The magic is finally back. After the longest closure in its history due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland Paris re-opened on 17th June 2021: including Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Village and a gradual re-opening of the Disney Hotels.
Most of the same COVID health precautions taken with the rather brief summer 2020 re-opening remain in place, including restricting visitor numbers, physical distancing and wearing a face mask/covering in all public spaces, indoors and outdoors.
For access to the parks, it’s still necessary to reserve an entry date unless your ticket is already dated. See the full summary of safety measures below for more.
In brief, the important dates for summer 2021 are as follows:
- 17th June 2021 — Disneyland Paris re-opens, including Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Village and Disney’s Newport Bay Club
- 21st June 2021 — Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel opens
- 1st July 2021 — Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne re-opens; Disney Junior Dream Factory show opens at Walt Disney Studios Park
- 13th July 2021 — Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch re-opens
- 17th July 2021 — New ‘Coco’ scene added to Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Disneyland Park
Re-opening dates for Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe will be announced at a later time. Disneyland Hotel remains closed, the latest of the hotels to begin a complete refurbishment.
COVID safety measures and impact on bookings — a recap
If you’ve fallen out of the loop on what it currently means to visit Disneyland Paris, here’s the basics.
Before you go:
- Entry to the parks — Unless your ticket is already dated, you need to register your visit date using the online platform on the official website. This is required for Annual Passholders too.
- Flexible bookings — Bookings made directly through Disneyland Paris can be changed or cancelled without fees up to 7 days before arrival (excludes insurance and transport if applicable).
- Pay in instalments — You can now pay just a 15% deposit and then pay the rest anytime in up to five instalments up to 60 days before arrival.
- No booking fees — Disneyland Paris has also temporarily scrapped its usual booking fees, meaning a saving of £25.81 for UK visitors.
In the parks:
- Face coverings — Appropriate face masks covering mouth and nose should be worn in all public spaces, indoors and outdoors, at all times including entering and leaving restaurants, except when eating or drinking.
- Distancing — Attraction queue lines, restaurants and shops have been adapted with distancing measures and screens. Theatres have new seating layouts. Contactless payment is available everywhere.
- Sanitising — As well as enhanced cleaning and sanitising everywhere, especially in high traffic areas, there are endless sanitiser stations throughout the resort, parks and attraction spaces.
- Selfie Spots are back — Disney Characters are meeting guests via distanced “selfie spots”, many fantastically imaginative and almost better than the usual character experience! (Unless you’re an autograph hoarder.)
- FASTPASS is gone — Just announced, the new digital Standby Pass will become the standard queue-skipping service for the parks. Using the Disneyland Paris App, this allows you to wait “virtually”, outside of the queue, at times when it is activated, but you still have to then join a queue to ride. Meanwhile, FASTPASS is now effectively replaced by the hefty upcharge of Disney Premier Access, another new app-only service allowing you to skip the queue line at certain attractions from €8 to €15 per person, per ride. Ouch.
At the hotels:
- Online check-in — Available now at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel and due for rollout in an updated Disneyland Paris App, this service will allow you to check-in in advance and receive a message with your room number, speeding up the entire process and reducing physical contact.
- Distancing in public areas — Besides ground markers and other systems to promote distancing, only one family member should approach reception desks. Lifts must only be used by one family group at a time.
- Room cleaning — Rooms are undergoing an extra-thorough cleaning with attention to 10 high-touch areas. Cleaning equipment such as cloths are replaced for each room. Housekeeping will enter upon request only. Individually-wrapped glassware, disposable cups and double-cased pillows will be provided, while additonal bedspreads, throw cushions, notebooks and pens are removed.
All the Disney Parks are open again!
Guests being welcomed back to the two parks in Paris finally sees the full house of Disney Parks re-opened to the public after a difficult 18 months for the company, its Cast Members and visitors. Attractions are operating again as they were, all too briefly, last summer, with the main notable safety measures being distancing of guests and sanitiser stations.
Such an extended closure has at least allowed the resort’s maintenance teams many months of unrestricted access to the parks and attractions, with Disneyland Paris claiming it’s all looking “more beautiful than ever”.
This includes repainting numerous facades, landscaping and complete attraction refurbishments such as Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, which has had its entry marquee completely freshened up and the entire interactive ride brought back up to scratch.
One notable ongoing refurbishment, however, is Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Yes, Sleeping Beauty Castle itself is currently shrouded in a themed tarpaulin for its biggest-ever overhaul, which began back in January 2021.
Entertainment continues to see the biggest impact of the safety measures and the reduced visitor numbers. There’s still no nighttime spectacular (largely due also to the castle refurbishment) and no main parade. However, Disneyland Paris has worked hard to ensure the ever-popular characters are more visible than ever throughout the parks.
One new initiative is the return of the seemingly immortal Casey Jr parade float train, now named The Cheshire Cat Express Train, with characters from Alice in Wonderland and Mickey, Minnie and the gang on board, providing a parade of sorts. An Enchanted Princess Promenade also brings the Disney Princesses out onto the parade route using a familiar float.
The clever “selfie spots” from last year are back too, with new additions. Including Star Wars Legends, Marvel Super Heroes and Kingdom of Arendelle Enchanted Moments, these allow guests to grab a photo with “over 60 Disney Characters” from a slight distance.
In the lead-up to the re-opening, Disneyland Paris shared a great and quite emotive campaign including showing some of the thousands of Cast Members who make the magic preparing to return to their roles.
A “new” attraction and a “new” hotel
The re-opening has also meant some fresh new features at the resort are finally open to guests, too.
In Walt Disney Studios Park, Cars Road Trip has opened in a new space at the back of Toon Studio, a complete reimagining of the previous Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic. Retaining the all-important Catastrophe Canyon but cutting everything else from the former tour, it adds a couple of new static scenes, animated video commentary and a surprisingly impressive covered station.
Outside the parks, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel saw its long awaited opening just a few days later on 21st June 2021. Comprising 471 Superior Rooms, 65 Empire State Club rooms and 25 Suites, the complete transformation of this existing hotel sees it reimagined into a “New York art gallery” celebrating Marvel comic book artworks.
Back at the Studios, 1st July 2021 saw the premiere of Disney Junior Dream Factory, an all-new family character show in effectively an all-new theatre, built inside the former Disney Junior Live on Stage! space.
One modest fresh feature still to come at Disneyland Park will be the addition of a brand new scene featuring Pixar’s ‘Coco’ to Mickey’s PhilharMagic, the 4-D animated film which was eventually brought to the park’s Discoveryland Theatre back in 2018.
But when can we visit from the UK?
Ah, well there’s the question. The myriad of restrictions and requirements means that a holiday from the UK to Disneyland Paris in summer 2021 may not be a sensible (or even possible) prospect for most.
At the time of writing, the UK is on France’s amber list. This is the most important restriction, because it means those over 18 years of age who are not fully vaccinated simply cannot travel to the country, except for essential reasons.
Even if you have had both vaccinations, there’s quite a complex set of entry requirements including forms and evidence of a negative PCR test, which should be arranged with a private provider, adding cost to the trip.
Each of the UK’s nations has different rules and guidelines on Coronavirus, but for England at least, returning from France (also listed as amber by the UK) currently means quarantining for 10 days and taking two COVID tests. So unless you work from home, that’s a lot of time off work for a few days of Disney magic.
As we head into the summer and the UK Government appears oddly ready to “unlock” further despite rising cases, things will continue to change: for better or worse? Impossible to say.
The best bet right now for international travel to Disneyland Paris is probably to simply look ahead to 2022. Bookings are now open for the next summer season right up until 30th September 2022, when we have to hope things will be largely “back to (new) normal” both in the parks and in travel to the resort itself.
Disneyland Paris is nevertheless continuing to offer its generous cancellation policy, allowing you to change or cancel your booking without fees up to 7 days before arrival (excluding insurance and transport), so if you’re aching for a return to the magic like the rest of us, it’s probably a good move to lock it in now.