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What Disneyland Looks Like Now

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California has implemented many changes that may affect your next family vacation, but with these tips, you can plan for your best Disney trip yet.

By Kate Ruddell | Oct 28, 2021, 06:34 AM

While travel can be unpredictable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing remains certain: Disney is still magical. Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California has implemented many changes that may affect your next family vacation, but with the tips below, you can plan for your best Disney trip yet.


Reservations are now required for Disneyland and California Adventure Parks. You must purchase tickets online or via Disney's mobile app ahead of your visit to reserve your spot in both parks. You can purchase the tickets online through the Disney website or through their mobile app. While Disney has not stated how many reservations are allowed per day, several days have already sold out for the year. Ticket and onsite restaurant reservations are currently released 90 days out from the current date. Reservations for sit-down restaurants are highly recommended and fill up quickly. If you are planning a last-minute trip and are still hoping to score a restaurant reservation, you can set up alerts through to be notified when an opening becomes available.

Download the Disney App

The Disney mobile app is a must-have, allowing you to access your tickets and hotel reservations, view attraction wait times and maps of the parks, and check dining availability. Some rides even offer in-app interactive games to play while you wait in line. Make sure to bring an external charger to keep your phone fully charged. If you forget your charger, the parks offer FuelRod stations where you can purchase a fully charged external charger for $30. Then, each time you visit, you can swap out your dead charger for a new one.

Mobile Ordering

If experiencing some of the amazing food options at Disneyland is on your to-do list, you should definitely make reservations for sit-down restaurants ahead of your visit. Some on-site restaurants may offer same-day reservations, but you’ll need to make those in-person at either park. If you’re looking to order quick service food, you’re in luck. Use your Disney app to select a time window for pickup, and then choose your menu items. Pro tip: pre-order your food for the entire day when you arrive at the park. The app will alert you when it’s time to pick up your food, and then a Disney employee (cast member) will confirm your order at the end of a queue. As of October 2021, several restaurants are open for quick-service orders, so be sure to check the app before you visit.

Some of the souvenir shops at the parks are also utilizing mobile orders. This is a great way to purchase Disney items while sticking to a budget without getting distracted by other items.


Masking and Social Distancing

At this time, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure both require masks on indoor rides, including while waiting in line. Employees monitoring the lines will remind you to keep your mask on. If you enjoy the ride photos, be sure to keep it on the entire time. If you remove your mask, you cannot purchase your photo, and you run the risk of being asked to leave the park. Social distancing isn’t strongly enforced while in line or on rides, though there are several hand sanitizer stations located throughout the park.


Virtual Queues

The two newest rides, Webslingers (Disney California Adventure) and Rise of the Resistance (Disneyland), have virtual queues rather than in-person lines. This is partly because of the high demand for the rides, and partly due to COVID restrictions. You can attempt to register for the virtual queue through the Disney app at either 7 am or 12 pm. The app will assign you a boarding group and alert you when it's your turn. In order to register for the 12 pm virtual queue, you must be on park property. The reservations for the queue are typically snapped up within seconds, so be quick!

Parades, Live Entertainment, and Fireworks

Full-scale parades are still on hold for now, but you can occasionally catch 1-2 floats moving throughout the park with characters and music. Live entertainment shows are also paused. The 10-minute firework show used to be nightly but has been reduced to Friday through Sunday. On weeknights (Monday-Thursday), the park does display a projection light show on the castle to cap off your day of magic. Recently, character visits have returned to the parks, but now characters appear behind a barrier of a platform or a fence. Guests are still able to interact with characters and take selfies but can’t get up close unless visiting the Princesses at the Royal Hall.

Have Fun

Go into your trip with patience and flexibility as Disney’s rules and regulations are subject to change at any moment. We know that a family trip to Disney is not only exciting, but also an investment. We highly recommend purchasing a travel protection plan (iTravelInsured) which offers coverage for unexpected accidents, illnesses, or trip interruptions. Most importantly, enjoy your trip. After all, you’re visiting the happiest place on earth.

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