Visiting Disneyland after the Covid Epidemic
After a Year of being closed, Disneyland opened at limited capacity
By Rob Cockerham |
Going to Disneyland in June of 2021 really marked the end of the Coronovirus Pandemic for our family. Like millions of others I had been laid off in 2020, scrambled to get a new job and cancelled vacation and travel plans.
Luckily, I was refunded for my Disneyland tickets and for my now-useless hotel reservations.
As vaccines became available, and widely adopted, the general public became much safer.
By April 2021, Disneyland was announcing that they would re-open in California and would do so with a bunch of rules in place.
- The parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) would be restricted to 25% capacity.
- Only California residents would be allowed
- Everyone would have to wear facemasks unless they were eating
- Visitors would have to have park reservations set in advance
- Annual passes were cancelled
- Ten rides and restaurants would be closed
- Parades and Fireworks would be cancelled, to limit massive gatherings
By this time, I was gainfully employed, had recovered financially and was ready to visit. The prospect of visiting a park with just 25% capacity was very enticing, no matter what other rules were in place. Attendance had been everything to planning a Disneyland vacation. Long lines meant a miserable experience, short lines magical.
So, I planned a vacation. Five days split between Disneyland and California Adventure.
Five days is honestly too much time at these parks, but I was wooed by the pricing structure of the multi-day tickets. Look at these prices:
- One day: $104 - $154
- Two days: $235
- Three day: $310
- Four day: $340
- Five day: $360
As you can see, the additional-day price approaches zero as you add days. It had been a few years, and both Disneyland and California Adventure had new E-ticket rides, so I decided to get five day tickets. We would visit Disneyland on the first day, then next door to California Adventure the next day, then back to Disneyland, back and forth like that.
There is also an option to get park-hopper tickets, which allow you to visit both parks on one day, but those are about $50 more per day, which didn’t fit our plans. I think park hoppers are for people who don’t want to be limited in any way.
As our trip approached, we found out that our family friends, the Rockers, were also considering a trip to Disneyland, and because their kids are the same age as my kids, we decided to coordinate our trips and be there together. Other families probably do this kind of thing all the time, but for me, this was crazy and awesome. This could make the trip twice as fun for us.
- Bought a portable phone charger
- Replaced the battery in my three-year-old phone.
- Bought new shoes
- Changed my brake pads and oil filter
The trip for three from Sacramento to Disneyland would cost about $100 by car. Despite the urge to skip a combined total of 13 hours in the car, we decided to go with driving. Obviously there is some expense for car wear on a 850 mile journey, but that wouldn’t approach the $1,000 price for us to fly.
As the day of our trip approached, California slowly upgraded their pandemic guidance for theme parks and Disney made announcements about how they would handle those rules.
Six days before our trip, Disneyland announced that masks would no longer be required for vaccinated guests, and that they wouldn’t be asking who was vaccinated. They also announced that temperature checks were cancelled, that ride capacity limits would be cancelled, groups in lines would no longer be spaced six feet apart and that long lines could be contained indoors.
This was great news! In my opinion, wearing a mask is no problem, but I hadn’t ever worn it for 10 hours outside in the summer.
It was hard to gauge how busy the parks were. Without fastpass lines doubling the “standby” line times, they moved much quicker than I was used to. The parks were open with reduced hours: 9am to 9pm, with no extra hours.
Before the first day, I was a little nervous about the process to snag a Boarding Pass for Rise of the Resistance. Because this attraction is so popular, Disney set up a special app-based ticket system. Every group who wants to ride Rise of the Resistance has to open the Disney App and click "join a boarding group" at exactly 7:00:00 am. Rides for the first five hours of the day are distributed then, and lucky groups are awarded with a boarding pass. The process happens again at 12:00:00 noon, with everyone else (who has not ridden yet) trying for a chance at one of the spots available for the rest of the day.
On Monday I tried at 7 am, and did not emerge with a boarding group. I tried again at noon, and was able to get into boarding group with an estimated boarding time of 5:30pm. Unfortunately, that assigned time clashed with my dinner reservations at Cafe Orleans. I had swapped one unknown with another. Could I still make that dinner reservation? By 5pm I knew I had to resolve the situation and talked with the host at Orleans. She told me the ride/dinner time conflict was nothing to worry about. She said the ride operators would respect my dinner reservations AND that the restaurant would honor my ride reservations. It was my choice to decide which I would do and that I shouldn't worry about the time conflict. "We will take care of you". She said. That was honestly the best moment of the whole vacation.
We did 17 rides on Monday:
Zocalo for Lunch
Rise of the Resistance
On Tuesday we rode 14 rides at California Adventure:
Toy story mania
Grizzly river rapids
Spiderman web slingers
On Wednesday we rode 14 at Disneyland
Rise of Resistance
Gadget go coaster
Car toon spin
On Thursday we started late, at 11am and got 14 rides in at California Advenure
Goofy sky school
On Friday we finished with 16 rides.
Rise of resistance
Storybook Land boats
Mr Toad’s wild ride
Our legs and feet were very tired at the end of the first day, and we spent an increasing number of hours resting and sitting as the days went by. Olympic athletes could probably hit a few more rides than we did, but after a year of sitting at home on the couch, this was a pretty good effort.
A grand total of 75 rides in all, so if we divided our $360 tickets between 75 rides, we each paid $4.80 per ride. A pretty good value!