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Disneyland's California Adventure Reopens As A Big Food Court In March (Without The Rides)

The new A Touch of Disney experience includes more of California Adventure than fans have had for the past year — along with more masking. (Courtesy Disneyland Resort)
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It's been a long season of discontent for Disneyland fans, with the Southern California parks largely shuttered since the COVID-19 epidemic broke out a year ago. Now, a ray of hope for some: the chance to visit more of California Adventure, starting on March 18.

Of course, you won't be able to enjoy the attractions we all associate with the theme park — they're still closed, thanks to COVID-19 protocols. The new event is called "A Touch of Disney," since you're not getting the full experience.

What you will get: food and drinks from both parks, including the iconic Dole Whip and churros. You'll also be able to see Disney characters and take photos, including with some photo experiences only available during A Touch Of Disney. These experiences include taking photos in front of a Pixar parade float, as well as with the cars in Cars Land. Characters you'll be able to visit include Mickey Mouse and friends, Cars' Mater and Lightning McQueen in Cars Land, and Joy and Sadness at Pixar Pier.

Snap a photo with the Cars characters as part of A Touch of Disney. (Courtesy Disneyland Resort)
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And of course, you'll be able to buy merch. There will be six seasonal, themed markets, along with some of the park's regular retail locations. Accompanying the experience will be what Disney describes as a specially curated soundtrack of reimagined Disney songs, playing throughout the park.

Disney's not-quite-reopening has been happening slowly, starting with Downtown Disney. The dining experience already extended into Buena Vista Street at California Adventure, but now more of the park will be opening up, including Cars Land and Pixar Pier. Combined with employees who've already been brought back as part of the Buena Vista Street dining, Disney says A Touch Of Disney will result in nearly 1,000 of its employees returning to work.

The company says A Touch of Disney will follow health and safety protocols, including requiring temperature checks and face coverings. Disney also made changes to promote physical distancing, as well as using enhanced cleaning procedures. The experience will have limited capacity due to those protocols.

There were 27 new cases of COVID-19 in Anaheim in the most recent reporting period, and no deaths. Orange County as a whole remains in the state's most serious risk-level tier, purple or "widespread." Its seven-day average positivity rate is 5.4% — L.A. County's seven-day average rate was 4.7% as of Monday.

While Disney previously made the move to cancel annual passes due to the pandemic, "Legacy Passholders" will still get some special perks at A Touch of Disney.

The new experience will be open Thursdays through Mondays, noon to 8 p.m., starting March 18. Your $75 ticket includes admission, parking, downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken at the park, and a $25 dining card. Tickets for March 18 through April 5 are available starting Thursday, March 4.

You have to buy your tickets in advance, with tickets for future dates released on a rolling schedule for as long as it lasts. You can also make reservations for the Lamplight Lounge and Carthay Circle Lounge's alfresco outdoor dining starting March 11.

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