Safer at Home Order Journal #14

Dear Kids,

It’s been over a year since the pandemic started and, for the first time, our county is finally in the least restrictive tier (yellow). It took a long time to get here, but, after vaccinations started in earnest here, we started going down from the most restrictive to the least in a matter of months.

For us, that’s meant a trip to Disneyland! I debated about whether to write about our day there, but, since the park itself does change over time, it might be interesting to see how a Disneyland during the pandemic is different from pre-pandemic and how it might change when you have kids (maybe?).

Kids, it took me 7.5 hours to get tickets and reservations when it opened up in mid-April. Of course both of you and Dad were eager for me to get both the day it opened. So, you’re welcome. I picked the first Saturday that was available: the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

Disneyland was only open from 9am to 7pm, but, as we quickly found out, all that was quite flexible. For the first time ever, we arrived at the parking structure before it even opened! I thought I’d seen a sign saying it opened at 7:45, but wasn’t sure until we were in line and no one was moving. We still had about 10 more minutes to wait. After that, it was quick. We parked the closest we’ve ever parked to the elevator, go both of you out, and headed for temperature checks and security. Then it was a long, long, long, boring walk along the tram route.

But we finally arrived. We walked right through Main Street. Only once before have we arrived before the park opened and got to wait along Main Street. I expected it, but, I suppose they don’t want the crowd, we walked right into Tomorrowland where rides were already being boarded. Getting to go on rides before the 9am opening time? Definitely a first!

It was quiet kids. There were times, early on, right around 9, that I looked around and barely saw another person. Capacity is currently capped at 25% and only California residents are allowed it, so it was probably closer to 11am when we really noticed a lot of people. Still, there was plenty of room to maneuver around in, which was nice.

One thing we did notice was that the rides seemed a lot louder than usual. Brother spent a lot of them sitting with his hands over his ears, and Sister sat with her hands fisted in her lap so she wouldn’t touch anything. Both of your were so good and so disciplined and always made sure to put your hands out for hand sanitizer after coming off every single ride, ever single time. Dad and I are so proud of you!

Anyways, we’re still debating whether the rides were louder because we’re used to a louder crowd, so it sounded louder. Or if they intentionally made it louder, maybe to mask the decreased crowd?

But it was nice to see that just about everything looked like it got a fresh coat of paint. Everything seemed a lot brighter and a lot less chipped and scraped. We also noticed some of the rides moved a lot faster, which makes sense because no ride could be indoors for more than 15 minutes. It also meant all queuing for rides was done outside and getting inside basically meant it was a walk onto the ride kind of experience. At least the lines moved quickly because it was hot in the early to mid-afternoon. There was also hand sanitizer available at every ride exit. I definitely noticed virtually everyone always wearing a mask except for while eating, but not everyone using hand sanitizer after each ride.

It was strange sometimes to look around and actually notice open space. But, at the same time, it didn’t actually feel too different from another other trip we’ve taken to Disneyland. Some of the rides had been changed (definitely a big one was Snow White’s Scary Adventure turning into Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. I haven’t been on the former since I was a little girl, probably over 20 years ago now, so this was a first for all of us. I can’t say any of us were impressed. Only Dumbo and the Mad Tea Party had the honor of being asked for again), but it otherwise didn’t feel any different. It was like walking back in after not 1 year and 10 months since our last visit, but maybe our usual 6-9 months between visits.

Of course, things were a bit different. Mobile ordering for food proved to be simple and easy and there was plenty of popcorn and churros and ducks waiting to be fed. We did wipe down tables and chairs before either of you came out of the stroller. Neither of you were allowed to walk around the park and had to stay in the stroller unless we were waiting in line or eating. Hand sanitizer was a must after you touched anything. The rides that are usually a free for all ended up being highly organized with cast members telling us exactly where to sit or which row to be in, in a very efficient and organized manner. It was kind of amusing when we were in line for some rides and they seemed to have run out of signs for the ground reading Please Wait Here because we saw some black strips of tape and neon crosses instead. It was really nice to not feel crowded up against when waiting in line! That’s one thing I’m no looking forward to when the pandemic ends.

Whether during a pandemic or not, both of you had so much fun. You were so excited to go again. Some of our favorite rides were closed either because it was impossible to do social distancing or was undergoing it’s annual refurbishment, but we did manage to go on everything you wanted to go, a couple of them more than once. We got to sit and enjoy our meals and snacks. Overall, it felt a lot more relaxed and low-key than any other visit we’ve made. The crowd was thinned. The lines were long, but fast-moving. The longest wait we had was probably for Casey Jr.

Leaving the park wasn’t fun, but the 7pm closing time really meant everyone had to migrate to Main Street, which closed around 8. I can’t really say for sure because we were walking out of the park shortly after 7pm to walk back along the really long, really boring tram route. Fortunately, waiting for the elevator was quick considering only one group could go at a time, and we were parked 3 rows from the elevator.

All in all, I think we’re glad to be getting back into something as close to normal as we’re going to get right now. This was out first real normal outing, and both of you did so incredibly well putting and keeping on your masks. I’m going to keep hoping our county continues to do well, and maybe we can look forward to seeing Nana and Papa and you’ll get to hug them and not have to wear a mask.

For now, we’re sticking with distance learning, Dad is keeping his hybrid schedule, and we’re limiting how much we go out. But it was fun getting to go to Disneyland again. It’s still magical for both of you, though I’m still waiting for my arms to magically feel better after lifting a heavy little girl through most of all the ride lines.

Love, Mom

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