It’s Been a WILD Year for Disneyland Resort

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year since guests have set their sights on Sleeping Beauty Castle, but those days will come to an end on April 30th when Disneyland Resort finally reopens!

©Disney

From Disneyland’s initial closing announcement to their official reopening announcement, let’s look back on the last twelve months and recap all of the twists and turns it took to ultimately reopen the Happiest Place on Earth.

March 2020

  • March 12th, 2020: Disneyland announces the temporary closure of its theme parks. At the time, the closure was scheduled to last through the end of the month.
Disneyland on its final day of operations prior to closures.
  • March 13th, 2020: Disneyland’s last day of operation before the closures began.
  • March 16th, 2020: Downtown Disney’s last day of operations.
Disneyland Park Entrance just days after the temporary closures began.

April 2020

  • April 14th, 2020: Gavin Newsom says that mass gatherings “that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers, all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.
  • April 17th, 2020: Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger joins California economic recovery task force.
Bob Iger ©Disney

May 2020

  • May 26th, 2020: It was believed that theme parks could reopen as early as June 2020, according to the phased reopening system California had adopted at that time. Back then, there were a series of reopening phases (the state was currently in phase two), and it was announced that theme parks could be included in phase three. Governor Newsom was quoted saying that “Phase 3 is not a year away. It’s not six months away. It’s not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away.”
Gavin Newsom ©(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

June 2020

  • June 10th, 2020: Disneyland announces phased reopening of the parks and resorts to begin on July 17th, 2020 — their 65th anniversary.
Disneyland’s original reopening timeline, announced in June of 2020 ©Disney
  • June 18th, 2020: California passes statewide mask mandate in public places.
  • June 24th, 2020: Two weeks after announcing their plans, Disneyland delays the reopening of their parks.

July 2020

  • July 1st, 2020: Governor Gavin Newsom orders the closure of indoor dining in counties that were on the state’s monitoring list, effective immediately. This list included Orange County, where Disneyland is located.
  • July 9th, 2020: Downtown Disney begins its phased reopening.
Downtown Disney reopened to the public on July 9th, 2020, nearly four months after it closed. ©Disney
  • July 13th, 2020: California expands closure of certain indoor operations, including restaurants, statewide. In addition, Orange County was ordered to close additional indoor operations, including malls. Downtown Disney, an outdoor shopping center, is able to remain open.

August 2020

  • August 10th, 2020: California state officials begin preliminary discussions on how to safely reopen theme parks.
  • August 23rd, 2020: Orange County is removed from the state’s monitoring list.
  • August 28th, 2020: Governor Newsom is asked about the reopening guidance for theme parks during a news conference. He replied to reporters saying that they are “forthcoming.” It would take 2 months before we actually see that guidance for theme parks. California also implemented its colored tier reopening system, replacing the previous numbered phased reopening system. Orange County begins in the Purple “Widespread” Tier.
California’s original reopening tiers, announced in August of 2020 (source: covid19.ca.gov)

September 2020

  • September 8th, 2020: Orange County advances to the Red “Substantial” Tier, which allows for indoor dining to reopen and capacity in stores to increase.
  • September 14th, 2020: The California Attractions and Parks Association, a professional organization that represents Disneyland and other large theme parks in the state, calls for the reopening of theme parks.
  • September 16th, 2020: Disneyland President Ken Potrock releases statement expressing the “disappointment” in the state’s progress towards releasing theme park reopening guidance.
Disneyland Entrance
  • September 16h, 2020: Governor Newsom announces that theme park guidance will be announced “soon” — still approximately one month away from the guidance actually being released.
  • September 24th, 2020: Disneyland President Ken Potrock says parks are “in limbo” without guidance from the state.
  • September 25th, 2020: “Reopen O.C.,” an organization aimed at economic recovery in the county, releases an ad campaign urging the state to allow for theme parks to reopen.
  • September 29th, 2020: Disney announces they will be laying off 28,000 Cast Members.
“Reopen O.C.” ad campaign urging Governor Newsom to allow theme parks to reopen, aired in September of 2020 Source: Anaheim Chamber of Commerce

October 2020

  • October 1st, 2020: Governor Newsom announces that theme park reopening guidance will be shared “this week.”
  • October 1st, 2020: Later that same day, CAPA releases a statement asking the state government to work with theme parks before releasing guidance.
  • October 1st, 2020: Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger suddenly steps down from CA economic recovery task force.
Bob Iger ©Disney
Governor Gavin Newsom in California Press Conference
Ken Potrock’s reaction to California’s original theme park reopening guidance ©Disney
  • October 21st, 2020: California Attractions and Parks Association considers taking legal action against the state.
  • October 23rd, 2020: Three days after the state’s theme park guidance is released, Disney announces that they will reopen Buena Vista Street in California Adventure as an extension of Downtown Disney for shopping and dining.

November 2020

Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure

December 2020

Regional stay-at-home order map updated as of December 29th, 2020 ©CA Public Health

January 2021

  • January 8th, 2021: Disney announces that it will host a mass vaccination site on Disneyland property. The site chosen is the Toy Story Cast Member parking lot, located several blocks away from the Disneyland theme parks.
  • January 14th, 2021: Disneyland announces they will “sunset” their current Annual Passholder Program. It was later announced that their previous Annual Passholders would be renamed as “Legacy Passholders.”
  • January 25th, 2021: California lifts the regional stay-at-home order statewide, and the state reverts back to their color-coded tier reopening system (Orange County moves back to the Purple Tier).
Purple Legacy Passholder Magnet

February 2021

  • February 8th, 2021: Disneyland announces that they will host a ticketed event inside Disney California Adventure for a limited time. The event would not include any rides but will offer shopping and dining opportunities inside a theme park for guests for the first time in over a year.
  • February 17th, 2021: Anaheim City Council votes in favor of a bill that would allow theme parks to reopen in Yellow “Minimal” Tier.
Mayor Harry Sidhu at a 2019 City Council Meeting ©Voice of OC

March 2021

  • March 5th, 2021: California releases modifications to their tiered reopening system based on vaccine distribution in vulnerable communities. This would allow for counties to move more easily into less restrictive tiers once 2 million doses of the vaccine are administered to the lowest economic quartile of residents. It also allows theme parks to reopen in the Red “Substantial” Tier, effective April 1st.
  • March 14th, 2021: Orange County advances to Red “Substantial” Tier after 2 million doses are administered statewide.
  • March 17th, 2021: Disneyland announces reopening date of April 30th for both theme parks! The announcement comes exactly one year to the day following the FULL closure of the Disneyland Resort (remember that Downtown Disney and the resorts remained open through the 16th!)
It’s HAPPENING! ©Disney
It’s A Touch of Disney day!

What a wild 365 days it has been for the Disneyland Resort! Be sure to follow along as we continue to cover the resort’s phased reopening.

Click here to learn more about WHO will be able to visit Disneyland once it reopens.

Do you live in California and are planning on visiting the Disneyland Resort shortly after it reopens? Let us know in the comments!

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