Disneyland reopens for the first time in over a year with cheers, shorter lines and a no-hugging rule

·4 min read
Disneyland guests are overcome with emotions at the April 30 re-opening of the California theme park. (Photo Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Disneyland guests are overcome with emotions at the April 30 re-opening of the California theme park. (Photo Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park opened their doors on Friday — for the first time in 13 months — to mouse-eared and masked fans who cheered as the gates opened.

In March 2020, the Anaheim theme parks closed indefinitely as the coronavirus pandemic raged through California. Now, with the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the country (33 cases per 100,000 people), the state permitted a phased reopening in the spring. On Wednesday and Thursday, both Disney parks opened with a soft preview for cast members and local organizations such as Anaheim Family YMCA (Mickey Mouse opened the gates himself) before the official opening day.

On Friday, the park opened at 25 percent capacity to California residents with proof of residency who purchased an entry ticket and a reservation, and in groups no larger than three households. Masks are required for entry and only removed when eating or drinking "but you must be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing," reads the website. "Eating and drinking are permitted only in designated dining areas, and are not permitted while queuing or in attractions. Disney reserves the right to require a Guest to leave if they are not properly wearing an approved face covering."

No-touch temperature screenings are conducted at the park entrance. Guests with temperatures of 100.4 F or higher are subject to additional screenings and will not be allowed inside, along with members of their party.

Many guests had been camped out at the park entrance since 4 a.m., five hours before the park opened for business, then chanted a count-down — "Three! Two! One!" — as the gates finally opened.

Mingling in the crowd was Disney executive chairman Bob Iger, who tweeted from Main Street, "A truly happy day at the happiest place on earth."

Guests tweeted while riding newly-renovated attractions such as Snow White's Enchanted Wish (formerly Snow White's Scary Adventure) which boasts a new Snow White dancing character, an updated dwarf mine bedazzled with diamonds and a fresh coat of paint on the exterior of the attraction. The Haunted Mansion, on which guests ride on a "Doom Buggy" and encounter ghostly holograms, was updated with new supernatural creatures in its outdoor cemetery and a moving wall portrait of a woman aging in mere seconds.

One guest tweeted from Indiana Jones Adventure, a fast-paced simulated trip to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, "Disneyland is doing a great job of keeping guests physically distanced. We were the only ones in our Indiana Jones Adventure vehicle."

Mickey Mouse was spotted at his home in Toontown, keeping a safe distance from crows on his porch. Per park rules, guests are not allowed to hug characters in photos.

With FASTPASS and Disney MaxPass (services that allow guests to time their attractions to minimize wait times) currently suspended and not available for purchase, it took roughly one hour to wait in line, tweeted one on KABC reporter. "This trip had the shortest lines I’ve ever experienced in my life," guest Anum Syed told the New York Times. "The longest was 25 minutes and everything was 15 minutes or less."

And while restaurants were open, they're operating with outdoor seating and limited indoor seating at "select" locations. Table-service eateries also require advanced reservations.

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