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What it's like visiting Disney during a pandemic

Virus Outbreak California Disneyland
Posted at 3:20 PM, Mar 15, 2021

The most magical place on Earth will soon be filled with life again. Disneyland is set to re-open sometime in April, after California issued new guidance on theme parks earlier this month. Under these new rules, counties in the "red tier" can reopen theme parks in California.

However, Disney CEO Bob Chapek says it could take some time to reopen the parks because they will have to recall the 10,000 workers who had to be furloughed when the park was closed. All employees will also have to undergo new training on operational procedures that have changed during the pandemic.

The news is welcomed by die-hard Disney fans.

Among them, lifestyle and travel blogger of "World in Four Days," Courtney Blacher. She tells ABC15 she has been a dedicated Disney pass-holder since her daughter was born 11 years ago.

The reality of the pandemic did not hit her until Disney, for the first time in history, decided to shut down during the pandemic.

"I was shocked, and honestly for me that was kind of like, this is real because Disney closes for nothing," said Blacher.

News of the gradual reopening brings hope, as Blacher says it shows things are on the upswing, but she says visitors should be prepared for major changes when they visit the park, due to health and safety guidelines set forth by the CDC being strictly enforced on park grounds.

"They've been responsible, I feel like throughout all of this. They closed when they needed to close and they're reopening when they feel like they can safely do so," said Blacher.

While Disneyland's reopening date is coming soon, Disney World in Florida has remained open through much of the pandemic.

The Cosman family from Peoria recently visited the Florida theme park and are offering a sneak peek into what future visitors to Disneyland can expect.

"First of all, you have to make reservations. You can't just walk up to the gate and get right in," said Tamie Cosman a blogger with "Phoenix with Kids."

"They take your temperature before you even go through security," she added.

Cosman said park employees were also strictly enforcing mask mandates, for anyone above the age of 2.

"They were very stern, mostly with having the nose covered. A lot of people would have their mask below their nose and it was immediately taken care of. Even the maintenance staff were going around telling people, 'please cover your nose, please cover your nose,'" said Cosman.

While she did not see park employees sanitizing rides, Cosman said staff were giving out hand sanitizer to park visitors before they boarded a ride and when they got off. She saw hand sanitizer stations throughout the park, along with employees out there cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

Everything has to be done digitally through the Disney app, according to Cosman, including ordering food from park restaurants.

Character meet-and-greets and autographs were not taking place when Cosman visited Disney World; instead, they saw characters driving through the parks.

The fireworks show and parade had also been canceled, and the Fast Pass was not available for use.

"It was still fun, it was still magical. It felt good to be doing something normal," said Cosman.

California state officials say park capacity will be based on COVID-19 numbers in Orange County in April.

Disneyland is offering other unique experiences for visitors in the downtown Disney district and California Adventure theme park. You can learn more about those experiences here.