It had been 413 days since Disneyland opened its gates. It had also been 413 days since the My Oh My Planners had seen Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in person.
What a year it has been. Probably the craziest any of us have seen, ever. And to top it all off, we did not have Disneyland as an escape from reality. And there were numerous times when we thought it might open again. From that Downtown Disney tease in July, to rumors spreading on social media that an opening date announcement was coming in October. It was a sad and confusing time, to say the least.
So when the announcement finally came in March that the parks could open on April 1st, our faces lit up like a Christmas tree. It was finally time to go home.
So how did we score opening day tickets, you ask? Long story short: by sheer luck. Like many California Disney fans and legacy passholders, we opened our phones on the early morning of March _ and anxiously waited for the virtual queue to open. Jackie entered the queue before me...and somehow after two hours, I got through to purchase tickets and make reservations first. Apparently the placement of customers in line was random, not by the time in which someone joined the queue. So I bought the tickets. And, by the grace of God, April 30th was still available for Disneyland reservations. It was a no-brainer.
The week leading up to opening day Friday had us more giddy than ever before. We picked out the outfits (ears included, of course), we had the lists of snacks to buy, and our mobile chargers were ready...because of course we were going to take so many pictures and videos that our phones would be dead by noon.
Friday rolled around, and the first thing we did that morning was snag a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. We LOVE the new mobile boarding group process for DL, which is basically the same process as the one used in Hollywood Studios at WDW.
Walking to the parks to actually enter the gates is an entirely different feeling than simply walking to Downtown Disney. For months, we settled for World of Disney shopping trips and the occasional meal at Naples. But this time, we finally would be able to enter those beautiful green gates again.
We arrived 30 minutes after park opening, and were fortunate to not have to wait in any temperature check or security line on the Harbor site entrance. With physical distancing markers practically everywhere on the ground, we knew that Disney was taking guest safety very seriously surrounding the parks’ reopening.
Walking up to open gates was a surreal feeling. This was home, but a home we have not visited in over a year. It was finally time to walk down Main Street again!
Of course, we took a billion pictures and videos upon our arrival. There were cast members with cute Mickey gloves everywhere waving to the guests and saying “Welcome home!” It brought tears to our eyes.
After taking another million pictures in front of the castle, we headed to our first ride, which ended up being Splash Mountain! The wait time was a mere 10 minutes, practically a walk-on. Plus, there was a special surprise...you get your own log! Yep, due to physical distancing, all parties must have their own log.
On that same topic, there were many other COVID-19 safety precautions that we immediately noticed around the park, including:
Physical distancing markers for every attraction and restaurant line
Hand sanitizing stations EVERYWHERE
A brief safety message that plays every 20 minutes throughout the park
Signs with physical distancing and mask reminders nearly every 50 feet
Plexiglass on some of the rides to help with physical distancing
Every party gets their own portion of some ride vehicles, if not the entire vehicle
No waiting in lines indoors; all queues are outside only
We were very impressed with the safety measures Disneyland took to make sure all guests feel extra safe during their visit. Guests were complying with these measures, only taking off their masks when off to the side or sitting to eat.
Our hearts were full walking around the park, taking in all the sights, sounds and of course, SMELLS we had missed. Yes, I’m talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean water. And the popcorn carts.
One of the highlights of the day was riding the new and improved “Snow White and the Enchanted Wish” (updated from Snow White’s Scary Adventures). The Imagineers were hard at work on this attraction during the shutdown, and they did a fantastic job recreating the story of Snow White! With fewer frightening scenes, this ride is sure to delight all Disney fans. That is all we will reveal for now.
After going on our favorite rides (including Space Mountain and Rise of the Resistance), we headed for the snacks! Some of our favorites of the day included:
Celebration churro. Location: churro cart next to Sleeping Beauty’s castle
Parfait. Location: Galactic Grill
Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Krispy treat
Popcorn! A must in Disneyland
Dole Whip Float
A few of our favorite Disney snacks were unavailable on opening day, but have since returned to the parks (including bao and peanut butter and jelly mochi from Tropical Hideaway!)
Now for story time:
The last ride of the day was Haunted Mansion. We had heard there were some new faces added to HM’s family of happy haunts, so we had to see them for ourselves. The issue was, we had just placed a mobile order for dole whip at 6:45, and it was taking a while to be called up to a window. So while Jackie waited for the dole whip, I popped over to get in line for Haunted Mansion, knowing it was going to be the longest line of the day.
6:55 rolls around, still no dole whip. I was worried that Jackie was not going to be able to join me in line. Then, at 6:57, Jackie texts me saying that she got the dole whip! Except…there was no eating in line! So she practically INHALED the freezing cold pineapple treat, and as they were literally closing the gates to the mansion, I see Jackie running and waving her arms so the cast members could see her. I was next to enter the first room, so I told Jackie to FRICKIN HURRY so we could both make it onto the ride.
Fortunately, the cast members saw her, then saw me waving back so they let her inside the gates. It was perfect timing, and a hilarious sight to see a girl with her dole whip sprinting to Haunted Mansion’s closing gates.
So we went on the ride, loved every minute of it, then walked towards Main Street for some shopping and end-of-day treats.
Walking towards the exit at sunset is always a bittersweet feeling. The sounds fill your heart with joy, but the inevitable goodbye brings an inkling of sorrow.
So we turned around on Main Street one last time to say goodbye to the castle, and headed to our actual homes.
We have only been back once since that day (park tickets aren’t cheap after all, especially in summer!) But we look forward to seeing the castle, and Avengers Campus, very soon!