Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort this morning welcomed its first guests since the parks closed due to the pandemic back in March.
Only Buena Vista Street and two adjacent locations reopened in what Disneyland is calling an extension of its Downtown Disney shopping and dining district. As such, there is no admission charge to enter the park, but fans who chose to park in the resort's Simba Lot must pay $10 per car — with no validation or discounts for annual passholders.
Disneyland had not been charged for parking since Downtown Disney reopened this summer, so perhaps the new parking charge today helped keep crowds manageable. While some fans were queued up hours before the area's official 10am opening, the park absorbed the crowd well, with fans reporting no significant waits for walk-up restaurants by the lunch hour, though there was a virtual queue to get into stores. All available lunch spots at the Carthay Circle's new outdoor dining experience were claimed within minutes of being made available this morning.
Disney California Adventure is reopening just as state officials are working to restrict activity in the state, due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in California as well as the rest of the nation. State officials this week returned Disneyland's Orange County to the Purple Tier 1, the state's most restrictive under its Covid-19 reopening plan. That closed indoor dining within the county and limited retail shops to 25 percent of their normal capacity.
In addition, the state today implemented a 10pm to 5am curfew on "non-essential" activity. That should not directly affect Downtown Disney, which is open from 10am to 8pm daily. However, state officials are warning against non-essential travel and gatherings in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, in the hopes of keeping people at home and reducing the further spread of the virus. So that's not exactly the vibe that encourages people to spend part of their day at Disney.
Nevertheless, Disneyland is serving up its famous corn dogs at Award Weiners while Smokejumpers Grill and Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe are now open for counter-service dining. For those wanting a sit-down meal, Carthay Circle Lounge's Alfresco Dining is taking reservations via the official Disneyland app, serving small plates and entrees from $12-26. Shops on Buena Vista Street are open as well, though at the required reduced capacities.
How long all that will continue remains up in the air. Officials in neighboring Los Angeles County have said that they will close all outdoor dining if the five-day average of new Covid-19 cases exceeds 4,500 a day — which the county is on pace to beat over the weekend. While that decision will not directly affect Orange County, Disneyland might have to start packing all the meals served in Downtown Disney "to go" if the state chooses to follow LA's lead and crack down further.
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