Other than hugging my friends and family, there are few things I’ve missed more during the COVID-19 pandemic than visiting Disneyland. I was born and raised in California, which means I’ve been an annual passholder and made going to the parks a personality trait.
Disneyland closing for a full year is a huge deal. It’s never been done before. As California upped its vaccine distribution and COVID-19 positivity rates became the lowest in the country, we finally got the word that the parks could reopen at the end of April. Listen, I know this pandemic is much bigger than an amusement park closing, but hearing this news is a big serotonin boost. It feels like we are slowly but surely on our way to normalcy.
Things aren’t going back to normal completely. Disneyland and California Adventure will operate at limited capacity to California residents only, with shorter hours, and some ride closures. Astro Blasters and The Jungle Cruise will be closed for refurbishment.
The biggest change will be the reservation system. Gone are the days of buying a ticket at the gate and spending the day in the parks. Disneyland will require a reservation with your ticket purchase to ensure they are operating at a safe capacity. Starting on April 15th, you can try to snag a reservation via the Disneyland website. I will be one of those Disney nerds trying to land my spot as part of the first group back. To get us all excited about our hopeful returns to the park, I’m going to tell you the top ten things I am looking forward to doing once I’m back at the Happiest Place on Earth.
10) Take in the scent of the Pirates of the Caribbean Water
If you know, you know. Some people think Pirates of the Caribbean is a boring ride. It kind of drags on, but it’s a classic and a must-ride for me every time I visit. What makes this ride truly remarkable is the scent of the water. I don’t know what it is, just that it is certainly chemical. There is almost a cult-like love for this scent. Some companies have made candles or car scents that attempt to mimic the fragrance, but nothing beats the real thing. Oh how i’ve missed you, chemical smell. (Editor’s note: For more water info, check out this video!)
9) Go to hell
If you’ve never visited Disneyland before, or simply pass over Fantasyland, you may think I’m speaking nonsense right now. This is the happiest place in the world, what do you mean go to hell? Fantasyland features several rides deemed for children, but these rides have an interesting history. Back in the 20s and 30s, carnival rides were mostly designed to scare people. You’d go through some creepy doorways in a little car and kids would cry. Disneyland still has several of these rides in operation and my favorite is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. At the end of the ride, you end up in hell with a bunch of little devils and a heater blasting on you to really give the full effect. It’s a great time.
8) Aimlessly walk around Main Street USA
As someone who loves Disneyland but hates crowds of people, Main Street USA typically fills me with anxiety. When Disneyland reopens, the capacity cuts will make the likelihood of huge crowds of families, lost children, and drunk stroller drivers less of an issue. I’m going to take my time walking this street for once and hopefully get a break from strollers hitting my ankles while doing so.
7) See some cats
Disneyland has some pretty cute employees you may not know about. The entire Disney property is the home to hundred of feral cats, and on purpose! These furry cast members do the ever important job of keeping the grounds rodent free. Most of them are scared of people, but you might get lucky to stumble upon some of the friendlier ones. California Adventure is home to a sassy tortie who will let you pet her and the Disneyland hotel has a friendly black cat you can win over easily!
6) Lock eyes with the goat
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the most fun rides on Disneyland property. This rollercoaster genuinely makes me feel like a kid again every time I ride it. The best part of the ride is when you slowly approach the goat at the top of the mountain. If you keep your eyes locked on that goat while you speed down the mountain it’s believed to make the ride feel faster. Regardless, I like looking at the goat because he is very cute.
5) Get a Mickey-shaped pretzel
Do you remember that Facebook post that went viral a few years ago regarding a Mickey-shaped pretzel? Someone took to the internet to air their frustrations with the childless millennial who bought the last Mickey pretzels before their precious child could get their hands on it. I am determined to be that childless person when Disneyland reopens. I will simply steal one from a child if I have to.
4) Pick up a hitch hiker
The Haunted Mansion is a fan favorite when it comes to Disneyland attractions. It’s a real feel-good ride for me and so many others. What is not to love about the songs, the friendly haunts, and the peaceful ride through a mansion. I think this might be the first ride I hit when I get back in the park. I will happily take home one of the hitchhiking ghosts!
3) Go shopping
Do I need a sweatshirt that costs over $50 dollars? What about an enamel pin that is $20 dollars? Absolutely not. Am I going to buy both of those things along with several other pointless items? I sure am. Why? Because it’s Disneyland. They get me every time.
2) Ride the train
Riding the train through the park is an underrated experience, in my opinion. This is coming from someone who did not ride the train until a few years ago. This isn’t any old train ride. The Disneyland train takes you through various attractions, even passing through Splash Mountain. You get to see all the characters of the attraction dancing around from the dry train car
1) Eat a pickle
Some may find this controversial, but I stand by my choice. Eating a pickle in Disneyland is a sacred ritual. There are few things in this world that bring me inner peace the way chomping on a spicy pickle in Adventureland does. Disneyland pickles are the best in the world.
What do you think of my list? Are you going to try to snag tickets to the park next week? If so, how many of these things do you plan to do? Let us know in the comments below!