My daughter has been asking to visit Downtown Disney since its re-opening on July 9, 2020. While I am hesitant to hang out in places that might draw a large crowd, we decided to spend a couple of hours – Disneyland adjacent – last week. If you’re an Orange County local or even visiting from out of town, you’ll definitely want to keep reading about what to expect at Downtown Disney during Covid. I’m sharing a few tips that might make your time there more fun and less of a headache.
Is Parking Free at Downtown Disney?
Parking in Downtown Disney is currently free (as of September 8, 2020). Yes, FREE! Guests parking is only available in the Simba parking lot which is located south of Paradise Pier Hotel on Disneyland Drive. All other parking lots, structures and hotel parking is closed.
Entry into the Simba parking lot and Downtown Disney is subject to what they are calling a “pause.” This is to limit the number of guests visiting DTD and to promote physical distancing during the Covid pandemic. There are electronic signs to indicate if parking is limited.
How Long Does it Take to Get into Downtown Disney?
If you’re visiting Downtown Disney, you should expect a long line. We were there on a Thursday afternoon around 2pm and didn’t have to wait in any line to enter the Downtown area. However, on our walk out, we noticed the line was very long and almost reached the Simba parking lot. Take note, the first entry point is near the Earl of Sandwich.
You can expect a temperature screening at the first entry point. After that, you’ll make your way to the security screening tent where a Disney Cast Member will safely look through your handbag.
You’re then free to explore Downtown Disney!
Are Masks Required in Downtown Disney?
Yes. Masks are absolutely required for any guest visiting Downtown Disney 2 years old and older.
Cast Members are pretty vigilant about everyone keeping their masks in place. To me, it felt like there were Cast Members strictly on mask patrol during our visit. I saw people posing for photos told to keep their masks on. They aren’t messing around.
Get Disney masks from the official Disney Store!
Expect Lines to Get into Most Retail Stores
This is the one thing I didn’t expect when visiting Downtown Disney. We were met with very long lines to enter most of the popular retail stores. This includes World of Disney, Disney Home, Marceline’s Confectionery, Sephora, Starbucks, and the LEGO Store.
While we saw that there were lines to access the stores, what we didn’t realize was the Downtown Disney Cast Members at each popular store were taking cell phone numbers, then notifying visitors via text that it was now time to line up.
How Long Did it Take to Get into World of Disney?
Unfortunately World of Disney is the most Disneyland experience you can get right now. That being said, it was by far the longest wait.
We gave our phone number to a Cast Member then waited over an hour before we received a text that it was time to line up. Luckily, the line to get into the store moved very quickly but it all depends on the number of people they allow in and out of the store at one time.
I definitely recommend entering the “virtual line” in and then grabbing a bite to eat while you wait to get called into the physical line. Think of it like getting a Fast Pass.
What Restaurants are Open in Downtown Disney?
Restaurant dining is limited at this time. We ate on the patio at Naples Ristorante e Bar. It was actually a nice experience even though the menu is limited.
Here’s a link to the dining options currently available in Downtown Disney.
Cons of Downtown Disney During Covid
Being Disneyland adjacent without being able to experience the park was a real bummer. Especially this time of year when we are missing the changing seasons and Halloween decor at Disneyland. I honestly thought just being in the Downtown area would give us that same Disney feeling but it fell a little short for us.