As California theme parks reopen, Disneyland announces reservation system

Apr 6, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

This is the news many Californians have been waiting for: Disneyland plans to open its theme park reservation system on April 12. This is in anticipation of Disneyland throwing its gates open once again on April 30. The catch is, you have to be a California resident to visit any of the state’s theme parks in the first phase of their reopening.

Other California theme parks, such as SeaWorld San Diego, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, have already reopened.

Tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood go on sale April 8 and the park reopens on April 16. (Annual pass holders get a free sneak preview: more details below.)

Knott’s Berry Farm hasn’t set its reopening date yet but says it will be in May.

Opening dates aren’t all up to the theme parks. The county in which they are located must first attain red/substantial tier 2 risk status.

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How to make a Disneyland theme park reservation

Part of Disneyland’s reopening plan included a reservation system. In order to visit a park, you need both a paid ticket and a free reservation — both for the day you wish to visit. You need a reservation whether you’re visiting Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure. This is a requirement for all guests ages 3 and up.

According to Disneyland’s website, “Only California residents may visit the parks, and in groups no larger than three households, in line with current state guidelines.” Here are the particulars about ticket sales and reservations, according to Disneyland.

“The theme park reservation system will launch on April 12, and guests with existing valid theme park tickets can begin making park reservations for the days that their ticket is valid. Theme park ticket sales will resume on April 15, and guests without park tickets may begin purchasing tickets and making park reservations. As a reminder, ticket expiration dates were extended for many outstanding tickets. To accommodate as many types of ticket holders as possible, park reservations for select dates may be made available on a rolling basis. Ticket calendars will be updated on a rolling basis. Check for updated availability.”

Screenshot courtesy of Disneyland

These are the dates to be aware of:

  • April 9: If you have a theme park ticket, you can check available days for your one-day ticket type.
  • April 12: The theme park reservation system will open no earlier than 8 a.m. PT. Guests who already have theme park tickets may begin making park reservations.
  • April 15: Theme park ticket sales will resume no earlier than 8 a.m. PT on April 15, and guests without park tickets may begin purchasing tickets and making park reservations.

If you plan to try to get a reservation to a Disneyland theme park, make sure to log in to your Disney account first and link your valid theme park ticket. The reservation system will need to access that data in order to confirm a reservation on a particular date.

Universal annual pass members get a special preview day

Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

While Universal CityWalk, the dining and shopping complex, and Universal Cinema are now open, it won’t be until April 16 that you can walk through the gates of Universal Studios Hollywood.

However, if you are an annual Pass Member, there’s a special preview day just for you on April 15. Additionally, there will be complimentary Bonus Days from Thursday, April 15 through Sunday, May 16. You can reserve these special days online as of Monday, April 5. Pass Members can return to using their passes as usual on Monday, May 17.

If you aren’t a pass holder but have a regular ticket purchased before April 8, 2021, you can make online reservations to visit the park as of April 5.

Whether you have an annual pass or not, you must be a California resident to visit Universal Studios Hollywood when it reopens. Non-pass holders can buy tickets and make a theme park reservation beginning April 8.

The group you travel with is limited to three households and a total of 10 people.

Universal says that most rides will be running as of April 16, but select shows and attractions will reopen later in order to fully comply with the state government restrictions.

Visitors will be required to undergo temperature checks and wear face masks. You’ll be asked to be mindful of social distance and Universal will offer contactless payment and “no-touch” options whenever possible throughout the park.

You can buy Universal Studios Hollywood tickets and make park reservations here on the dates noted above.

What will be different at the theme parks?

Six Flags Magic Mountain Twisted Colossus rollercoaster ride
The Twisted Colossus ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain has twists, loops and turns galore. (Photo courtesy of Six Flags Magic Mountain)

For all parks, capacity will be limited to comply with governmental requirements and promote physical distancing, and advance reservations are required for guests ages 3 and up.

Note that, until further notice, tickets are only available to California residents. The buyer’s location will be verified by a new reservation system that uses GPS data to track purchases.
(The system also allows for contact tracing should there be a COVID-19 outbreak tied to a park.)

Bottom line

We have reason to be hopeful. Cases in Los Angeles County, the most populous in the state and home to several of the state’s high-traffic parks, have been on a downward trend since peaking in January. With the three highly effective vaccines and aggressive efforts to vaccinate the state’s most vulnerable communities (many of whom keep the state’s tourism running), it’s safe to assume we could be touring a theme park this spring, summer or fall.

Featured image by Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

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