On May 5th, my family and I went to Disneyland (less than a week after it reopened). Our visit had all the good feels of a Disney trip but with some COVID nuances that are unique to this time in history. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets or if you plan to buy them, I’ve written down some things to know.
PARKING AND GETTING IN TO THE PARK – this was the longest wait of the day. It took an hour from lining up for the parking kiosk to stepping a foot onto Main Street.
EATING & SPECIAL DIETS–All food establishments inside Disneyland are by mobile order only through the app. It’s convenient and during COVID we all got used to this way of ordering, but it has some drawbacks for those of us who follow a special diet.
I used the mobile app to order from the Galactic Grill near Space Mountain because I know I can get a lettuce-wrapped burger there and the chef will come out and talk to me about my food allergies. I was able to customize meals and it has a variety of special diet menus including gluten-free (love Disney’s dedication to special dietary needs) BUT it wouldn’t let me opt for “no bun” (the only option was a gluten-free bun).
Since it is not an option for me to just take off the bun and throw it away, I needed to speak to a person - which is not as simple as walking up to the window. It took getting through a few gatekeepers including an attendant at the food court and a manager, but I got to order my specialty item at a window with a real person who could make modifications for me. It wasn’t hard it just took a few steps.
I want to add that the manager was surprised there wasn’t a lettuce-wrap or no-bun option too, and has reported this to the powers that be. So hopefully that will be an option in the near future.
WALKING –According to my fancy running watch, we walked over 15,000 steps which is equivalent to 7 miles. Every Disneyland trip is a LOT of walking but this time the lack of trams meant additional stretches on foot. Plus, perhaps because of fewer places to just plop down and sit for a while, it felt like we were on our feet for much longer than normal. All the more reason to wear sensible shoes and to drink more water.
25% CAPACITY IS BLISS – Even at 11am, Main Street was so quiet I could have run with flailing arms from the train station to the castle without saying "excuse me" once. Inside the park, some of the main walkways areas felt crowded because the rides that have vast inside spaces (like Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, and Splash Mountain) had diverted their lines there. Also the 6-12 ft social distancing between guests made it look crowded but it’s was just the perception, Honestly, I kinda loved the social distanced lines that made waiting much more comfortable since there was no one bumping into me as we shuffled along (why do people stand so close?). . The average wait time for rides was 10 minutes and for most of them we had a car/boat to ourselves.
As I said, we paid a premium for the tickets and I can honestly say I would do it again! After a year of shutdowns, non-normalcy, and avoiding gatherings, a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth was the best benchmark of getting back to normal