Lifestyle Travel Disneyland Reopens Today! See the First Photos of Visitors in the Park After Year-Long Shutdown The California theme park reopened its gates April 30 after being close due to the COVID-19 pandemic By Vanessa Etienne Vanessa Etienne Twitter Vanessa Etienne is an Emerging Content Writer-Reporter for PEOPLE. People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 30, 2021 02:27PM EDT Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock Disneyland is officially back in business after its year-long pandemic shutdown. The California theme park welcomed guests on Friday, April 30, for its reopening. Disney first announced the park would finally be making its return on the Disney Parks Blog in March. Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure parks first closed their doors in March 2020 as COVID-19 took hold in the U.S. "The day all of us have long been waiting for is almost here," said Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, in the statement. "We're excited to have more than 10,000 cast members returning to work as we get ready to welcome our guests back to this happy place." Ahead of welcoming the park's first guests this morning, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek shared a pre-opening address to cast members. He participated in the daily ceremony to raise the American flag and encouraged staff as they geared up for the big day. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock Watch the Magical Moment Disneyland Lights Up Sleeping Beauty Castle After a Year-Long Shutdown When the gates opened Friday morning, there were some major changes in place compared to the pre-pandemic park experience. State guidelines require guests to make a reservation for park entry prior to their visit, with a limit to California residents only and groups no larger than three households, along with mask and distancing requirements. Although beloved characters will still be out and about surprising visitors, crowd-drawing experiences like parades and "nighttime spectaculars" will be put on pause in order to ensure social distancing. "Operational changes will be in place at the theme parks and hotels based on guidance from health authorities and learnings from our parks around the world to promote physical distancing, enhanced cleanliness and reduced contact," the press release states. Robert Gauthier/Shutterstock On Monday, Disney live-streamed the moment the Sleeping Beauty Castle in the heart of Disneyland was lit up to celebrate the occasion. "As cast members, we know the enormous effort it has taken to get back to this point and why returning to this happy place is so special for all of us," Disneyland Resort ambassador Rafa Barron said of the magical moment. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock "Tonight, taking in the majesty of Sleeping Beauty Castle, we recognize its significance of the symbols of the hopes and dreams of so many," added ambassador Justin Rapp. Walt Disney World in Orlando reopened back in July with strict mask mandates and social distancing regulations, but without a limit to in-state residents.