Downtown Disney During COVID-19

Updated November 24, 2020

Note: The Disneyland app is better than ever! Check out some details on how to use it, below.

Note: Weekends have been busy lately. Arrive early to avoid being turned away at the parking lot.

If you are missing the parks and want to reconnect a bit with the magic, consider spending a day in Downtown Disney.

Hearing the music, seeing cast members, shopping, dining and grabbing a treat at Marceline’s Confectionery *might* help a bit while we wait for more information on the parks.

Downtown Disney (along with the Buena Vista Street extension) is the only part of the Disneyland Resort currently open to guests. Parks and Disney Resorts remain closed.

Bookmark this post to stay updated with information on Disneyland’s reopening. Peek at how Walt Disney World handled their reopening, too, in that post. Our protocol should be similar.

When our beloved Disneyland prepares to reopen, I’ll have everything you need to know.

Basic Info

  • Downtown Disney is open 10:00am – 8:00pm. Note: Beginning November 27, 2020, Downtown Disney will be open from 9:00am to 9:00pm.
  • Parking is at the Simba Lot only. It costs $10 a day. Annual passes with parking privileges will not suffice. Every car requires a $10 payment, regardless of whether you stay for an hour or all day.
  • Temperature scans are required for entry. If you or any person in your party scan at 100.4 degrees or higher, your entire party will be refused entry.
  • Face coverings are required for guests age 2 and up.
  • Most shops and restaurants have reopened at this point. Only a few remain closed.
  • Weekends are much busier than weekdays. Try to visit on a weekday if possible. Arrive before opening each day to ensure you are able to get in. Capacity restrictions are keeping crowds low, so guests will be turned away once enough people are inside.

The Disneyland App

The free Disneyland app is an essential tool for your visit to Downtown, as you’ll use it throughout your day.

Before arriving, be sure to:

  • Have the latest version of the app installed
  • Have location services enabled
  • Have notifications on

Continue to check both @Disneyland and @DisneyParksBlog on Facebook and Instagram for official updates.

What You Can Expect When You Enter Downtown Disney

Here’s a walk through of what it looks like to enter the Disneyland Resort right now.

First, begin with a temperature scan. If you register at 100.4° or higher, you and your entire party will not be allowed to go in.

Start here:

Temperature scan:

Security check is next. Walk through this tent with your bag off your shoulder so the dog can respond to what you’re bringing in if needed:

Bag check is next:

After your bag is cleared, you’re in!

Note: These photos were taken from the Harbor side entrance. A similar set up can be found at the west end of Downtown Disney, near the Disneyland Hotel.

Dining

I highly recommend making a dining reservation for your visit. This will allow you to sit down for a while and remove your mask.

With limited tables at each location (outdoor only), don’t count on walking up and putting your name down to wait for a table. Secure a time and place before you arrive.

To make a reservation, first check the Disneyland app here.

If what you’re looking for isn’t available there, try OpenTable.com.

New: Jazz Kitchen Express now offers mobile ordering! Find that option here.

***If you have a dining reservation and arrive at the Simba lot to find it at capacity, show a cast member on duty your dining confirmation. He or she will then work you into the lot to park.

Shopping

Most shops allow you to walk in and browse.

As crowds dictate, the following (and more as needed) will provide a virtual queue and/or structured lines with tape marking 6 feet between parties:

  • World of Disney
  • The Disney Dress Shop
  • Marceline’s Confectionery
  • Disney Home
  • Backlot Premiere Shop in Stage 17 of Disney California Adventure
  • Buena Vista Street

If the virtual queue is not in use, you’ll be directed where to go to wait your turn to enter.

Some virtual lines include a sign noting that you can enter the virtual queue on your own.

You’ll find a sign like this:

*Pic by California Disney Bliss on Instagram

Virtual queues are easy. Provide your phone number, and they text you when it’s your time to shop. Return times will vary, depending on crowds.

When you use the virtual queue, your texts will look something like this:

Reserved Shopping at the Former ESPN Zone

A new shopping experience started August 31, 2020 at the former ESPN Zone location. I’ve shared a step by step guide detailing what you need to know about reserving this option here.

I learned about this new experience just by luck. I happen to see the Disneyland Annual Passholder Facebook page announce it and acted quickly. Spots went super quickly, as capacity is limited.

The Disney Parks Blog Facebook page typically shares such events, but I didn’t see it mentioned there. Be sure to follow both for good info. Check this link, direct from Disney, occasionally for news on future reserved shopping events like this, too.

I had no idea what to expect, but I was all, “SIGN ME UP” before I could process what was happening. Since this is my job, I can pretty much rationalize any expense on Disney property, so off I went!

Let’s see what this is all about.

The old ESPN Zone building is located at the west end of Downtown Disney. Enter through the door to the far right, facing the parking lot.

This is what you’re looking for:

Arrive approximately 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time and have an ID ready. A cast member will confirm your identity before you enter.

I was a little late, showing up at 11:55am for a noon reservation. Cast members were outside directing guests on where to go and how it all works.

I jumped in line and waited.

Guests are social distanced while waiting.

Almost there!

When I arrived at the door, it was 12:25pm. So, I waited about 30 minutes to go in.

Upon entering, I was assigned to a cast member who showed me where I could shop and what was available.

Here’s what you see when you walk in:

Every guest (or group) will shop independently at a table. Each table is well beyond 6 feet from the next.

Here’s what my table looked like:

Danielle, the cast member behind my table, shared what was for sale.

Today, there was a selection of pins and a holiday sipper. If you purchased a pin or sipper, you became eligible for the promotional item, which was the cute Halloween tote I shared about here.

On the table, I found….

Options for pins ($17.99 each):

Here are the pins:

The holiday sipper ($17.49):

And the Halloween tote ($19.99 with any purchase):

Easy peasy!

Exit here and continue on with your day:

A few notes:

  • Merchandise will change with each Reserved Shopping opportunity.
  • Technically, each guest wanting to enter the shop should have a reservation. When you arrive, let the cast member if you have a guest with you under the age of 18. He or she should allow the child to shop with you.
  • When you make your reservation, you’ll include a credit card number just as you would with a dining reservation. And, just like a dining reservation, if you don’t show up for your time, you’ll be charged $10 per guest on the reservation.
  • Parking at Downtown Disney costs $10 and is only available in the Simba Lot. If the lot is full when you arrive, show your reservation number to a cast member when you drive up and he or she will try to work you into the lot.
  • Annual Passholder discounts apply.
  • The event was super organized. And, today was the first day! Well done, Disney.

Questions? Let me know in the comments. I’ll do my best to find the info you’re looking for if I don’t already have it.

Disneyland Backlot Premiere Shop

To learn more about the Backlot Shop located at Stage 17 inside Disney California Adventure, click Disney’s link here.

Essentially, this shop is an extension on what is offered at World of Disney in Downtown Disney.

You’ve likely been inside Stage 17 before. We met Olaf there after “sledding” on an icy hill during Frozen Fun in 2015. It has hosted the Celebrate Gospel event. Lots of characters have come and gone over the years. This building is a flex space used for a large variety of events.

Located in Hollywood Land inside Disney California Adventure, you’ll find Stage 17 to the left of the Monster’s, Inc. attraction.

You enter this shopping destination from the back of the building. So, while DCA is literally behind a rather impressive barrier and then the actual doors, you can’t see inside the park.

I know. I KNOW.

The Backlot Shop is at the east end of Downtown Disney. I always love throwing out “East” and “West” like I could ever find anything with that information alone.

Truth be told, I really only knew where I was while living in Denver, Colorado for three years. Those Rocky Mountains are not only beautiful, but a solid indication of “West”.

(In case you are like me, “East” is at the end closest to Harbor Blvd.)

A standby line is available most days. As crowds dictate, a virtual queue will be added.

From Harbor, you’ll see this sign as you approach the esplanade.

Take a left and follow the subsequent signs.

There are several cast members along the path that leads to Stage 17. They’ll guide you.

There it is! Stage 17.

Here we go.

Halloween 2020

Halloween is being celebrated around Downtown Disney with many stores offering Halloween apparel, treats and more.

This post shares what’s available at World of Disney, the largest souvenir shop at the Disneyland Resort.

Holidays 2020

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort is being celebrated throughout Downtown Disney and on Buena Vista Street inside Disney California Adventure.

Check out this post for everything you need to know about what’s open on and around Buena Vista Street as well as cost, when to arrive, what to do first, etc.

This link shares lots of photos of 2020 holiday merchandise.

For the ideal holiday themed visit to Anaheim during 2020, consider my suggestions here.

My Recommended Itinerary

Seems silly that you might need a strategy for your day at Downtown Disney, right?

(2020, man. Anything can happen.)

Some guests will be driving in for the day – or longer – and don’t want to miss anything.

So, I’ve created a plan.

An ideal schedule for your day includes:

  • Arrive around 30 minutes prior to opening.
  • Immediately check out Buena Vista Street inside Disney California Adventure. Enter if the wait isn’t too bad and a virtual queue is not currently in use. Go immediately to Carthay Circle if you wish to dine there. This link goes into more detail about how to make the most out of your time “in the park”.
  • Enter the virtual queue for World of Disney and/or the Backlot Premiere Shop in Stage 17 if they’re in use. If not? Go on in and shop. If you’re interested in candy and treats, use the virtual queue for Marceline’s Confectionery. Aside from Buena Vista Street…World of Disney, the Backlot Premiere Shop, and Marceline’s are the three most popular destinations, so grab your spot in their queues early in the day. If you pass by another store you want to visit and a virtual queue is in place, do the same. “Virtual Queues” are the closest thing to FASTPASSES right now. And, there are no limits to how many you may join.
  • While waiting to shop, take a stroll into the esplanade to peek at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Don’t forget the shoe photo like mine, below!
  • Return to shop at World of Disney, the Premiere Backlot Shop, etc, etc when you receive a text noting it’s time.
  • Enjoy a lazy lunch. (I make my reservations for 2:00pm when I visit.)
  • Wander for the rest of your day.

Links

  • For more information on visiting Downtown Disney – from Disney – click here.
  • To review face covering/mask requirements, as well as compare several options that I tested in Orlando during Walt Disney World’s reopening, visit this post.
  • This link shares lots more photos from several recent visits to Downtown Disney.

Notes

  • Please consider tipping above 20% if your budget allows. Many cast members have been out of work for 4+ months. They’re working harder than ever to provide good service during this complicated time.
  • While dining, be sure to put your mask on before leaving the table for any reason. I’ve made this mistake twice now since dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It’s easy to do! Help others at your table remember, too.
  • Stay updated on Disneyland’s reopening at this link.
Take a look at how Get Away Today can help with your vacation

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Casey! Do you have any advice or strategies for mid-day or evening DTD excursions? If you aren’t able to show up at opening, and/or perhaps have a dinner reservation? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Lauren.

      Definitely make a reservation. If parking is full when you arrive, the cast member will help fit you in the lot if you have your dining confirmation.

      I’ll be there this week with more info!

  2. Thank you for the strategy and info on where to park; I will be traveling from out of state. First time to this site, I found you through Google! You are bookmarked now!

  3. Excellent article, wish I could be there to shop. Reading your posts make me feel like I am visiting. I’m too far away to travel there ( Italy ) and can’t currently get into the USA.. so next time I can go to Disney will be a trip to Paris, planing as soon as most everything is opened again. I can travel to ?? France ??. Thank you again! *o*

LEAVE A REPLY