Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District reopened on July 9th! Those of us who call Disneyland home finally have a chance to spend some time at the place we call home. While Disneyland and California Adventure parks are still closed, the outdoor shopping mall is back in business. But it is not business as usual.
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Arriving at Downtown Disney District
Word of warning to anyone driving a far distance from Anaheim. Disneyland has only opened ONE parking lot. It is the Simba lot which is located on the south side of the Paradise Pier Hotel. This lot is small and often fills up fast. Entrance to this lot is paused throughout the day, in an effort to control crowds.
The lot closes whenever the number of people in the downtown area reaches capacity. There is currently no parking fee for using this lot. Guests parking here will enter the park from the west side entrance across from the Disneyland Hotel.
The other options are to stay nearby and either walk over to or be dropped off at the east side entrance.
All guests ages 2 and up must wear a face mask. They may be removed to eat and drink, both of which should be done off to the side of walkway traffic and socially distanced from others or while seated on a bench or in a dining area. Your mask must be on your face before arriving at the temperature screening tent.
Practice social distancing by leaving at least 6ft of distance between you and other guests when possible. Disney has placed markers on benches and the ground for outdoor and indoor queues to help you.
New Safety Measures
Upon arriving at either entrance guests and their parties are guided to one of several stalls where everyone will have their temperature taken with a touch-less thermometer. Your party must remain together and be wearing their face masks before reaching this point.
Step two is walking passed the bomb sniffing dogs who now have their own tent.
Last but not least is the bag check and metal detectors.
Depending on the number of people in the Downtown Disney District a virtual queue may be used. When in use guests must obtain their virtual placeholder from a designated cast member for each Disney store they want to shop at.
For example, we requested our virtual queue for World of Disney across from the east end entrance and on the other side of the fountain. After receiving out text notifying us to check in with a cast member we were placed in an outdoor physical queue. The outdoor queue had markers to help guests practice a safe social distance from each other.
Once inside the store, you are asked to be aware of your space and others. We had no problem keeping a safe distance during our shopping trip. So far it seems that opening day was the only time that things were a bit out of control, but it is safe to say Disney has learned from its opening day jitters.
We were a bit worried when we visited on July 17th, Disneyland’s 65th birthday, but there was nothing to stress about. Virtual queues were utilized for World of Disney, WonderGround, Disney Home, and Marceline’s Confectionery.
Keep in mind that the Downtown Disney District is only in a modified phase of reopening. Due to a statewide step backward, indoor dining is currently prohibited. Visit Disneyland’s official site to find out which restaurants are open before visiting. Restaurants that are open either have their own outdoor dining area or have outdoor seating nearby.
We ordered our lunch from Earl of Sandwich. Instead of dining in their small patio area we chose to eat our meal in the area set up next door between them and Starbucks.
As mentioned above, do not eat and drink while walking throughout the district. Step off to the side, sit on a bench, or find a table. Relax and enjoy your time. It’s not like you have to multitask in order to get from Space Mountain to Rise of the Resistance before your boarding time expires!
Downtown Disney District Photo Opportunities
Your visit will be a little different than in the past. Currently there are no special decorations throughout the district like their typically is. With that said, there are still some great photo opportunities.
The first and best is on the west end. The exterior of what was once the ESPN Zone building dons an anniversary mural and other fun images of Mickey and his pals.
The esplanade still has our favorite Disney flags flying and you can take your picture in front of California Adventure or Disneyland. However, trying to get a picture with Disneyland’s Mickey floral display is not an easy task as the area in front of the gates for this park is roped off. You can, however, walk right up to the gates of California Adventure.