It’s been a crazy rollercoaster of a ride for Disneyland these last few months. Every time it looks like the Anaheim parks may be able to reopen, there’s a sudden change that pushes that back. Today, we’ll fill you in on the current holdup and why we think it might not be as bad as many folks are saying. We also have some examples for you of how Disneyland could open right away if they wanted to get clever. Plus, we’ll share photos from the newly reopened SeaWorld San Diego, Downtown Disney, Knott’s Berry Farm, and from our fantastic readers themselves! It’s a great Update folks, let’s dive right in . . . 

New California Blueprint For Reopening

Last week brought a bit of good news as Orange County (where Disneyland is located) was moved off the state’s COVID watchlist. That, combined with Disney’s assertion that they were ready to reopen as soon as they were given a go-ahead, gave us all hope that the parks would be reopening soon. However, all that changed on Friday with new guidelines from the state. Orange County was essentially moved to the worst level of the state’s new blueprint for reopening. 

The new California guidelines rate the individual counties by the number of new COVID cases they are getting daily (for example, 7 or more cases per 100,000 residents would land a county in the “Widespread” category), as well as the positivity rate on COVID tests. Each of the new levels grants a different class of business to reopen (in varying capacities).  

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A county must remain at its assigned tier for at least 3 weeks before being able to move to a less restrictive tier. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s requirements for at least two weeks. But a county will be moved back to a more restrictive tier if they fail to meet their current tier’s status for two weeks in a row. Each county’s data will be reevaluated every Tuesday.  

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Los Angeles and Orange County are currently at the most restrictive level, “Widespread.”  San Diego is at the less restrictive “Substantial” tier.  

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However, even at the most restrictive level, the state now allows all retail (with restrictions), outdoor dining, outdoor experiences at zoos, and certain outdoor activities at family entertainment centers (like Boomers and Castle Park). San Diego will be able to resume limited access to indoor dining, movie theaters, and indoor activities at zoos, museums and aquariums.  And Orange County’s indoor malls are preparing to reopen shopping today.  

So the path isn’t as extreme as some might think. But it is very much dependent on a county’s ability and willingness to battle the spread of the virus. If Orange County is able to dig out of the “Widespread” tier, they could resume some indoor dining, theaters, increased shopping capacity, and more in just 3 weeks. 

The one thing that isn’t listed in the state’s guidelines above is anything to do with Theme Parks! However, the state has promised to create a new set of guidelines specifically for theme parks within the next couple of weeks. So, while it might seem like the indoor attractions might be many months away, it’s quite possible that the state will be a bit more lenient with theme parks since Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Legoland and others have already been operating elsewhere in the country with superior safety standards to most businesses. AND with Bob Iger (Disney’s former CEO) on the state’s taskforce on job recovery, you can be sure he’s been leading the discussion on behalf of the industry.  

While we don’t know when the theme park guidelines will be announced, or which tier they will ultimately be allowed to begin operation, we do feel that theme parks pose no greater risk than current shopping and dining activities in highly-limited capacity (See our last Disney World Update for photos of a nearly empty Epcot).  Therefore, at the “Substantial” tier in which restaurants would begin offering indoor dining at 25% capacity, theme parks should probably also be allowed to operate in a similar limited capacity (ramping up attendance and offerings as their counties advance to less restrictive tiers). 

Why Wait When You Can Open Now

As you saw in the California Blueprint above, shopping and outdoor dining are allowed even at the most restrictive tiers. Based upon those guidelines, Disney and Universal have been operating their popular shopping districts, and Knott’s Berry Farm has opened access to their park as a shopping and festival dining location (but no rides). SeaWorld took things a step further this past weekend when they reopened as a “Zoo” with outdoor shows, food, and shopping, but no attractions. 

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SeaWorld San Diego has reopened on weekends with outdoor entertainment, food, shopping . . . but no rides.

So, why should Disneyland wait? Disneyland could absolutely open their parks for shopping and dining now and start adding certain rides, shows, and increased capacity as they are allowed. 

Knott’s has been operating on weekends with their Taste of Calico/Knott’s events. We’ve attended multiple times and think the value of the experience (5 tastes for $30) is a pretty good deal. 

SeaWorld is also open for food, shows, and limited shopping. Their “Zoo Days” runs on weekends only: 

If Disney were to reopen with no rides, or very few rides, but with access to food, shopping, and limited entertainment, would you be interested in attending? 

Downtown Disney Buyer Beware 

Since Downtown Disney is the only thing currently open at Disneyland, we’ve spent quite a bit of time there sharing news, updates, reopenings, and new merchandise with you. And while it’s nice that there’s a little bit of Disney for you to enjoy, there are a couple of unfortunate things that have become quite obvious. 

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A conga line of cars stretched from Ball Road all the way toward Katella on Disneyland Drive . . . only to find out that the Downtown Disney lot was closed when they finally inched toward their destination.

Although the weekdays are generally lovely, weekends have become so overcrowded and difficult to access parking, that it really isn’t worth attending. Both Saturday and Sunday were insanely crowded with hundreds of cars just circling the resort hoping for a chance to park.

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There were signs letting drivers know that parking “may be paused due to capacity,” but no indication of what the current conditions were.

Once arriving, officers in various states of mask usage were turning guests away.  (Note that guests are screened for mask usage before parking, not sure why they aren’t requiring their parking enforcement officers to do the same).  

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At one point, they did open the lot to get people off the road, but that just caused an unsafe social distancing issue as guests were queued up outside of Downtown Disney waiting in the hot sun for a chance to shop.  

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Once parked, many guests found themselves waiting out in the heat. This disconcerting line was shared in the MiceChat Facebook Group by Martina Longobardi

The weekend crowds just seem to be getting worse. It’s probably time for Disneyland to either start registering guests in advance on weekends to prevent this sort of overcrowding or vastly expand the capacity of Downtown Disney —perhaps by opening Main Street and Buena Vista Street for shopping.  

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Folks cooped up at home for half a year are seriously craving their Disney fix. Case in point, a shopping event that starts today sold out as soon as word leaked out. No advance notice was given to APs, and was only announced on Disneyland’s social media channels. (Needless to say, there are some disgruntled would-be guests who didn’t even hear about the event before tickets sold out!)

UPCOMING DOWNTOWN DISNEY SHOPPING EVENT SELLS OUT OF RESERVATIONS WITHIN HOUR

Disney’s 4 main stores continue to dominate the majority of the business in Downtown Disney. Waits can reach well over an hour for the Home Store, Marceline’s, and World of Disney. The Disney Dress Shop also develops a line, but it’s generally much less of a wait.  World of Disney remains the big prize, and guests seem willing to wait a long time to get in.  

, Disneyland Update – The Blueprint For ReopeningSpeaking of World of Disney, here’s what’s new, and what’s hot. . . 

World of Disney Mini-Merchandise Update

On our trip to Downtown Disney over the weekend, we popped into World of Disney to see what’s been added since the last time we checked.

2020 on sale – If you are like us, 2020 can’t be over soon enough. We certainly don’t want to wear it on our clothes. Disney has its 2020 dated merchandise Buy One Get One Free. 
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We noticed that much of the 2020 dated merchandise was part of a”Buy One, Get One” promotion.

Ear Headbands

Ear Headbands are always in style at the Disney Parks and we spotted several new varieties. 

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Call it Dandelion or Saffron, this yellow-hued Minnie Mouse Ear Headband is a bold new addition to the lineup. The soft, fuzzy fabric that was used is a nice change of pace from the typical sequins or printed fabric.

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This Emerald Green Minnie Mouse Ear Headband is particularly eye-catching, with sequins on the ears and band. The bow is also made of shimmering fabric. This accessory would probably look even more like a gem shimmering out in the sun rather than in a store.

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Something festive was added to the Halloween line-up recently, the Minnie Mouse Witch Ear Headband. The hat itself is modeled after candy corn with the bow resembling a piece of wrapped candy; the ears have the traditional black sequins on them.

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Oogie Boogie is the star of this light-up Ear Headband. We wonder if this one was originally intended for the now-canceled Oogie Boogie Bash.

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The Oogie ears are part of a special $10 sale on Halloween glow items.

Jungle Cruise Skipper Supplies

Ravensburger’s new Jungle Cruise Adventure Game now, fittingly, has a Disney Parks edition. What sets it apart from the standard edition is the different board layout and art.

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The fabulous fauna of the Jungle Cruise have been immortalized (albeit in a cartoony style) as an ornament set. 

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What better way to work in the old “Backside of Water” joke that on an actual water bottle?

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Doesn’t the skipper on this cookie jar look like Walt Disney? If you don’t think so, then you are in de-Nile.

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Several shirts honoring the beloved Adventureland attraction are available.

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There was also this nifty-looking backpack. It is impressively roomy, which would be great for excursions into the unknown… or for trips to the classroom, whatever that may look like this year!

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All Things Coco

Fall isn’t exclusively for Halloween. In addition to the iconic flavor of Pumpkin Spice, you can also celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, which makes the new Coco merchandise quite timely.

This crossbody purse, modeled after the film’s iconic guitar, is a brilliant design choice. It has tons of embroidered details plus plenty of room to store necessities.

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Speaking of that guitar, a new plush of Miguel holding the otherworldly instrument is now available.

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This Luchador Dante joins Miguel as a new plush addition. You may remember seeing him dressed in this outfit in the Pixar short, “Dante’s Lunch.”

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Odds and Ends

The whole leggings/t-shirt combo is one that has worked well in past Disney merchandise collections. So much so that a few new pieces have been added to the repertoire. On the left, the shirt and leggings pay homage to the happiest cruise that ever sailed, it’s a small world. The pattern on the leggings looks similar to the attraction’s facade. I will say though, it’s too bad that the shirt isn’t more vibrant because it looks like a sleepwear set.

And on the right, the shirt and leggings (which are Capri length) are simply a colorful way to show your love of Disneyland and Mickey Mouse.

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Similarly, you’ll find coordinated Disney dog designs, as well as Winnie the Pooh, and birds! 

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Similar to the light spinner released for last year’s Halloween, a grinning Mickey Jack-o’-Lantern twirls as teeny, little candies orbit it.

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Like the light spinner, this light-up necklace is similar to the seasonal variety we see this time of year. Strung along the necklace, you’ll find Mickey Jack-o’-Lanterns, wrapped candy, and candy corn, all of which light up. . . and are on sale for $10. 

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I took a live walkthrough of World of Disney early last week on our Facebook page, here’s the footage for those of you who want to see what the store looks like and the current merchandise mix: 

There’s still some seasonal merch that we haven’t seen at Downtown Disney and was previewed a few weeks ago. Someone let me know when the Hades Spirit Jersey is in stock! Check out the articles below to see more Disney Halloween items, both available now and coming soon.

Tricks AND Treats – Halloween Merchandise Hits Downtown Disney

Hocus Pocus – It’s a shopDisney Halloween!

Spooky Season On The Way – New Disney Parks Halloween Collections

It’s Time for a Festival – MiceChat Reader Photos

As we noted earlier, we think that Disneyland really could be doing something in the parks as their competitors are. And the most obvious way to do it would be to launch some sort of food and shopping event. We asked the MiceChat Facebook group to share some of their favorite photos from festivals past. Hopefully, Disney will take the hint! Let’s take a minute and remember some delicious goodies and happier days at the Disneyland Resort.

Pixar Fest

Pixar Fest made its debut in 2018 and celebrated in both Disneyland and DCA. With an all-new firework show, “Together Forever” the return of “Paint the Night Parade,” and lots of colorful food, this was a festival that left a great impression. 

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“Pixar Fest 2018, AP Corner” – Susie

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Festival of Holidays

When winter comes around at DCA, you don’t have to choose just one holiday to celebrate, you’ve got several options to choose from with the Festival of Holidays. While there’s so much uncertainty happening right now, here’s hoping that our holiday-season fares better than Halloween!

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“Festival of Holidays 2017” – Susie
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“Festival of Holidays 2019 Sip & Savor Pass & AP pin” – Vy
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“Churro Toffee Cold Brew – Festival of Holidays 2019” – Vy

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Lunar New Year

Right after Festival of Holidays wraps up, there’s another festival hot on its heels! Lunar New Year celebrates a multicultural approach to the new year, and DCA sure looks pretty in all the red and gold!

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“Lunar New Year festival 2020” – Vy
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“Lunar New Year was so much fun!” – Luis

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“Disney California Adventure Lunar New Year Festival” – Sandi
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Black Sesame Mochi Donut!

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Food & Wine Festival

And now for the main course: DCA’s Food & Wine Festival. With booths spread out along all of the parade route (and in previous years throughout several areas of the park), this would make the perfect festival for Disney to reopen with. Here’s some favorites from the last few F&W Festivals!

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“Food and Wine 2019, I believe.” – Nikkie
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“I’m a total foodie, and I always love seeing what Disney does for their food and beverage festivals. Here’s a few of my favorites from Food & Wine this year (that was sadly cut short because of COVID): Warm Monkey Bread with Whiskey Caramel Sauce” – Nathan
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“Brunch Fried Chicken & Waffle with Mimosa Slaw and OJ Bubbles” -Nathan
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“and finally the Caramel-Peanut-Milk Chocolate Macaron!” – Nathan

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“2019 DCA Food & Wine festival – Pizza egg rolls” – Vy

Thank you to everyone who shared a photo with us this week! We were only able to pick a handful of pictures to include in the Update this week, but to see the rest of the Festival pics, be sure to visit the MiceChat Facebook group!

This & That

And now for some of the other news from the Disney/theme park circles.

Pixar Fest 2020

While this summer has been one for books (and not exactly in a fun way), there’s something good looking ahead. Disney has put together a fun month-long celebration of Pixar films. Festivities include watch-along films every week, new merchandise, and some snackable recipes. Find all this and more in the article below.

Pixar Fest 2020: Toys, Clothes & Watch-Alongs!

Galaxy’s Edge Merch Available at a Target in a Galaxy Not-So-Far-Away

Last month, Disney announced that new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge merchandise would be escaping the magical handcuffs of the solidly depicted in-universe planet of Batuu and making its way to your local Target. You can find droids, action figures of characters in the land, and all sorts of toys. You can see some of the new items in the article below.

New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Merchandise Selling Out at Target

And there’s another new experience involving Star Wars land: an expansion for The Sim’s 4. Your characters can visit Black Spire Outpost for a faithfully recreated experience. Perhaps there will be actual area music in the digital version of the land? You can read more about the upcoming game pack in the link below.

The Sims Take on Galaxy’s Edge in Star Wars: Journey to Batuu Game Pack

Disneyland Looking for Avengers Campus Entertainers

Last week, Disneyland put out a call for performers to play the characters of Black Panther, Captain America, and others. While it may be a little too soon to speculate on Disneyland’s opening, we’re glad to hear that they’ve still got plans for a stunt show (of some sort, at least).

Disneyland Stunt Performer Auditions Set for Avengers Campus


Let Us Help

Theme parks are reopening, and whether you are ready to travel yet or not, there’s no better time to lock in low rates on future travel. But waiting on hold and not knowing what questions to ask isn’t the magical part of a vacation. That’s why MiceChat has partnered with Get Away Today to handle all the difficult stuff for you . . . all for no extra cost. That’s right, they do all the work and it doesn’t cost you extra. 

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Our travel partners at Get Away Today are here to help you with your theme park booking and rescheduling plans. We know you’re as uncertain about the future as we are. That’s why Get Away Today is offering the most flexible Disney travel options available. Ask about:  

Price Protection – If a better special comes out after you have booked, you’ll get the better deal. 

Peace of Mind – Make hotel changes, reschedule dates, drop nights, change ticket vouchers and more, as many times as you’d like for a small, one-time fee.

Layaway Plan – Lock in your 2020 or 2021 Walt Disney World Resort vacation for just $175 down. By booking early, you secure your availability and have the flexibility to pay as you go. Make as many interest-free payments as you’d like, whenever you’d like, with final payment due just seven days prior to travel.

Give your family something to look forward to


Let’s Hear From You

As we head into another week, we’re hoping for more clarification on what California’s new guidelines could mean for the reopening of Disneyland and other theme parks. But should Disneyland wait at all? Can you see the Disneyland Resort offering a festival like its competitors Knott’s and SeaWorld have done recently? What was your favorite DCA festival? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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One day, hopefully soon…

 

More Theme Park News

You’ve made it to the bottom of today’s Disneyland Update, and you’re still hungry for more theme park updates? We’ve got you covered with the articles below. Happy readings!

Walt Disney World Update – Halloween Lives On After All

How to Enjoy Your Family’s Walt Disney World Trip with New Guidelines

Universal Orlando Update – Dinosaurs, Crêpes & Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!

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Dusty is the founder and CEO of MiceChat.com. When he's not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty is involved in multiple Disney related projects and charities. He helped save and restore the charming Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago, launched the Dick Van Dyke Foundation, and is the curator of Walt Disney's historic 1930's estate in Hollywood. If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]