Disney in mid-February so you can get your Star Wars merchandise fix while Galaxy’s Edge is closed.

Disneyland cancels and refunds annual passes

Disneyland announced Jan. 14 that it’ll be canceling its annual passholder program for now.

“Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations around the reopening of our California theme parks, we will be issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current program,” Disneyland President Ken Potrock said in a statement.

Disneyland is “developing new membership offerings” for when it reopens. Those who held an active annual pass as of March 14, 2020, are now called “Legacy Passholders” and will continue getting discounts for now when shopping or dining at Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. Legacy Passholders will also get early access to the new Star Wars store and Wanda Vision photo op, both of which are coming to Downtown Disney soon.

Why was Disney World allowed to reopen in 2020?

Disneyland had initially announced an optimistic reopening date of July 17, 2020, its 65th anniversary. It was forced to backtrack on those plans when California declined to issue theme park guidance. The state revealed its initial theme park reopening guidelines on Oct. 20, which wouldn’t have allowed the park to open until it was in the yellow tier, with fewer than 1 daily case per 100,000 people and a 2% positive test rate.

On the other side of the country, however, Disney was permitted to reopen the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios in July last year due to Florida’s less-strict state and local guidelines.

The Orlando Disney parks have social distancing and wellness measures, including temperature screenings, wearing masks, keeping guests six feet apart while lining up for attractions and a guest reservation system to limit capacity. Fireworks have also been suspended.

Disney Springs shopping and dining area reopened on May 20 with limited parking, fewer entrances, temperature screening before entry, masks required, physically distanced lines and barriers, reduced hours, no entertainment and more sanitization and disinfectant. Disney-owned stores and restaurants in Disney Springs began reopening May 27.

Layoffs across the US theme parks business

Vacationers haven’t been the only ones affected by Disneyland’s closure. Disney said Sept. 29 that it would lay off 28,000 US employees, citing reduced capacity at its theme parks due to social distancing requirements, as well as California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”

In an SEC filing on Nov. 26, Disney revealed it would be laying off an additional 4,000 employees, for 32,000 total.

Disneyland reached an agreement with 11 unions representing its workers as of Oct. 14, according to the Orange County Register, so that it’s ready to open as soon as permitted. The California Health and Human Services Agency reportedly sent state health officials to assess Disney World in Florida during the first week of October, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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