Part of Disneyland Has Just Reopened After An 8-Month Closure—But There’s a Catch

After an eight-month hiatus as a result of the pandemic, guests took their first steps back inside one of Disneyland’s theme parks today. Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure closed their gates on March 14, and with highly restrictive theme park reopening guidelines in place for California, a true reopening isn’t expected to be achievable until well into 2021. So, like some other California theme parks, Disney has gotten creative, introducing a new way to give fans a small taste of a return to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”  

On Nov. 19, Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street opened to guests for shopping and dining. While guests won’t be able to go on any rides or even make their way deep into the park (read: no photos in front of the iconic Pixar Pier backdrop), they can still sip cocktails and dine on small plates outdoors at Carthay Circle Lounge, grab a burger at Smokejumpers Grill or a corn dog at Award Wieners, shop at several retail locations, or snack on popcorn and Mickey-shaped treats.


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The move is being called an extension of the Downtown Disney District, Disneyland’s shopping, dining and entertainment district that sits adjacent to the resort’s two theme parks, which began a phased reopening July 9. In the absence of open parks, some Disney superfans, most of whom are Disneyland annual passholders, have still clamored to the Downtown Disney District to scoop up official Disney merchandise and snacks. Others visit just to be near the parks they love and miss. 


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Just how eager are Disney fans to get back inside a theme park? Very, it would seem. According to some reports, guests began lining up as early as 4am to get their shot at entering Buena Vista Street on reopening day. To manage demand, some Downtown Disney District stores and restaurants, including Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle Lounge, will utilize a mobile waitlist when at capacity, alerting guests by text when they are able to return.


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Marin native Carly Anderson, originally from San Anselmo, lives in San Diego with her husband and daughter and is looking forwarding to a visit to Buena Vista Street after Thanksgiving. They’ve been annual passholders for years and, until March, made regular trips to the parks. (Editor’s note: The following photo was taken in 2019. Disneyland Resort now requires all guests over the age of two to wear a mask at all times.)


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“We’re a Disney family through and through,” Carly says. “My daughter even shares a birthday with Walt Disney and we’ve spent the majority of her birthdays in the park, celebrating in the most magical way.”

As a Disneyland regular, Carly says her family doesn’t just miss the theme parks, they are also missing the Cast Members (Disney speak for employees) who make their visits special. Citing the impact of the pandemic, Disney announced the layoff of 28,000 employees from the parks division. Disney fans have mobilized to raise money for furloughed and laid-off Cast Members, and guests like Carly cite support of remaining Cast Members as another reason to make a point of visiting the Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street.

“It’s really important to us to support Disney and the Cast Members who have made so many special memories for our family,” she says. “We miss them as much as the characters, and we’re excited to visit Buena Vista Street over the holidays.”

Photo courtesy of the Disneyland Resort

Both Buena Vista Street and the greater Downtown Disney District will be decked out in holiday décor, with plenty of holiday treats and merchandise on offer. With Orange County, where Disneyland is located, recently regressing into the most restrictive purple tier, it’s unlikely that guests will see Disneyland’s theme parks reopen in the traditional sense any time soon. But, Carly says, this is better than nothing.

“It may be different this year, but… magic is magic.”

Buena Vista Street will be open from 10am to 8pm every day. Entry is free but there is a $10 charge for parking in the Simba parking lot. 

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Brooke Geiger McDonald

Brooke Geiger McDonald is the national content director of Make It Better Media Group. A Chicago native, she has worked for publications like O, The Oprah Magazine and SHAPE Magazine and her work has appeared in The Points Guy, Parents, TravelPulse, Attractions Magazine, MSN, Disney Food Blog, and more. Follow her on Instagram @brookegmcdonald and Twitter @BrookeGMcDonald.