How California theme parks will change when pandemic restrictions end on Tuesday, June 15

Visitors heading to California theme parks after pandemic restrictions end will face a myriad of conflicting coronavirus requirements that are expected to continue evolving as the major tourist destinations navigate the latest “new normal.”

The full reopening of the California economy on Tuesday, June 15 after a 15-month pandemic hibernation will allow theme parks in the state to return to full capacity and end most COVID-19 health and safety measures.

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SEE ALSO: How Avengers Campus already stands in stark contrast to Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge

Unraveling the state’s twisted web of coronavirus rules has left theme parks grappling to find the right path forward as they deal with their most important issue — safety.

Answers to questions about mask requirements, attendance capacity limits, advance reservations, physical distancing, ride restrictions and vaccination verifications will vary depending on whether you are visiting Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood or any of the other theme parks in the state.

Expect the new ground rules at California theme parks to continue shifting up until June 15 and beyond as the state’s businesses and customers adjust to a new landscape without COVID-19 restrictions. The best advice: Check the website before setting out for the park.

SEE ALSO: 6 Disneyland restaurants and bars set reopening dates — including Oga’s Cantina

The end of COVID-19 health and safety mandates in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy on June 15 means California theme parks will no longer need to reduce attendance capacity, restrict ride capacity, limit ride lengths, use only outdoor queues or maintain six-feet distancing requirements.

The state’s new Beyond the Blueprint guidelines bring to an end restrictions that require California theme parks to limit attendance to 15% capacity in the red/substantial tier 2, 25% capacity in the orange/moderate tier 3 and 35% capacity in the yellow/minimal tier 4 of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. California theme parks can return to 100% capacity on June 15.

The state’s public health department will no longer require fully vaccinated theme park visitors to wear masks starting on June 15.

Under the state’s Beyond the Blueprint guidelines, California theme parks and other outdoor mega events are “strongly recommended” to verify that visitors have been fully vaccinated for coronavirus or received a recent negative COVID-19 test. Outdoor mega events should ask visitors who haven’t been vaccinated to wear a mask, according to the guidelines.

Disneyland employees line Main Street U.S.A. awaiting the first guests to arrive when the park reopened on Friday, April 30, 2021 after a 13-month closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Disneyland will be making changes to health and safety processes based on guidance from state and local health officials with an announcement coming soon, according to Disneyland officials.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure plan to increase attendance capacity when state mandates end on June 15, Disneyland resort president Ken Potrock said in late April.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said during a tech conference in late May that he expects the company’s U.S. theme parks to see low double-digit attendance increases over the next several months and reach full capacity by the fall.

As of June 15, Disneyland and DCA will no longer be required to limit park attendance and ride capacity — which will allow the parks to admit more visitors as part of a phased reopening approach.

Disneyland and DCA are not expected to ramp up attendance to 100% capacity immediately — with more than two dozen attractions still closed. Rehiring and retraining the employees necessary to operate those rides will take time.

Disneyland restaurants can return to full capacity, but that is likely to take some time as well. More than two dozen food and beverage locations at Disneyland and DCA remain shuttered — and can’t reopen until employees are rehired.

Dropping physical distancing requirements and using indoor attraction queues again could help Disneyland clear crowded walkways overrun by snaking outdoor lines that have turned some areas of the park into gridlock.

SEE ALSO: Disneyland’s new Spider-man ride delivers absurd web slinging fun with an upper-body workout

Lifting the 15-minute time limit on indoor rides could mean the end to skipping pre-show elements on the popular Rise of the Resistance ride in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — which had to be adapted to a shorter running time under the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Advance online reservations for Disneyland and DCA are expected to stay in place through at least mid-October — and possibly longer based on the park’s reservation availability calendar. The system allows Disney to make staffing, budgeting, marketing and a myriad of other decisions based on anticipated attendance levels.

Disneyland has announced temperature checks will end on June 15.

Ellen Kang and her sister Joanne Kang-Kim walk into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood, Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)


Universal Studios Hollywood will resume business as normal on June 15 and no longer adhere to any attendance or ride capacity constraints.

Universal Studios Hollywood always manages capacity to enhance the guest experience, according to Universal officials.

While Universal Studios Hollywood will follow state requirements regarding masks, the park continues to refine its guidelines, according to Universal officials. The latest updates on Universal’s mask policy can be found on the park’s website.

Unvaccinated visitors are strongly recommended to wear a mask in accordance with state COVID-19 guidelines. Universal will post vaccination signage in the park and notices online, but will not check for proof of vaccination.

The movie theme park has already stopped taking advance online reservations.

A pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site at Universal Studios Hollywood runs through Sunday, June 13 and June 18-24 from noon to 6 p.m. Both the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson shots are available.

SEE ALSO: Universal Studios Hollywood hiring 2,000 for seasonal or office jobs

Annual passholders arrive at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021 as the park reopened for the first time since March 2020. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Knott’s Berry Farm will return to full capacity at some point — but not on June 15. The Buena Park theme park will increase attendance as efficiently and safely as possible, according to Knott’s officials.

Knott’s rides, attraction queues, restaurants and shops will return to full capacity on June 15 with no six-foot physical distancing requirements.

Bay Area sister park California’s Great America in Santa Clara will follow the same guidelines as Knott’s starting on June 15. Online advance reservations for both parks will continue after June 15.

Knott’s and Great America are still assessing mask requirements and vaccination verifications.

Larger indoor shows at the Walter Knott Theatre and Great America Theater will not return until after the summer season.

SEE ALSO: Knott’s Bear-y Tales delivers fast and furious game play in fun tribute to 1970s ride

The new Electric Eel roller coaster at SeaWorld San Diego. (Photo courtesy of SeaWorld San Diego)


SeaWorld San Diego will return to full capacity on June 15 with advance reservations required for park admission.

Restaurants, shops, rides and indoor exhibits such as Penguin Encounter, Shark Encounter and Turtle Reef will also return to full capacity with no six-foot physical distancing requirements. SeaWorld brought back the Quick Queue front-of-​the-line system in early June.

SeaWorld San Diego visitors will no longer be required to wear masks starting June 15 — with one exception. The California Department of Public Health strongly recommends visitors who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, or a negative coronavirus test in the previous 72 hours, to wear a mask while visiting the park. SeaWorld will remind visitors of the state’s vaccination and mask recommendations, but won’t require proof of vaccination after June 15.

The new interactive Sesame Street “Let’s Play Together” in the Mission Bay Theater will start after June 15.

SEE ALSO: Electric Ocean brings rave-like dance party and music festival to SeaWorld San Diego

A boy runs through Lego Movie World at Legoland California during a preview of the new land on Thursday, May 26, 2021. (Photo by Brady MacDonald, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Legoland California will operate without attendance capacity restrictions, allowing the park to increase capacity to 100% on June 15. Online advance reservations will still be required.

Legoland rides, attraction queues, indoor shows, restaurants and shops will return to full capacity on June 15. Mask usage and physical distancing will continue to be encouraged at the Carlsbad theme park.

Unvaccinated visitors are strongly recommended to follow state mask guidelines and will be required to agree to those terms when purchasing tickets and making advance reservations on the Legoland website.

A new Legoland Discovery Center, originally set to debut at the beginning of the pandemic, will finally open in Milpitas on Monday, June 14. The 31,000-square-foot indoor family entertainment center features a Lego brick Miniland with Bay Area landmarks and more than a dozen rides, attractions and classes.

SEE ALSO: Take a first look at Lego Movie World, opening Friday at Legoland California

People ride the West Coast Racers dueling steel roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Thursday, Apr. 1, 2021. The theme park opened on April 1 for the first time after a yearlong pandemic closure. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Six Flags

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo continue to assess how the state’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines will impact the amusement parks beginning on June 15.

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