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My experience in Downtown Disney

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  • Trip Report My experience in Downtown Disney

    Hi guys,

    First off, I apologize in advance for not having any photos to share. I typically don't take them around the resort (Wife usually handles that and she's still working on getting things posted on her end). So this is a report based on my experience of an impromptu trip to Downtown Disney yesterday.

    Quick background; we're from San Diego but didn't have any plans for the day and there was an item I was hoping to pick up at a hobby shop in Brea, so after that trip and feeling hungry, my better half and I decided to make the trip to the nearby Downtown Disney area. We got there at roughly 4pm and the Simba lot was closed. We waited in a line of cars just to figure this out, apparently lots of people didn't know. I think Disney could benefit from rolling out the parking light signs along the boulevard informing Guests coming down it in advance whether or not the lot is currently accepting Guests. Otherwise it just causes a bit of confusion/disappointment. We didn't wait more than a few minutes so it really wasn't that big of a deal but the entire time we were in DTD and had a view of the street below, we saw folks waiting in the line. Probably to end up with the same realization as us.

    So we parked at Gardenwalk and walked over. We noticed a few areas/closed hotels were offering up Public Parking for a hefty fee. For example, the Anaheim hotel across from Guardians of the Galaxy was offering public parking to experience "the surrounding area" for $18 bucks a pop. Lots of people were parked there but it wasn't full. But Gardenwalk was fine for us, the first hour was free and each additional was only $3 so it ended up being $9 total. Apparently, your parking ticket also gives you a chance to win some sort of prize via ticket number drawing that happens every Monday. They must reallllly want people to park there/visit in general.

    It was pretty hot for the time of day. The sun was oppressive. If you plan to go, prepare accordingly.

    Our interactions with the Cast were lovely. Folks seemed to be more engaging and in high spirits. I think this is because they're happy to be working at all/see Guests again (-and in more manageable numbers). If it were me, I'd feel pretty lucky to be part of the comparatively small amount of folks selected to continue working during these trying times but I realize some folks may feel differently. For what it's though, everyone seemed really happy to be there (or they were really good at hiding their pain).

    Walking into the esplanade, things were of course, empty. First stop for me? Bathroom by DCA. I was actually happy to discover that it was closed with a Cast Member standing outside who informed us they were currently giving it a deep clean. They directed me to the bathrooms across the way over by Disneyland. While the esplanade was empty, Downtown was another story.

    Not going to lie, it sort of felt like a normal day in terms of crowd level in the outdoor mall. There was less people than usual but there was still a lot of people. I want to stress this next part; there was little to no social distancing happening when it came to folks walking around. This is a tricky area because it's almost impossible to control. I don't think it's realistic or possible to have enough Cast around, readily running up to people and telling them they need to immediately step away from the guy who just passed in front of them on their way to Starbucks. Human nature and the amount of people wandering the walkway just don't allow for it. That said, there was a lot of good I saw, too.

    While the folks walking through the main thoroughfare may be somewhat uncontrollable, the things Disney could control, they did a great job of. For starters, we had to get a return time (think Fastpass but with your phone and text messages) for any of the major shops to prevent overcrowding (in or out of them) and when we did get our return times, the CMs did a great job of telling us where to stand and keeping us divided from the parties in front of us on our way in as we waited. -and while Disney couldn't fully control the amount of people entering DTD or wandering the walkways, they could control how many people were in the stores and the numbers felt just right. Socially distancing in World of Disney, Disney HOME and even the Pin Trading Stand was super easy and there was thankfully sanitizer to be found in droves both before and after purchases (though I'd still recommend bringing your own, just in case and to be extra safe if you plan on going).

    Masks; everyone I saw was wearing them despite the heat. The only folks who weren't were seated and eating. A few things I want to talk about on this subject that we experienced: first, whenever we purchased something from an outdoor vending cart, the CM working there made sure to inform us before purchasing that eating while walking was no longer permitted and that they had gone cashless. I appreciated the CMs letting Guests know before they make their purchase and all Guests around seemed to happily oblige. We, like the others, had to find a shaded spot nearby that wasn't marked as a "no sit" zone and enjoy our churro there. It wasn't hard to do. Secondly, there were lots of CMs out and about enforcing the mask policy. I know this because I heard one informing a Guest they would have to put their mask back on and another instance was with my own wife. Moments after finishing our churro, she started sharing a story with me about her workplace without realizing she hadn't put her mask back on. A CM saw us sitting there without food, talking and informed her she'd need to put the mask back on. Oops! But happy to do so and even happier to see them paying attention like this.

    Another thing we weren't expecting but were very happy about: they were honoring our annual pass discount. Even though the parks were closed and I haven't made a payment on our Flex passes since March, they were still perfectly valid for a 10% discount on the merchandise we purchased. Nice!

    We had dinner at the just re-opened Jazz Kitchen. I had never been before. There was no wait for a party of two at that time of day but later on we heard it was 45min to an hour. They don't do reservations, just walk ups. We had the gumbo and blackened salmon. Both were really good. We decided to also try a virgin Mint Julip to try and get our fix since the park was closed but we wouldn't recommend it this way. It tasted like a flavorless soda. Maybe the alcohol would have made it better but we didn't feel like drinking. The restaurant also provided us a baggie to keep our masks in while we had them off for eating, which was nice. It was also nice to see all the restaurants that were open having a good amount of people filling their outdoor patios and breathing some life into the businesses/the area in general.

    Afterwards we got a scoop at Salt and Straw (a favorite of ours down here in SD, try the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, seriously) and I was flabberghasted to see that there was no line with the kind of heat the area was experiencing. But yup, no line. In and out in less than 5 minutes. Cashless here as well, with a CM outside to let us know the drill.

    So yeah, that was it. We did our shopping, had our dinner and walked back to the Gardenwalk structure and drove on back to SD. The entire experience from start to finish was about 4 hours. It was a fine experience overall, barring the heat which we know is out of Disney's control. Lots of positives: cheerful, informative, engaging CMs who were making sure Guests were abiding by the mask rules and were enforcing social distancing while waiting in line for the stores and once inside it. They were also keeping track of every Guest who came in and out via their company-issued phones/tablets/whatever you want to call them. Lots of cleaning going in the area and the food was good, too. Also happy about the continued AP discounts. The only issues I'd say they have right now are: letting Guests know in advance that the Simba lot is closed so folks don't waste time in a line of cars on the street and the general crowd level filling the outdoor mall. To Disney's credit, it's apparent that they were trying to control this by pulsing the Simba lot. But with other areas like the Gardenwalk and closed hotels offering up public parking for a fee and just a short walk away, more folks are probably getting in than they expected.

    If you made it this far, thanks for sticking this one out with me and I hope it helps a little bit. Sorry that my report is just a boring wall of text unlike some other reports but I still wanted to share it anyways!
    Last edited by Blurr; 08-24-2020, 10:36 AM. Reason: Grammar
    "I take no side. I am beyond your worrying and wars. I am unseen. Unknowable. Like a rock in the river."

  • #2
    Very interesting! I've heard rumors about DLR opening sooner then we thought now that Orange County isn't "a place of interest" when it comes to Covid. I hope they do it once they get the social distancing in order.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by YellowTugStrap View Post
      Very interesting! I've heard rumors about DLR opening sooner then we thought now that Orange County isn't "a place of interest" when it comes to Covid. I hope they do it once they get the social distancing in order.
      It's nice to hear they aren't on the watch-list right now. Here in San Diego, we just came off it too. But if I'm not mistaken, I think I heard something about us needing to keep our numbers down for two weeks after removal from the list to get anything major back. I imagine it'd be the same for Orange County. But hey, fingers crossed!
      "I take no side. I am beyond your worrying and wars. I am unseen. Unknowable. Like a rock in the river."

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      • #4
        Thanks for sharing this info!
        "I wish they all could be California Bears!"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Blurr View Post

          It's nice to hear they aren't on the watch-list right now. Here in San Diego, we just came off it too. But if I'm not mistaken, I think I heard something about us needing to keep our numbers down for two weeks after removal from the list to get anything major back. I imagine it'd be the same for Orange County. But hey, fingers crossed!
          Yeah, I believe numbers have to either maintain or continue to drop an additional 14 days before the next phase can begin. I thought I had heard 16 days, but now I think it is just 14.

          The potential problem is, will people see this good news, think it's all over and begin to throw caution to the wind and just become complacent and stop being smart about this virus all over again? That exact issue is probably why we saw a major resurge 45 days ago. People really have to continue to be diligent and social distance, wear masks, practice super hygenic habits and be self aware even after things re-open. Otherwise, we'll be right back to square one all over again in a flash.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DarthBrett78 View Post

            Yeah, I believe numbers have to either maintain or continue to drop an additional 14 days before the next phase can begin. I thought I had heard 16 days, but now I think it is just 14.

            The potential problem is, will people see this good news, think it's all over and begin to throw caution to the wind and just become complacent and stop being smart about this virus all over again? That exact issue is probably why we saw a major resurge 45 days ago. People really have to continue to be diligent and social distance, wear masks, practice super hygenic habits and be self aware even after things re-open. Otherwise, we'll be right back to square one all over again in a flash.
            Another issue is that any county that does good and opens back up is at risk of being flooded with folks looking to get away from their closed area and then ruin it for everyone again. I remember back in early July, SD county was the only open one in SoCal for indoor dining and that weekend traffic into SD was pretty bad because so many folks were coming down. Fast forward a few days later and suddenly we were shut down, too.
            "I take no side. I am beyond your worrying and wars. I am unseen. Unknowable. Like a rock in the river."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Blurr View Post
              Another issue is that any county that does good and opens back up is at risk of being flooded with folks looking to get away from their closed area and then ruin it for everyone again. I remember back in early July, SD county was the only open one in SoCal for indoor dining and that weekend traffic into SD was pretty bad because so many folks were coming down. Fast forward a few days later and suddenly we were shut down, too.
              Sadly true. The same thing continues to happen in southern states, where any county that relaxes its rules for dining and entertainment is flooded by people driving in from nearby counties, in addition to its own residents dropping their safety standards at family gatherings. Three weeks later, the result is a new surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

              This roller coaster pattern was accurately predicted by health experts in the early spring. The same experts predict that without an aggressively enforced national program of testing and contact tracing, the pattern will continue -- bringing more deaths to people, more grief to families, and a prolonged depression to the economy.
              "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
              it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
              together with every variety of recreation and fun,
              designed to appeal to everyone."

              - Walt Disney

              "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
              - Michael Eisner

              "It's very symbiotic."
              - Bob Chapek

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              • #8
                I'm glad OC is off the list, but I agree about it getting flooded with people from outside the county.

                I almost think that DL shouldn't be allowed to reopen until the majority of the neighboring counties are off the list, too.
                Last edited by Stormy; 08-26-2020, 08:11 AM.
                "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.​"

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                • #9
                  I thought originally that limiting parking in Simba and closing it down at times was to regulate the amount of people in DD. If you can park anywhere and walk in, that system isn't working, I can see why it is busy in the walkways. Maybe they need reservations for DD. I also think they could work on the walkways more from what you say to make them go in one direction, etc. I hope they get it as together as possible before they open the parks. The areas in Disneyland are so small compared to WDW.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pattimarie View Post
                    I hope they get it as together as possible before they open the parks. The areas in Disneyland are so small compared to WDW.
                    This is the number one reason why re-opening for DL is going to be incredibly challenging and much more difficult than WDW's re-opening was for Disney. If DW is only allowing 25-33% max capacity, then DL really needs to only allow 10-15% max capacity to be safe. DL has cramped pathways all over, mostly tiny queues that are much more confined than in FL, smaller buildings and is just way smaller than FL's parks are on the whole in general. It's going to be really interesting to see how they tackle a re-opening while being safe or making sure guests feel safe. The other difference that will make DL's re-opening more of a nightmare logistically is that DL relies on mostly locals for business and DW does not. It's why we're seeing DW scaling back hours and seeing very small crowds in Florida. DL on the other hand is going to be flooded with locals dying to get in as soon as reservations open up and probably be hitting max reduced capacity on a daily basis with mobs of people hitting the parks.

                    I'd feel a lot more safe going to DW right now than going to DL if it were open.

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