May 1 (Reuters) – Masks, temperature checks and no hugs with Mickey Mouse greeted visitors to Disneyland in California on Friday as Walt Disney’s original theme park reopened for the first time in over a year.
Under coronavirus pandemic guidelines, “The Happiest Place on Earth” was opened only to California residents and capacity was limited to 25% to allow for social distancing.
“It was just really nice to be back around all the energy, and the cast members were so welcoming,” said Lauren England, one of the first day visitors.
Guests, age 2 and older, were required to wear face masks and there were none of the usual hugs with costumed characters like Mickey Mouse and Snow White.
There will be no parades, and the nightly fireworks displays have been put on hold to prevent crowds from gathering closely together.
Jocelyn Bonilla, who was among more than 28,000 U.S. Disney theme park workers to be furloughed during the long closure, was delighted to be back.
“I am one of the ones that got let go, so it feels good to be back,” she said. “Seeing everyone back, seeing everything back to normal, it’s amazing.”
Tickets to Disneyland are sold out through mid-June, according to the park’s online reservation system, but there is more availability in the adjacent California Adventure.
Disneyland, located 35 miles south of Los Angeles in Anaheim, opened in 1955.
Walt Disney Co closed its theme parks around the world in March 2020 to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company’s most-visited resort, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, reopened in July 2020.
Disneyland Paris is currently closed. Disney parks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong are open.