When Disneyland and Disney California Adventure finally reopen, they will look very different. We’ve shared the theme park reopening guidelines issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom, everything Disney has stated when it comes to the health and safety protocol that will be in place at Disneyland Resort, and everything we know so far about the updates that are being made to the California Disney Parks to keep Guests and Cast Members safe.
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However, one question continues to loom over our heads: when Disneyland reopens, will there be any attractions or experiences that stay closed, at least for a little while?
We speculate that there are certain areas of the parks that will remain closed for some time after Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen, based on current guidelines and the status of COVID-19 in California. We’ve based this opinion on what we know so far about the protocol needed to reopen theme parks.
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But, keep in mind, things may change. Something to consider here is that, according to the State of California’s guidelines for reopening theme parks, Orange County (where Disneyland Resort is located) will only have to have less than one COVID-19 case per 100,000 people by the time Disneyland and DCA reopen. So, there is a chance that the health and safety protocol that is planned for Disneyland Resort will not be quite as strict by the time COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased and a vaccine is widely distributed. In that case, perhaps more of Disneyland will be able to reopen when that time comes.
Additionally, although Disney World separated Guests on attractions when the Florida Disney Parks first reopened amid the pandemic in July 2020, they have now begun loading more and more Guests into each attraction, even filling every seat in the attraction vehicles for rides like Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Slinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is still technically in alignment with CDC guidelines, though keep in mind that the reopening of theme parks in Florida has gone a lot differently than the reopening of theme parks in California.
However, the State hasn’t given any indication that the guidelines will loosen by that time, and we’re still operating under the assumption that health and safety protocol (like face masks, social distancing, and limited capacity) will be highly enforced. After all, it is this protocol that is helping to allow California theme parks to reopen as safely as possible.
So, here are some Disneyland rides and attractions that we speculate may not easily adapt to the pandemic era.
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Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
This attraction truly feels as though it may not survive at all. Although the Tomorrowland lagoon is absolutely breathtaking (and we hope this historic area of Tomorrowland is always part of Disneyland Park), the attraction it houses is, well, not so glamorous.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is not the most popular attraction by any means, and given the cramped nature of the attraction vehicles, it may be in Disney’s best interest to keep this attraction at least temporarily closed for the time being. It is essentially impossible to stay apart from other parties while riding this attraction, and there is very little air circulation in the ride vehicles. Though it is not a very long ride, it does host a number of Guests in a small, enclosed space for several minutes, and therefore it isn’t pandemic-friendly.
Many Disney fans (including David at FreshBaked on YouTube) highly suspect that Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage will not survive the pandemic era at all, and they are willing to bet that the last time you experienced the Finding Nemo submarines is the last time you’ll ever experience the attraction. Keep in mind, however, that Disney hasn’t said this is the case.
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Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
While we don’t ever think this historic part of Fantasyland will ever go away, there is a chance that it won’t be available for Guests as soon as the theme parks reopen. Allowing Guests to actually walk inside the castle centerpiece of Disneyland Park, the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough has quite narrow staircases and walkways, and it can easily feel crowded as more Guests enter the castle to view parts of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.
If this attraction opens as soon as Disneyland Park reopens, then Disney Cast Members will likely limit capacity inside the castle to only allow a certain number of people to enter the building at once. However, it would be difficult to monitor how much time Guests are spending inside the castle or prevent lingering in such an enclosed space with very little airflow. For that reason, Disney could decide that it is not only safer but also highly convenient to keep the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough temporarily closed for the time being.
Highly Interactive Theme Park Experiences
Although COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces, it is still possible to spread germs by touching an object or surface that an infected person has also touched. Knowing this, would Disneyland Resort decide to reopen highly interactive theme park experiences — like Animation Academy, Sorcerer’s Workshop, and character houses in ToonTown — when the theme parks are in their first phase of reopening?
Interactive activities at Walt Disney World, for example, have not yet reopened, and while Florida theme parks have followed CDC guidelines in their reopening process, things will likely be even stricter in California.
Animation Academy and Sorcerer’s Workshop in Disney California Adventure are two areas that are highly interactive. At Animation Academy, Guests learn how to draw some of their favorite Disney characters, and in the Sorcerer’s Workshop, Guests can go to various stations and bring cartoons to life. They use supplies that thousands of other Guests have used (such as pencils), and the tools and surfaces are not cleaned after each use. And in Beast’s Library, Guests can take an interactive quiz to find out which Disney character they are most like…but the touchscreen on which the quiz is administered is also not frequently cleaned. While crowding could be easily remedied by strictly limiting capacity within these areas, Disney may opt to hold off on opening this part of the park simply because it would be too difficult to keep these attractions sanitized.
Additionally, the character houses in ToonTown are also at risk. Similar to the experiences at the Animation building on Hollywood Land in DCA, Mickey’s ToonTown in Disneyland park is a land with many interactive experiences, primarily inside places like Mickey’s House, Minnie’s House, Goofy’s House, and Donald’s Boat. These areas are highly interactive and — pre-pandemic — encourage Guests to touch basically everything. ToonTown is also among the most popular locations to meet characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale) in Disneyland.
So, knowing that Disney will likely be making an effort to minimize the frequent touching of surfaces throughout the theme parks in California — following in the footsteps of Disney World, CDC recommendations, and guidelines established by the State of California — we wouldn’t be surprised if the character houses in Mickey’s ToonTown don’t open, at least for a little while.
Keep in mind that Disneyland Resort has not publicized a list of the experiences that will or will not reopen when Disneyland and DCA are in their first phase of reopening. Until then, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for any information we may find. For the most up-to-date reopening information and experience updates, click here to visit the Disneyland Resort official website. For the latest information on COVID-19, click here to visit the official website for the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.
Are there any Disneyland Resort attractions that you don’t think will reopen at first? Or do you think low COVID-19 case numbers will allow for much more of Disneyland Resort to reopen in the beginning? Let us know!