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Hugs with Mickey? Not so fast. Disney attractions are coming back — slowly

A lit-up dragon at a Disneyland parade.
Disney is gearing up to restart the Main Street Electrical Parade, a fan favorite at Disneyland, after an indefinite hiatus.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Disneyland and California Adventure Park have relaunched attractions at the parks in phases since reopening in April after a 13-month pandemic shutdown.

Disney fans have not been particularly understanding about the closures and phased ramp-up — designed to allow for the orderly implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols and retraining of staff — especially after Disney announced price hikes Monday of up to 8% on daily tickets. Some complain they are being asked to pay more while being offered fewer attractions.

Don’t fret. Most fan-favorite rides — the Haunted Mansion, the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Pirates of the Caribbean — are running, and Disney is now scrambling to restart many of the remaining out-of-commission attractions in time for the holidays.

Here’s what you need to know about which attractions are back and when others are restarting:

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Dancers in elaborate costumes join Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in the Magic Happens parade on Feb. 28.
Dancers join Mickey Mouse for the Magic Happens parade on Main Street U.S.A. in February 2020.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

What’s back

Parades

Regular nightly parades have yet to return to Disneyland’s Main Street USA, but during the Halloween celebration known as the Oogie Boogie Bash at California Adventure Park, visitors can check out what is called the Frightfully Fun parade, starring Disney villains including Cruella from Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians movies. It runs on select nights until Oct. 31.

Starting on Nov. 12, Disneyland will launch a holiday parade called A Christmas Fantasy, featuring Santa Claus and the Disney princesses, plus Anna, Elsa and Olaf from the animated movie “Frozen,” among others.

Disney has hinted — via TikTock and Instagram posts showing a brightly lit character from the parade rolling out of a warehouse — that it may soon revive a nearly 50-year-old fan favorite, the Main Street Electrical Parade. The parade was upgraded in 2017 with thousands of LED lights and a renovated sound system to play the theme song/earworm “Baroque Hoedown.” The parade has been on hiatus since 2019.

Before the pandemic, Disneyland launched Magic Happens, its first new daytime parade in more than nine years. The score and lyrics were created by Todrick Hall, a former Disney performer who gained fame as a YouTube star and a Season 9 contestant on ABC’s “American Idol.” There is no word yet whether that parade will return.

The Disneyland Monorail passes by as people walk toward the park entrance in March 2020.
The Disneyland Monorail, shown passing over visitors in early 2020, was closed during the park’s 13-month pandemic shutdown and through the early months of its reopening. It started running again Oct. 15.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Monorail

The Disneyland Monorail, which was first launched in 1959, didn’t reopen until Oct. 15. Disney representatives said it took a long time to restart the ride because of health and safety protocols, as well as the extra time needed to rehire and train staff and test the tram.

Fireworks burst above Sleeping Beauty Castle, bathed in blue light, at Disneylland on May 21, 2015.
A new holiday fireworks display is scheduled to debut at Disneyland on Nov. 12.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Fireworks

An Independence Day fireworks show was restarted in July and a nighttime projection and pyrotechnics display called Halloween Scream runs until Oct. 31 at Disneyland. Starting Nov. 12, a holiday fireworks show — Believe in Holiday Magic — begins at Disneyland and continues on select nights until Jan. 9.

Dancing

The Disney Junior Dance Party, a nightclub for teens and preteens at California Adventure Park, relaunched Oct. 15.

What’s not back yet

Tram

The Disneyland tram that moves visitors from the parking structures to an area near the commercial district known as Downtown Disney has not operated since the park reopened in April. That means you are going to have to stroll an extra 10 to 20 minutes to get to the park entrances. Disney representatives say staff hiring and retraining has contributed to the delay and expect the tram to begin running early next year.

The Lion King projected on a "curtain" of mist at the 2015 launch of the World of Color at Disney California Adventure
The Lion King projected on a “curtain” of mist at the 2015 launch of the World of Color at Disney California Adventure. The show has not come back since the park reopened in April.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Water and light shows

World of Color at California Adventure Park and Fantasmic at Disneyland — two nighttime attractions that feature special effects, lights, water and pyrotechnics — aren’t yet running again. There is no word on when they might restart.

A young visitor waves at Elsa and Anna characters at Disneyland Resort on May 3, 2021.
A young visitor waves at the Elsa and Anna characters at Disneyland. COVID-19 protocols mean visitors must keep their distance from costumed characters, so no hugs or selfies for now.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Hugs with characters

Forget about hugging Mickey Mouse or high-fiving Chewbacca. Since the parks reopened, the so-called “character experiences” have been constrained by pandemic social distancing rules. You are now limited to waving to costumed characters who stand behind barriers or on elevated stages several feet away. Disneyland officials have not given a timeline for when visitors may once again get close to their favorite characters.

Guests wait in line at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland in  2017.
The Genie+ system that will let visitors skip regular queues will be launched later this fall. Above, guests wait in line at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

The underwater attraction, previously called Submarine Voyage, has yet to reopen because of ongoing COVID-19 health and safety concerns. The ride, which was overhauled in 2007 to incorporate the story and characters of the Pixar film “Finding Nemo,” is now being refurbished. A reopening date has not been announced.

Fastpass and Maxpass

The Fastpass and Maxpass systems that let visitors skip the regular queues by scheduling a time to show up at an attraction were eliminated when the parks reopened. The replacement system, Genie and Genie+, are expected to launch later this fall. The Genie feature on the Disneyland app gives parkgoers suggested park itineraries based on the visitor’s preferences. Genie+, which costs $20 per day, also lets visitors skip the regular queues to use an expedited Lightning Lane.


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