Moving Forward, Travel to Disneyland Will Not Be the Same

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Credit: Disney (background), United (overlay)

After nearly an 11-month closure (and counting) of the large California theme parks, many Disneyland Guests are waiting for the Disneyland Resort theme parks to reopen. Considering Disney has already hopeful that new attractions and lands such as Avengers Campus will be ready to open this year, it seems that a 2021 reopening seems to be the plan in Disney’s mind. But what will travel to California look like for those who are out of state?

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Confirms What’s Coming to Parks in 2021

Keep in mind that although Disneyland would like to reopen in 2021, it is not entirely up to them. Actually, Disney says that the Disneyland Resort theme parks have been ready to reopen since July 2020, but California Governor Gavin Newsom has yet not given the green light for large theme parks to reopen, based on the continued spread of COVID-19. Orange County would need to be in Minimal Tier 4 for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to reopen which would mean less than one new positive COVID-19 case per 100,000 residents, per day — and that is a long way away.

Downtown Disney - Disneyland Resort - 9/3/19 (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)
Credit: Disney

Read More: When Will ALL of the Disney Parks Be Open Again?

That being said, with the rollout of vaccinations in an effort to help slow the spread of the virus, things are bound to begin to look up. California recently lifted their stay-at-home order, allowing Downtown Disney to operate with outdoor dining once again. When the theme parks do reopen — much like we have seen at Disney World in Orlando, Florida — Guests from out-of-state will begin to flock to California.

The San Francisco Chronicle outlined a few ways travel may change in the upcoming months for those who are traveling into California in 2021, which could affect your next Disneyland vacation.

For the most up-to-date travel guidelines for the State of California, visit the official website here.

Touchless experiences while traveling

Just as we have seen at Disney Parks worldwide, including Disneyland, touchless payments are seemingly the direction that will be taken. From mobile ordering to the newly introduced mobile checkout at certain Disney property stores, Guests can expect to see a lot less contact with Cast Members.

This is likely going to also be implemented in the travel process at airports as well. Kirk Pederson, president of Sightline Hospitality noted to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The shift we’re going to see is in empowering the guest to get the experience that they want — whether they want to go through the app or they’re OK with contact.” 

Mobile ordering image from Walt Disney World website.
Credit: Disney

More vacationers on your flight to California

Although it seems like your check-in experience may become touchless, your flight likely not be. The San Francisco Chronicle outlined that air travel is set to pick up in 2021. Not all airlines are implementing physical distancing on airplanes (such as leaving the middle seat open), which means that Guests traveling to Disneyland Resort in Southern California from out-of-state (once it reopens) will need to feel comfortable sitting on a full plane.

Of course, there is a chance of not having a full flight, but like we saw in with Disney World, after a few months of reopening, Guests began to return in much larger numbers. Walt Disney World even increased capacity, allowing the theme parks to welcome in more Guests both from Florida and from other states as people are becoming more comfortable with traveling.

United Airlines
Credit: United

Guests may want to stay in rental homes instead of hotels

Another thing Disneyland Resort Guests will need to consider is where they will be staying. Because of the pandemic, many small businesses, including hotels in California, have had to shut down. So, when Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are allowed to reopen, there may be an influx of tourists without as many hotel accommodations as before.

Therefore, short term rentals such as Airbnb or vacation home options may become part of the trip planning process for more Disneyland Guests with the fewer hotel selection and a possible rise in nightly costs as California hotels try to recoup the massive financial loss that the pandemic brought them.

Star Wars airbnb
Credit: Jabba the House on Airbnb

Considering that Disneyland is a theme park with plenty of outdoor operations, and the state of California has many outdoor offerings, it would not be surprising to see many out of state travelers pick California as their vacation destination in 2021. That being said, the California COVID-19 website states that “Californians should remain local (not traveling more than 120 miles from their home or another place of residence) and avoid non-essential travel. Travelers from other states or countries entering into California for tourism and recreation are strongly discouraged.” Although it is not mandated that out of state travelers cannot enter California, it is against the wishes and recommendations of the state.

sunset pixar pier
Credit: Disney

Related: Disneyland Offers Annual Passholders One Last Gift Amid AP Cancellation

International Travel

For international travel, Guests will have a few more changes to deal with. President Biden has now signed an executive order that states all international travelers are required to quarantine upon arrival to the United States. 

Additionally, all international travelers — as of January 26, 2021 — must present a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within 3 days of flying. With all of these added requirements, it could be quite difficult for those not from the U.S. to get to Disney Parks (whether that be Disneyland or Disney World).

Disneyland Resort in California
Credit: Disney

In the meantime, Guests can still get a taste of the magic in California. Downtown Disney and, by extension, Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure is currently open at Disneyland Resort., the Happiest Place on Earth. Unfortunately, the hotels of the Disneyland Resort (Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa) are temporarily closed alongside the theme parks, so the Downtown Disney District is the only option for visitors right now. If anything, this is only calling for more Guest anticipation and high demand once a reopening date is announced in the future.

dca gates
Credit: ITM

Again, for the most up-to-date information on California travel restrictions and guidelines amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Are you planning on traveling to Disneyland in 2021 if the parks reopen? Let us know below! 

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