Most US theme parks have either now reopened or have set a planned date to welcome guests again. All have implemented health and safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is a round-up of what you need to know.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood falls under the State of California guidelines, which state that theme parks can open at 15% capacity on April 1 when their respective counties enter the state's red tier designation. Capacity will be increased to 25% in the orange tier and a capacity of 35% will be allowed in the least-restrictive yellow tier. Comcast’s chief financial officer, Mike Cavanagh, indicated that the park would reopen in April during an investor conference, but gave no official date for this to take place. The park is likely to follow similar protocols to those in place at its other theme parks, including enhanced sanitization, mandatory mask-wearing, temperature screening and social distancing. Check out its website here.
Walt Disney World, Florida
All four Walt Disney World theme parks in Florida (Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom) are now open, as is Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park. The Typhoon Lagoon water park remains closed. Park attendance is managed via the Disney Park Pass reservation system, face coverings are required for guests aged two and over, and temperature screenings are required for entry to some locations. Temporary adjustments are in place to promote physical distancing, and experiences may be modified in order to reduce contact. See more here.
Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Park will both reopen in late April, according to Bob Chapek, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company. He didn't give a specific date but the general rule for California theme parks is that they can open on April 1. California rules say that theme parks may open at 15% capacity when their respective counties enter the state's red tier designation, capacity will be increased to 25% in the orange tier and a capacity of 35% will be allowed in the least-restrictive yellow tier. Attendance will be confined to in-state visitors, indoor dining will be restricted and some indoor rides may be required to remain closed. The wearing of masks will be mandatory. Check out its website here.
Universal Studios Orlando
Universal Orlando Resort reopened in June 2020 with enhanced health and safety procedures, including temperature checks upon arrival and the sanitization of high-touch surfaces in the Orlando resort. Visitors must maintain social distancing of at least six feet and guests should stand on floor markings until the group in front moves forward, where applicable. Parking is staggered in garages to maintain distance upon arrival, and guests aged two and over must wear masks at all times, apart from when eating and drinking. Its website is available here.
Dollywood reopened on March 12 with enhanced health and safety requirements. These include the wearing of face masks or coverings for guests aged two and older, with exceptions made when dining or swimming. Guests at the Tennessee resort are required to keep six feet apart, and furniture has been positioned to help people adhere to social distancing guidelines. There is a reduced capacity in public areas, including restaurant and resort pool areas, and the traditional stayover service with daily housekeeping service has been discontinued. Further information is available here.
Knoebels in Pennsylvania is opening for the season on April 24, although it opened for special events last Christmas. The resort has installed more than 150 hand sanitizing stations throughout the park and sneeze guards at food stands, gift shops, guest services and handstamp. When it opened at Christmas, face coverings had to be worn at various points of the village, such as in the admissions building and while using restroom facilities. Further information is available here.
Cedar Point, Ohio
Cedar Point in Sandusky is scheduled to open on May 29. Guests will be required to wear face coverings while in the park, and health screenings and temperature checks will be mandatory. Hand sanitizing stations have been added throughout the park. Cedar Point will open with limited capacity in the park so visitors can maintain proper social distancing from other guests. Contactless payment methods should be used, and one person in each group must have a mobile phone with the Cedar Point app downloaded and "Location Services" enabled. Further information is available here.
Kings Island, Ohio
Kings Island in Ohio will reopen on May 15, although a gold and platinum season passholders' preview will take place on May 8 and 9. Soak City Water Park will open on May 29. Visitors over two years will be required to wear face coverings, and a health screening questionnaire completed within 24 hours of the date of visit to the park is required for all guests. Temperature checks are in place and there are hand sanitization stations throughout the park. Kings Island will open with limited capacity in the park and contactless payment methods should be used. One person in each group must have a mobile phone with the Kings Inn app downloaded and "Location Services" enabled. Further information is available here.
Silver Dollar City, Missouri
Silver Dollar City in Missouri opens on March 17 although its water park remains closed. The park will be reducing and managing its daily capacity, and face masks or face coverings are required for all visitors aged two and older, apart from when eating or on water park attractions. There is a mask-free break zone where visitors can remove their masks but they must stay six feet apart from guests not in their party. Temperature screenings will be taken before entry, and all guests will undergo a health assessment prior to entry. Visitors have to practise social distancing throughout the resort, and further information can be found here.
Busch Gardens, Williamsburg and Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and Tampa Bay are open, and when guests arrive, they must undergo and pass temperature screening. Guests aged two years of age and older must wear face coverings while in the park, but are not required to wear them while eating and drinking or in designated relaxation areas of the park. Signage and markings have been installed to facilitate physical distancing, and lounge chair seating has been be modified to maintain physical distancing. Contactless payments is encouraged and plexi-glass has been installed in high-traffic or close-contact areas to maintain a physical barrier. Their website can be found here.
Six Flags has 26 parks across the US, Mexico and Canada and opening dates vary by state. For all parks, guests are asked to review the company's health policy, which requires all attendees to have been healthy for at least 14 days prior to their visit. All guests over the age of two are required to wear face masks, apart from in pools and on water park attractions, and mask-free break zones are available. Cash isn't permitted as card and mobile payments apply at all locations, and non-invasive temperature checks are conducted on all guests. A new park reservation and contact system is in operation, and the maximum daily attendance at each park is controlled to maximize the space available to each guest. There are custom plans for each ride and attraction to minimize contact between guests and promote social distancing. Check out the individual rules for each park here.
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