ANAHEIM (CBSLA) – For the first time since March of 2020, Disneyland has reopened its theme parks.
Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park opened their gates to thousands of thrilled guests at 9 a.m. Friday. Many couldn't hold back their tears. Some people got in line as early as 2:30 a.m.
"My heart is racing, it's so amazing to see everybody back," one woman told CBSLA upon entering the park.
"I love just being here, the atmosphere, the crowd, people are just happy," a man added.
With the downtime of the year-long closure, the King Arthur Carrousel was refurbished, and Snow White's Enchanted Wish ride got a facelift.
"I think it's definitely the cast members are a huge part of that magic, they're so happy and you can tell that they love their jobs," added Diana Gallardo of San Diego.
Social Reaction: Fans Rejoice As Disneyland Reopens
Capacity is limited to 25% capacity. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Only California residents are allowed to visit at this time. The demand for tickets has been extraordinary. Disneyland's online reservation experienced major delays when it opened April 15.
Visitors must wear masks and follow physical distancing guidelines. Guests will also not be able to get up close and personal with their favorite Disney characters, such as Mickey Mouse. There will be no parades or fireworks shows either.
Those with a Park Hopper ticket you will not be allowed to switch parks until about 1 p.m.
Disneyland conducted soft opening previews Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for its 15,000 cast members.
"Opening a park responsibly is really part of what we're trying to do as we all know that safety is a driving force of our organization," Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said Thursday. "The opportunity for us to manage capacity, the opportunity to have a reservation system, hygiene, masks, social distancing, proper break areas, all of those kinds of things go into creating a safe and responsible environment for both cast and guests."
The boon to Anaheim businesses is also a welcome sight as well. The city has about 75 hotels, and half of them have been closed for the past year, Lyster said.
"The other half have been scraping by with minimal occupancy," city spokesman Mike Lyster said. "We now have heard some could be near full over the next few days."
Orange County Board Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, who represents the theme park, said the reopening is "very uplifting."
"My goodness, jobs are coming back," Chaffee said. "Businesses that feed off Disney will be able to start up again, and at night we'll see Snow White's Castle light up. Wow, that's a beacon. We love it. It's an inspiring sight."
The reopening of the park coincided with the closure of its mass coronavirus vaccination site, which had lived in Disneyland's parking lot since January. The site administered more than 220,000 vaccinations.
Last month, Disneyland launched "A Touch of Disney," an outdoor dining experience in California Adventure Park. It ran through April 19.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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