Downtown Disney During COVID-19

Updated September 9, 2020

Note: The new “Reserved Shopping” opportunity only applies to the ESPN Zone location. You do not need an advanced reservation to shop or dine elsewhere in Downtown Disney.

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 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 (or 9:00pm on weekends)
  • Parking is at the Simba Lot only. And, it’s free!
  • 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.

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.

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

I’ve only seen the virtual queue used for World of Disney so far. To find out if they’re using this option, locate a cast member under the tan umbrellas near the fountain across from the east entrance of World of Disney. (The one closer to La Brea.) Sometimes the tan umbrellas are set up closer to where the tram arrives. Cast members will be in the area to direct you.

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

Virtual queues are easy. You provide your phone number to a cast member 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 like:

Reserved Shopping

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:

Don’t miss this cute photo op on your way out:

A few notes:

  • You may buy up to 2 qty of each pin.
  • You may buy an unlimited amount of holiday sippers.
  • 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 is free of charge currently and 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.

My Recommended Itinerary

Seems silly that you might need a strategy for your day at Downtown Disney.

But, some guests will be driving in for the day and don’t want to miss anything. So, I’ve created a plan.

An ideal schedule for your day includes:

  • Arrive at opening and grab a coffee at Starbucks.
  • Enter the virtual queue for World of Disney.
  • 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.
  • 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 three 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.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. 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*

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