California to Drop Capacity, Distancing Rules Next Month

May 21, 2021, 3:16 PM · California will drop its pandemic rules on physical distancing and capacity limitations on June 15, the state announced today.

The change should allow the state's theme parks to resume full operations, admitting more guests and filling attractions to their pre-pandemic capacities. The state will impose some rules after June 15 for "mega events" that draw more than 5,000 people indoors or 10,000 people outdoors, but it is not yet clear how those rules might apply to theme parks specifically.

So far, Disneyland has said that it will end temperature screenings for guests and cast on June 15. Update On that day, parks also should be allowed to accept out-of-state visitors and not just California residents, but so far the resort has noted no other operational changes, including an end to reservation requirements.

A Universal Studios Hollywood spokesperson responded to a request for comment by saying, "The health and safety of our guests and team members is always our top priority. We create our health and safety protocols with consideration for local conditions. We will review the CDC guidelines and move forward in a way that is best for our guests, our team members and our business. For now, we will continue to operate under our existing and enhanced health and safety protocols."

People attending indoor mega events will be required to provide either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test to attend starting June 15, while those will be "strongly recommended" for outdoor mega events and people who do not provide proof of vaccination must wear masks. Those rules are slated to remain in place through October 1. There will be no capacity or distancing restrictions at mega events, but attendees must follow state guidance on mask use.

Keep following for updates.

* * *
We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that - and our approach to covering theme park news - please sign up for our free, twice-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.

Replies (10)

May 21, 2021 at 5:34 PM

We're back, baby!

May 21, 2021 at 10:46 PM

Man I hope Disneyland honors the reservation I made for July 17th. I don’t want to go to the park and be turned away due to capacity being filled.

May 21, 2021 at 10:49 PM

I'd imagine that this new process will look similar to how the parks reopened, with six flags increasing capacity first, with Knotts and universal following suit, and then Disney.

I mean though, it certainly doesn't seem like SFMM has been limiting capacity at all, the park is super packed and the parking lot looks similar to a regular day.

May 22, 2021 at 1:12 AM


You’re not wrong. My sisters work at the park and, yes, SFMM has not been following any of the safety protocols and have allowed more guests beyond what they’re supposed to be limited. It’s awful all around.

May 22, 2021 at 1:51 AM

If you take a look at the parks operated in states with few/no restrictions right now, that's probably a good indication of what California will look like come mid-June. It won't be 100% back to normal, but it will be much closer to normal than the parks are now. Most likely, masks will become optional outdoors, rides will seat every row, all queue areas will be used (likely with distancing and plexiglass), shows will return in some capacity, parks will either eliminate reservations or greatly increase their availability, and hours might get extended. What probably will not happen is the return of things like Fastpass or nighttime spectaculars, and highly interactive attractions like character encounters and play areas probably won't return right away either. It should be a much better experience than parks are now, but still a little different than what they were before.

As for capacity, particularly with regards to SFMM, keep in mind that pre-pandemic an average day at the park was only about 15-20% of their capacity. Sure, the current numbers are larger than they were before, but the biggest problem is rides are only operating at about 1/3 capacity, so a 30% day is going to feel way busier than it actually is. Once the restrictions go away, wait times will probably drop significantly even if the crowd remains the same there, and even somewhere like Disney and Universal the increase in attraction capacity from 25% to 100% will more than cancel out any attendance increase they're likely to have.

May 22, 2021 at 3:48 AM

It sounds like California is finally getting on the right track. Masks, social distancing etc are becoming unnecessary because of the vaccine. However I have to say, if masks are more effective than a vaccine as claimed by many health experts, Disneyland and other parks in California should have been able to open a long time ago. If masks and social distancing are more effective than a vaccine, it would have been safer to be open before with precautions than to open now with fewer precautions. And to be fair, California handled the pandemic better than states that did nothing or almost nothing, but their restrictions have been inconsistent and too restrictive.

May 22, 2021 at 1:05 PM


My observations were based on the abundance of cars in the parking lot. Before covid, the lot would usually fill to about where scream starts. When I arrived at 11:45, the lot was filled to the end of TC with cars still coming in.

I believe the crowds will go down across the board once ride capacity increases, but SFMM doesn’t seem to be limiting capacity at all with @AgustinMacias even confirming it for us.

May 23, 2021 at 3:26 PM

Very happy to see this announcement! But a little perplexed, because if Disneyland goes back to full capacity without reinstating the fastpass system, that's gonna suuuuuuck. Standby lines all day long??

May 23, 2021 at 3:42 PM

@thecolonel: The Jungle Cruise skippers can finally reuse the old jokes of "Indiana Jones and the Four Hour Line."

May 23, 2021 at 7:03 PM

Hahah, seriously.

And I'm lying, I'll be thrilled to do anything in Disneyland. Though I would really like the opportunity to game the noobs and ride all the good stuff twice.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Visitors guides

Weekly newsletter