In a sure sign that life is slowly returning to what used to be normal, Disneyland and California Adventure parks will be reopening on April 30, 2021. This is a huge for Anaheim and Orange County, as the parks’ closure over the past year has cost the Disney company an estimated 2.4 billion dollars in lost revenue as of October 2020 according to the OC Register. A Cal State Fullerton study found that the Disney parks contribute 8.5 billion to the Southern California economy, with 3.6 percent of OC jobs being at the Disneyland Resort. Needless to say, the extended closure has been a huge blow to So Cal’s tourism industry, as well as a source of sadness to So Cal students who had been looking forward to Disney Performing Arts field trips and days full of fun at either of the popular Disney parks.
Meanwhile, Downtown Disney, the outdoor shopping area with shopping and restaurants has been open since summer 2020. The shopping areas at California Adventure, including Elias and Co, my favorite stop for Disney-themed Pandora jewelry and Dooney and Bourke handbags featuring my favorite characters, have been opened in limited capacity since the holiday shopping season. We visited at the end of January, and while it wasn’t the same as what we were once used to, it was still nice to be back at the almost-happiest place on Earth.
We made the trek down to Anaheim on a popular Sunday evening. It was $10 to park in the Simba parking lot, and from there a short walk to get in line to go through the health screening to enter the Downtown Disney area. Though it was an estimated hour wait to enter, the line moved relatively quickly, and there were plenty of Pokemon to catch as we waited in line.
Soon enough we completed the health screening and security check. We walked through Downtown Disney and to the empty ticketing area separating the two Disney parks. This was an odd experience for me. As a former annual pass holder, I’ve visited Disneyland at almost all hours of opening, including the super early morning when Emily and I ran in a RunDisney race a few years ago. I have never seen the park so dark and empty. It was sad, and to think of the impacts to families, especially considering the job losses throughout the past year, compounded the reality that life wouldn’t be the same pre-Covid for a long while. Still we walked on and into California Adventure for some shopping and a treat.
We spent a couple hours walking around, stopping at our favorite shops. Sami was disappointed that more of the park wasn’t open. A cupcake and candied apple from Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical helped to bring back some of the old Disney magic feeling. As did buying a bow for our well-loved rabbit.
In all it was a fun experience. We are learning to be thankful for those times that we do have, appreciating both what used to be as well as what is. Still, I am looking forward to eventually being able to return to Disneyland and enjoy a day of school or family fun, even if we have to wear masks and socially distance.
For more information, including park restrictions, ticketing, and operating hours, visit disneyland.disney.go.com.
MacDonald, B. (2020, October 16). Disneyland resort Faces $2 billion revenue loss During coronavirus CLOSURE, analyst warns. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.ocregister.com/2020/10/15/disneyland-resort-faces-2-billion-revenue-loss-during-coronavirus-closure-analyst-warns/
Study by Cal State fullerton Economists Shows Disneyland Resort creates $8.5 billion economic impact in Southern California. (2019, September 17). Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.newswise.com/articles/study-by-cal-state-fullerton-economists-shows-disneyland-resort-creates-8-5-billion-economic-impact-in-southern-california