The annual tradition of trying to figure out when Disneyland will close its gate because of holiday crowds between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day won’t take place in 2020 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Downtown Disney and the partially reopened Disney California Adventure will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, along with the gates of Disneyland and the doors of Disney’s three Anaheim hotels.

Disneyland and Disney’s three Anaheim hotels have been closed for nine months by the COVID-19 pandemic with California theme parks expected to remain shuttered until early 2021 or next summer.

Downtown Disney reopened in July and DCA’s Buena Vista Street returned for shopping and dining in November as an extension of the outdoor mall. Disneyland was forced to close outdoor dining restaurants in Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street and furlough 350 employees because of the Southern California stay-at-home order in early December.

Disneyland resort President Ken Potrock announced the closure of Downtown Disney and Disney California Adventure on Christmas Day in a letter to cast members, Disney parlance for employees.

“For six decades, Christmas Day has always been a special time at the Disneyland Resort, where our cast members have welcomed generations of guests to make cherished memories,” Potrock said in the letter. “But this year is certainly different. Given the continued closure of our theme parks and hotels, and in alignment with typical Christmas operations at other retail locations and shopping centers, we have made the decision to close the Downtown Disney District, including Buena Vista Street, on Christmas Day.”

In a normal year, Disneyland, DCA and Downtown Disney would be bustling on Christmas Day with annual passholders dropping by after opening their presents and the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian and Paradise Pier Hotel filled to near capacity with holiday travelers in town during Christmas break. Of course, this isn’t a normal year.

In 2019, Disneyland temporarily shut its gates on Dec. 27 as crowds filled the park and new visitors were directed to Disney California Adventure across the esplanade until attendance levels declined.

“We have temporarily stopped selling tickets to Disneyland Park,” the official Disneyland Today Twitter account said on Dec. 27, 2019. “As of 11:40 am, Disney California Adventure Park tickets remain available. Updates to follow.”

Disneyland closed its gates at 11:40 a.m. that day, less than 4 hours after the park opened. Disneyland diverted visitors to Disney California Adventure until later in the day when crowds were expected to diminish.

“Disneyland Park is currently at capacity,” Disneyland officials said last year. “Visiting the Disneyland resort during the holidays is a tradition for many people and on high demand days like today, we do all we can to welcome as many guests as possible.”

Visitors who purchase a “divert ticket” with park-hopping access on Dec. 27, 2019 were able to visit Disneyland later in the day after starting at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland occasionally halts visitors from entering when the park reaches capacity, which is estimated to be about 75,000 people. Disney doesn’t release attendance figures.

The holiday week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year at Disney’s Anaheim theme parks.

Touring Plans, which tracks wait times at theme parks, estimated crowds at Disneyland would be at peak levels during Christmas Week 2019 on Dec. 27-30.

Back on that busy day in 2019, Disney fans determined to visit the “Busiest Place on Earth” were met with longer than usual wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (125 minutes), Hyperspace Mountain (120 minutes) and Indiana Jones Adventure (110 minutes).

This year, Potrock thanked Disneyland cast members for their service during a difficult 2020 as he presented them with an early gift: The day off on Christmas.

“I want to acknowledge all of our cast members for your impassioned dedication and service,” Potrock said in the letter. “We all look forward to next year, when we can again welcome guests back to spend Christmas Day at the Happiest Place on Earth. In the meantime, we wish you and your loved ones a wonderful and safe holiday season.”


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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