Today marks seven long months since Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a difficult time to be a Disneyland fan. Tensions are mounting between Walt Disney Company executives — including Executive Chairman Bob Iger and Disney CEO Bob Chapek — and fans are beginning to miss the parks more than they ever knew was possible!
Here, we take a look at the past, present, and future of Disneyland as we stare down 29 weeks of the California theme park’s temporary (though long) closure.
As out-of-state Annual Passholders, my family and I try to make the most of our Disneyland vacations, so earlier this year, we decided — after much consideration — to go on our scheduled mid-March trip.
At that point, COVID-19 concerns had not peaked and, in hindsight, our return on the weekend of March 15 was when “the bottom fell out,” so to speak, across the United States.
This photo — taken on March 12 — will always bring back vivid memories of Disneyland’s closure for me. My husband snapped it of me with our youngest daughter at The Golden Horseshoe restaurant mere minutes before we received a Disneyland App alert that both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure would be closing just two days later, on March 14.
The alert indicated that the parks were planning a two-week temporary closure while Southern California worked to flatten the curve. Now, as we approach 29 weeks of the Disneyland Resort closure, a mere 14 days feels surreal.
The entire mood in both the Frontierland restaurant and Disneyland Park as a whole shifted the second the alert was sent — it’s worth noting that it was the rainiest, dreariest day I’ve ever experienced in Southern California — almost as if the weather knew what was to come before we did!
The next day, we visited Disney California Adventure, as planned. The experience was completely different than usual knowing that the parks would be closing the next day — we savored every ride and every moment a little bit extra.
Crowd levels were also extremely low, as you can see in the above photo of California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf section. Even prior to the closure, Disneyland Cast Members were going beyond the call of duty in regard to health and safety.
We saw numerous hand sanitizing stations throughout both Disneyland theme parks, and Cast Members were wiping down surfaces even before official new protocols existed — all Disney theme parks worldwide now have specific cleaning requirements that much be followed.
Currently, Disneyland fans wait…and wait…and wait. We’ve heard a lot of comments about how California Governor Gavin Newsom and theme park officials are “actively working” together to create theme park reopening guidelines that suit everyone involved.
CEO Bob Chapek, however, seems to disagree with the fact that any negotiations are occurring — he views the closure as a state “mandate.”
Both Disney and Universal officials rejected the initial set of reopening guidelines that were set to be released by Governor Newsom’s office. As an out-of-state resident and Disneyland Annual Passholder, watching what is unfolding in California has seemed almost otherworldly.
On a personal note, I know more details about California’s reopening phases and the Blueprint for a Safer Economy than I ever intended to — I may even know more about California than I do my own state at this point. I think many Disneyland fans from other parts of the country, Passholders or not, are entrenched in the day-to-day details of Disney’s struggle to reopen on the West Coast.
Even as we are in the midst of it, it has become a compelling part of Disneyland Resort’s story. In 10, 20, or even 50 years, I think all Disneyland fans already know that we will look back on this extended closure as one of the most intriguing chapters in Disney Parks history.
After all, no other Disney park fans anywhere on earth know what it’s like to have their “second home” closed for over half a year — it has given Disneyland Resort goers a unique bond within the Disney community.
We know Disneyland Resort will eventually reopen — fortunately, that fact is not in question. We simply have to continue being patient to learn exactly when “the guards will open up the gates.”
On a positive note, I believe Disneyland and Disney California Adventure fans are more prepared than any other Disney Parks Guests were for reopening. We have watched Disneyland Shanghai, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Walt Disney World Resort all reopen.
We know exactly what to expect. We’ve already picked out our matching face masks for reopening day (wait, just me?).
Now, we can’t do anything but continue to wait on the Governor’s office to issue guidelines. Hopefully, with various California agencies visiting theme parks this week, we are actually getting closer to an announcement.
It’s been 214 days. We’re ready — and so is Disneyland.
What do you think about Disneyland’s seven-month closure?
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall.