Guests Flee Disneyland Amid Invasive Security Tests, No-Bag Rule

in Disneyland Resort

Digital sign at an amusement park showing a 5-minute wait time at the stand-by entrance of an attraction, with ornate red decorations around the sign. It is a screenshot from a video about crowds being down at Disney California Adventure Park.

Credit: @chelseamitch11 via TikTok

Disneyland Resort beefed up security in recent months, frustrating longtime Disney Park fans who want to enter The Happiest Place on Earth as quickly as possible. Though the Mouse can do no wrong in many guests’ eyes, Disney might’ve taken one step too far as crowds disappear from the Southern California theme parks.

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park fans can’t catch a break lately. Amid exciting (albeit slowgoing) news about the Disneyland Forward expansion and Pandora: The World of Avatar, Disneyland Resort announced a flood of new policies that confused thousands of guests.

A pathway at Disneyland with only a few groups of guests.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Last month, The Walt Disney Company announced it would not allow bags at the biggest Disney Park fan event of the year, the D23 Expo presentation at the Honda Center. Because the convention takes place just down the road, visitors often take advantage of the off-hours to visit Disneyland Resort. The Disney Resort didn’t change its bag policy alongside the D23 Expo, but the event’s rule adds extra stops back at the hotel room to an already-exhausting weekend.

Days ago, guests reported that Disneyland Resort began testing invasive security technology. When select guests entered Disney California Adventure Park, a computer prompted Disney cast members to check if they had photos on file. If they didn’t, the system required that the cast member take one. Then, facial recognition software scanned guests’ faces to ensure the person using the Disney Park ticket matched its owner.

disneyland crowds, empty main street
Credit: Inside the Magic

The software trial run scared many fans, some of whom saw facial recognition at a theme park as a privacy violation. Others were frustrated not because of the invasiveness but because of the wasted time. As with any pilot program, Disneyland Resort’s new software is finicky. Many guests reported that they had to remove hats, glasses, and other accessories for the camera to correctly match their appearance with their photo.

It’s uncertain whether Disneyland Resort plans to move forward with the technology; Walt Disney World Resort tested something similar in 2021 but never implemented it Resort-wide. Still, this and another non-Disney contributing factor may have scared away some Disney Parks guests.

Last weekend, Chelsea (@chelseamitch11 on TikTok) shared this video compilation of an empty Disney California Adventure Park. “Coachella this weekend means no one’s at Disney,” she wrote.

@chelseamitch11

the park is literally empty & all rides are walk on #coachella #disneyland #coachellaweekend1

♬ queen of disaster with sparkles – ˚ ˚。° ⋆♡˚🎀 ꒰ ྀི ◞ ˕ ก ꒱ ⭐️

As the first weekend of Coachella kicked off in the California Desert, it stole many of the 20-somethings that would usually spend the weekend at the Disney parks. Disneyland Resort is more of a “local” theme park than Walt Disney World Resort, where a nearby festival wouldn’t impact the tens of thousands of tourists that descend daily on Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Other Disney Parks guests confirmed that crowds vanished overnight.

“No literally no one was there today,” said @asia….asia.

disneyland crowds on main street, u.s.a.
Credit: Inside the Magic

“I was wondering why it was so empty this morning,” @miaaac_ replied.

Whatever the reason behind the sudden dampened crowds at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, it won’t last long. The video went viral, amassing more than 600,000 likes and thousands of comments suggesting that the best time to visit Disneyland Resort is during the second weekend of Coachella, April 19-21. Soon, the tip will be on every online crowd calendar, and the theme parks busier than ever!

What’s your most recent experience with the crowd level at Disneyland Park, Downtown Disney, and Disney California Adventure Park? Share your observations with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

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