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Reopening Plans Start Firming Up at Select Theme Parks Across the Country
Wisconsin Dells' Mt. Olympus Theme Park to open as early as May 23

Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park to open May 23
The park will be open to resort guests only during its initial re-opening.

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While Disney and other theme park behemoths consider how to enforce the mask- wearing and temperature checks being utilized abroad, Dollywood could become the first theme park to reopen in the U.S., with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announcing that amusement parks can reopen as soon as Friday, May 22. According to Dollywood spokesperson Pete Owens, the park is planning to reopen soon, but no date was provided. “We will announce our intentions soon,” Owens said of the park, which is located in the tourism hotbed of Pigeon Forge.

Wisconsin Dells opening as early as May 23

If the intentions aren't finalized quickly, however, the “first out of the gate” theme park could be the smaller Mt. Olympus park located in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. That park – both its theme and waterpark are planning to reopen on Saturday, May 23rd –  is opening only to visitors with reservations at the resort's hotel, located onsite. Themed after ancient Greek mythology, the park is offering discounts, free parking, and of course, social distancing with limited attendance. According to owner Nick Laskaris, “We know travelers will still be looking to social distance once they set out on family vacations this summer, and this will give our overnight guests more space to safely have fun.” The park will be running at a 50% reduction in attendance capacity, with queue line markers in place.

Employees will wear gloves and masks as necessary, and be subject to wellness and temperature checks daily. Guests can complete park transactions with a room charge wristband; high touch areas will be disinfected throughout the day. There will also be hand-sanitizing dispensers located throughout the park, and hotel rooms will have scheduled deep cleanings. Additionally, housekeepers will not enter a room throughout the whole stay and elevators will only be used for luggage, large items, or for handicapped or disabled persons with an accompanying guest.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. lists a series of recommendations which the park is following, including sanitizing rides between each use and closing any attractions where that is not possible.

It also recommends that swimming pools or water parks hire additional staff to monitor pools for the adequate use of disinfection chemicals and sanitize tables and chairs between guests.

Closely following Mt. Olympus, Chula Vista and Kalahari are reopening May 27th in Wisconsin. The Kalahari has added protective shields in high traffic areas, is requiring workers to wear masks or shields, and has hired a “wellness concierge” to communicate safety initiatives and monitor health standards. The attraction has also added multiple sanitizer stations and distancing compliance signage.

Silverwood & Holiday World:  Facemasks Optional

Holiday World

Moving west to Idaho, the Silverwood theme park and Boulder Beach water park in Athol, Idaho, will reopen for the weekend on May 30 and 31 with regular daily openings scheduled to begin June 6. Ticketed entry is by reservations only; the park will provide complimentary face masks, but making wearing them optional.

Santa Claus Indiana's Holiday World reopens June 14th, only to pass-holders. They will open to the public June 17th. The adjacent Splashin' Safari water park is scheduled to open on July 4. Capacity, per the state governor, will be capped at 50%. The park will not require reservations, but will restrict ticket sales each day. Like Silverwood's system, face masks are optional. The park will utilize a smart phone virtual queue system for line notification.

Also in Indiana, the state's Indiana Beach, located in Monticello, which closed in February, has a new owner. It's grand opening for reservation-only VIPs is scheduled for June 26th; the park will open to the public on the 27th. The park will turn 94 this year.

The revamped drive-through safari attraction at New Jersey's Six Flags Great Adventure is planned to open by reservation only within the next few weeks. However, Oklahoma City's Frontier City is planned as the first Six Flags park to reopen, with a scheduled date to be announced imminently.

Cedar Fair is Working with Local Authorities

Cedar Fair, which has considered not reopening its parks this year, is now, according to CEO Richard Zimmerman, “actively working with the authorities in each of the markets we operate in to monitor their opening timelines and address their specific requirements… once we have a good line of sight to an opening date in any particular market, it will take us a minimum of two to three weeks to open.”

CFO Brian Witherow says the company's parks are prepared to “open as soon as possible.” Zimmerman attests that “Whatever changes are recommended or required, our overarching goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone at our parks while still providing our guests with a best-day experience.”

The health and safety protocols Cedar Fair will be providing include employee screenings and protection with daily wellness checks and mandatory health and safety training for COVID-19. The protocols also focus on the use of social distancing. In this regard, the park reservation systems will manage attendance; social distancing will be firmly in place. Enhanced and expanded sanitization measures such as hand-sanitizing and washing stations, frequent disinfection of common surfaces, and regular sanitizing and cleaning of restrooms are all planned.

The Cedar Fair parks are considering introducing virtual queuing system for rides and attractions as well. Food safety is also paramount: the parks are creating social distancing space in restaurants, as well as expanding the use of cashless transactions and mobile orders, and regularly disinfecting and cleaning all areas in dining spots.

Regardless of restrictions or protocol, a big welcome back to theme parks opening this summer.
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