It’s unlikely Disneyland Resort—the original Disney destination—will reopen like Walt Disney World in 2020. SoCal has jumped back into the Purple tier amid an unprecedented surge of new COVID-19 cases. And in this tier, theme parks of Disney’s size are not allowed to open. But Mickey found a loophole. Disneyland Park is still closed. And, technically, Disney’s California Adventure Park is closed, too. However, there is one way to get in, and you don’t even have to pay for theme park admission. The catch? It’s not the whole park, but this is a very rare chance to stretch your legs down the iconic Buena Vista Street for free.
As of November 19, Disneyland has extended its outdoor shopping center, Downtown Disney, to Buena Vista Street, Carthay Circle, and a portion of Hollywood Boulevard for select shopping and dining. Translation: The front section of Disney California Adventure is open! Though Disney is quick to say the park remains closed, technically you can now step foot on hallowed park ground and experience life on the other side of the turnstiles—which fans haven’t seen since March. It’s a clever way to get around California’s current restrictions and offer guests some holiday cheer as Buena Vista Street will be decked out with its traditional Christmas garlands and decor. Without opening attractions or featuring entertainment, this reimagined Buena Vista Street is just another outdoor mall and therefore falls into a different category for California’s pandemic rules.
So, what does a ride-less, show-less theme park look like? If you love to shop, you probably won’t notice a difference. Iconic stores such as Elias & Co., Julius Katz & Sons, and the Kingswell Camera Shop will all be open with apparel (though dressing rooms won’t be available), pins, Minnie ears, and tons of new holiday merch for sale. If a day at Disney is not complete without a themed-snack, you can get all the churro-flavored toffee and other confections at Trolley Treats. For bigger bites, Award Wieners is returning with iconic corn dogs. And Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe will reopen so you can enjoy official Starbucks inside the park. For a meal, dining will be available at Smokejumpers Grill. Mobile order via the Disneyland Park app is highly encouraged for this quick-service spot. For table service, the park’s marquee fine dining Carthay Circle has been tweaked for the pandemic and modified as Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining. The menu and the cocktails are still the most impressive out of any restaurants open on the property, but if you haven’t visited Disneyland this year, note the new rule that “an alcoholic beverage may only be purchased in conjunction with an adult meal.”
Like the rest of Downtown Disney, masks (ages two and up) and social distancing will be enforced along Buena Vista Street. Parking is available in the Simba lot for $10. Keep in mind that capacity will be limited. Disney hasn’t released a specific number, but according to the resort website, a mobile waitlist system may be used to “manage the number of guests when the location and/or queue are at capacity.” Like a restaurant reservation, guests will receive a text message when they’re able to return.