Disneyland Anaheim California Finally Re-Opens

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on June 29, 2021 # Travel, Lifestyle

Zack in DisneyMy family lives in Southern CA., about 20 minutes from Disneyland. The worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus closed Disneyland resort for over a year. It was the longest shut down since Disney first opened in 1955. Disneyland has closed its doors very few times. It closed in 1963, the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and then in 1994 after the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake struck Los Angeles. That was one of the largest recorded earthquakes at the time. Claims were made that Disney didn’t actually shut down but that each ride was inspected thoroughly before the rides re-opened. Another time the park shut down was September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked New York’s Twin Towers. The Park re-opened on September 12, 2001 with new security measures, including police, K-9 units and security screenings. So, you can see why the COVID-19 shut down on March 14, 2020, was a big deal since it lasted until April 30, 2021.

If you’re a dedicated Disney fan, this most likely affected you more. You understand and have experienced the joyful feeling you can get when you stroll through the park. Honestly, I didn’t get it at first. I took my kids and enjoyed watching them have fun. The downside is it’s so expensive! When I became an annual pass holder, it was more fun for me. I didn’t feel like I had to see everything or go on all the rides. I could go for a few hours and go home.

My favorite time to visit the theme parks is during the holiday season and seeing the Christmas decorations. I’m an introvert, so I avoid crowds as much as I can. We heard Disneyland had opened at 15% capacity, so we thought we’d give it a try. My son Zack is a C-4 quadriplegic and had an annual pass when COVID-19 first hit. They refunded some of the money but are not issuing new passes until further notice.

Zack and I decided to surprise my 7-year-old nephew and one sibling. I bought 4 tickets priced at $150 each, ouch! But felt like we needed something to look forward to. The day came and we surprised my nephew Drake by having him open a wrapped gift with a bright orange Mickey Mouse T-shirt and black and white Mickey face masks. He thought he was going to school and then shopping with his mom at Costco. He was more than excited about the surprise!

When we arrived, we were greeted with a long line to park, but since Zack is in a wheelchair, we were waved towards handicap parking, then through a long but moving security line. The entrance lines were longer than expected but again moved quickly. One favorite moment was entering Main Street hearing the happy upbeat music. Most shops were open with friendly COVID signs reminding everyone to stay 6ft. apart. First, we hit Adventureland but were quickly disappointed to find out the Jungle Cruise ride was closed. This is one of the very few rides Zack a fulltime power wheelchair user can actually go on without transferring. We proceeded to the Indiana Jones ride again, disappointed that you needed to secure a time slot. Everything was packed for a few hours. We attempted to buy food strike 3! You have to pre-order and pay for your food, then come back at the designated time.

Zack in Galaxy's EdgeIf you’re planning a visit, be prepared ahead of time. Download the Disneyland app to your phone. We turned things around by riding Pirates of the Caribbean (minus Zack). The smell of the ride and pirate songs made me smile. My little nephew snuggled close acting brave but holding on to me extra tight, made it more fun for Auntie. Once we figured out the park system and accepted that it felt much more crowded than 15% capacity (I’m guessing that the 6ft. apart rule made the lines stretched out further making it feel crowded), we just enjoyed being there. Zack was able to roll right onto the Winnie the Pooh ride, yes, a little kiddish, but still lovely to be on an actual ride.

The biggest hit of the day was cruising through Galaxy’s Edge at the relatively new Star Wars area. It felt like you landed on another planet, including Stormtroopers and blue milk. The vibe throughout the park was upbeat the weather was perfect. Sun shining but not too hot. We went on more rides and ate overpriced junk food we usually don’t eat and enjoyed shopping on Main Street.

For those in wheelchairs, the rides that are assessable without transferring are:

Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, It’s a Small World, Buzz Light Year, Steamboat and a train that goes around the whole park and makes stops along the way. Overall, it was a great day and worth the splurge, walking and rolling around the “Happiest Place on earth.”

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.