Disney California Adventure Opens Up as the State Cracks Down

November 19, 2020, 6:36 PM · 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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Replies (10)

November 19, 2020 at 8:47 PM

When will the parks be allowed to open?

November 19, 2020 at 9:04 PM

No one knows yet. The current guidelines state, in simple terms, that Disneyland and the big SoCal parks can't open until the county they are in moves to the yellow tier. However, since Orange County has moved back to the purple tier, the highest tier, it'll be a while before Disneyland opens. Earlier this week Disney said that they don't expect opening until at earliest March of next year.

It's kinda sad to see everything close back up, and now Newsom is implementing a curfew for California. I'm sure this will be the trend until a vaccine is dispersed. Until then, things will get better then close back up again.

I heard that people were lining up at 5 am to get into DTD this morning. I remember waking up at 5:45am just for ROTR when it came out. I thought that would be the earliest I'd ever wake up for DL. It's kinda crazy how much people love the parks, but I guess thats what 8-9 months of everything closed does.

November 19, 2020 at 10:24 PM

It sucks but can't blame Newsom with every state seeing spikes and many forced to do more closures. Well, except Florida but then we already know DeSantis is an idiot.

November 19, 2020 at 10:46 PM

Maybe so, but Newsom's points about keeping parks closed might land better if he wasn't caught with egg on his face at the French Laundry.

November 20, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Once again, California is caught in a contradiction. If Newsom really wants to "pull the emergency brake" on COVID, expanding retail and dining offerings at a popular tourist attraction is about as opposite as you can get. I'm curious to see how long this lasts, especially if they have people mobbing the place on a regular basis. As much as I'd love to see things like this open, now isn't really a good time to be doing that sort of thing, and may actually be counter productive to getting theme parks back to proper operation (which, IMO, is no more risky than what's being allowed here).

As for your question, Timbo, best case scenario is probably March, most plausible scenario is probably summer 2021, but there's not a single person on this planet who can do anything but guess right now.

November 20, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Keep in mind, like many governors, Newsom is under vast pressure from businesses not to be closing down at holiday peak season as a huge economic and social blow. It's pretty clear in Illinois, Pritzker would want to go for a shutdown for a couple of weeks but doing short of that with places open, just limited customers as putting people out of work at this time of year is not a good look.

November 20, 2020 at 12:42 PM

My husband went yesterday, not really knowing in advance today was the opening day for Buena Vista Street.
He had a good day, but said it was a day of waiting in line.
It took him over 90 minutes to go from the parking lot through the temperature check and bag check. He parked in the Simba lot and said one thing Disney needs to do is provide shade the opportunity to hydrate and for restrooms. He said it was not plesant, but was moving well.
Once in he hurried down to the entrance to DCA and scanned the QR code to get in the virtual like to go into the park. The app said there were 720 parties ahead of him, but gave no indication of what that would translate to time wise. Turns out over 4 1/2 hours. In the interim, he also QR coded the Disney Home Store and The World of Disney Store. Each had more well more than an hour wait to get the message to return to the store, then over an hour wait in a physical queue to enter the shop. He said that once he was in the shops, it was great, but the waiting process is again exhausting. Much like going to ComicCon here in San Diego, there is NO WHERE TO SIT. All benches, and planter beds that double as seating have signs stating that siting is not allowed. Even if you were to find yourself along one of those planters while in a physical queue Cast Members would politely, yet sternly make you stand up. I'm really not sure being at DTD would be worth going if I couldn't just stop and enjoy myself in the environment on a bench for a bit. During his time waiting he did have lunch at Earl of Sandwich and said he only waited about 15 minutes off mealtime peak. He said it was a wonderful experience as always, but without all the crowds one usually encounters.
Once he got the notice he was able to go into DCA, he headed down to the physical queue to wait again over an hour to be let in. There was no issue social distancing in the open portions of the park. The stores again required a QR scan to join a virtual queue then a rerun and physical queue to enter the store. All of the restaurants required ordering and payment via the Mobile App except for the Starbucks. He had a Corn-dog and smiled wistfully hours later at home telling me about it. The man loves a good corn-dog.
I asked about Holiday decorations. He said the everything was decorated for the holidays, but the large Christmas Tree found in the plaza near Carthcay Circle was no there.
Overall he said he had a great time and was glad he went.
My schedule didn't permit me to go along and I'm not sure I will want to go until after Christmas if the weekends are as busy up there as I expect them to be.
I may take a mental health day in early January and venture up. I'm curious to see if DCA will be still part of the operation in the traditionally slower time in the first couple of weeks of January, or if they even open up more possibly including Main Street if this proves successful.
I'm curious to know if anyone else went up and what their experiences were like.

November 20, 2020 at 3:18 PM

"As much as I'd love to see things like this open, now isn't really a good time to be doing that sort of thing, and may actually be counter productive to getting theme parks back to proper operation."

100% agree AJ, well said.

Here in San Fran they said my 2nd grader MIGHT get to go back to school on March 1, nearly a year since she was last there. Looks like there's no plan for my 5th grader to go back this year at all.

So yeah, not exactly sure how and more importantly why Disneyland, or bars, or movie theaters, or anything else is allowed to open when schools can't.

November 20, 2020 at 4:27 PM

Well, in Illinois, schools are open while other entertainment places (Museums, theaters, arcades, fun centers, etc) are closed. But that's due to how in this state, relations between teacher unions, school boards, and governments can be....let's be charitable and say "contentious."

November 21, 2020 at 7:49 PM

Sounds like Illinois is doing it much smarter than California. If I had one wish it would be that my kids could start school, remote schooling is a real bummer for them.

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