Downtown Disney has finally reopened as of Thursday, July 9th! I went in the evening on reopening day to see for myself what changes Disney has made due to COVID-19. My big question was, is it really safe? I can honestly say that I felt more comfortable being in Downtown Disney than I do going to the grocery store right now. Disneyland has gone well above and beyond to ensure that their guests can still enjoy shops and restaurants all while staying safe. I took pictures during my evening trip that I will share below that shows all the latest updates Disney has made so that you can determine for yourself if it’s worth a visit in this new “normal” time of our lives.
Currently, the only parking lot available for Downtown Disney is at the Simba parking lot. As I was about to make the turn into the Simba lot, there were signs everywhere that said the lot was closed and cast members were waiving people on to keep driving. Not knowing where else to go, I pulled into the main parking lot at Downtown Disney to ask the cast member in the booth what other options we had. The very kind gentleman (who I’m sure had to answer the same questions over and over the entire day) told me that if the Simba lot was closed I could either wait around until the Simba parking lot reopened or that I could find a residential neighborhood to park in. As a heads up, all residential areas around Disneyland require a parking permit so this was obviously not a valid option. Instead, I went down the street to the Anaheim GardenWalk on Disney Way. Parking is free the first hour and then $3 for every hour after. From the GardenWalk it’s about a 15 minute walk to Disneyland entrance. If the Simba lot is closed, I highly recommend going straight to the GardenWalk to park as there is plenty of parking and the walk isn’t at all bad!
As soon as you cross the street and walk onto Disney property face masks must go on. Cast members guide you to white tents where your temperature will taken before going through bag check. I arrived at around 6:30pm and there was no wait and I got through very quickly. I could see that all the cast members were so excited to welcome guests back and that alone immediately made my day ten times better. Every cast member I made eye contact with waived hello to me and enthusiastically welcomed me back. It was hands down the best welcome back I have ever received! At bag check there was plexiglass to protect both guests and the cast members. You then have to show your bag under the glass so they can flash a light to the bottom of your bag. It’s a very quick and efficient process!
After getting through bag check and security, I made my way past Disneyland (yes I did tear up when I saw the parks!) and into Downtown Disney. It was definitely more crowded than I expected it to be during a pandemic, but everyone wore face masks and did a good job of keeping their distance! Hand sanitizing and hand washing stations are accessible throughout the shopping mall. Cast members all around Downtown Disney also do a fantastic job of ensuring that guests keep 6ft apart when standing in lines and ensuring that everyone wears their face masks.
Downtown Disney has been closed for the past 4 months, so I of course had to grab dinner at one of my favorite spots that is currently open with outdoor seating at the UVA Bar. They have delicious cocktails here and they have a small, but great menu! My husband and I split a BBQ Ranch Salad (this was to die for!) and the All-American Burger with garlic fries. The burger includes BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, and applewood smoked bacon. It was the first time we have gone to a restaurant to eat out since mid-March, and it felt so wonderful to sit in the evening summer heat, outdoors, with a good Downtown Disney meal!
After dinner, we spent the rest of the evening walking the rest of Downtown Disney to check out everything that is open and what is still closed. Some restaurants are still not yet open, but I was ecstatic to see the doors open at some of my favorite shops. The emotion I felt at seeing the artwork in my favorite Disney art gallery was overwhelming!
Before heading out, I had to make one last stop in front of the Disneyland gates. It was so odd and eery to see the gates closed in person with no cast members or guests walking around inside the park. As I peered through the gates, I yet again got choked up and so many magical memories flashed before my eyes. I have been to Disneyland hundreds of times and it’s my second home, as it is for so many of you. It was so unfathomable standing there seeing that Disneyland was closed at that time of night, and that it has been closed for months. Being there made me appreciate everything that Walt Disney created for us a little more!
I did also happen to see that they had already installed plexiglass at the turnstiles where they scan your ticket. It made me so excited to think that Disneyland is getting prepared to welcome all of us back!
All in all, I felt 100% safe being in Downtown Disney. It felt great to be back and I am already looking forward to my next trip!
Here’s a look at some extra photos I took at the reopening of Downtown Disney!