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Theme Parks and Attractions Begin to Reopen Across the Country; Cedar Fair Awaiting Green Light to Reopen in Ohio

SANDUSKY OHIO - Cedar Fair's Flagship Park, Cedar Point to announce re-opening date
An announcement from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on June 4 is expected to detail re-opening plans for zoos, parks, and museums.

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Both large and small, theme parks are coping with the pandemic by waiting, watching, working on maintenance and attractions, and preparing for reopening. And in some cases, limited attractions are either already open while others are coming soon.

At Western Playland in Albuquerque, N.M., the park is currently closed until further notice. The park's website states that reopening information will be posted both there and on their Facebook page; for now, it remains closed. Owner Pat Thomson says he has been doing his best to keep staff employed by doing maintenance throughout the park. Looking forward, however, Thompson wonders what comes next. “Are people going to get out in large crowds again? What are they going to do? Everything is so unknown.”

Also in New Mexico, Cliff's Amusement Park has focused on maintenance and guest safety, as the park awaits an opening date. Previously purchased single day rides passes for 2020 will be valid for the 2021 season if not used this year; 2020 season passes will also valid for the 2021 season if unused.

In Portland, Ore., while The Oaks Amusement Park can't pin down an opening date either, the park offered a fun food take-out option for its fans over Memorial Day weekend. “While we can't spend the day together yet, you can pick up a little bit of Oaks Park for your at-home celebration,” the park's Facebook page notes. The park is offering their original recipe fried chicken, usually only provided to private catered events. But it will be offered as a to-go item on Memorial weekend's Saturday, an inclusive treat that includes eight pieces of chicken, mac & cheese, green salad and rolls all of which can be ordered online.

At Skypark at Santa's Village in Big Bear, Calif., the bike park and trail system area of the attraction reopened to guests on May 28 using a guest reservation system to limit capacity.  Guests are required to have a face covering, and staff members will be also wearing a covering. Social distancing, placement of hand sanitation stations, and increased signage in restrooms will be utilized to enhance safe practices, too. In a letter to guests, the park also noted frequent cleaning and disinfection scheduling; and attractions that can't accommodate social distancing or would otherwise encourage social gathering will remain closed. To enforce these rules, the park will have monitors at work. Temperature checks will be performed on guests and staff. In the meantime, as a summer opening date for Skypark attractions is awaited, the venue began offering curbside meal pick-up from its St. Nick's location on May 21st. Ordering is done online for food items such as Red Nose Chili and the Northwoods Club sandwich, as well as goodies from the park's Gingerbread Bakery.

At Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif., the park's website and Facebook page is offering weekly Wednesday LEGO building challenges via video; participants are encouraged to share their own builds with hash tags on social media. The theme park is also offering California residents free shipping with LEGO sets purchased online from the theme park stores. Meanwhile, in Goshen, N.Y., the planned July opening of this brand-new Legoland location has been delayed, according to Julie Estrada who directs Merlin Entertainment's North American public relations. “It was an extremely tough decision to delay the opening due to coronavirus, knowing how much excitement had built for the attraction's July launch. But …we needed to make this very tough call for the health and safety of our team, our community and our guests.”   Legoland in Florida reopened to guests on June 1, marking the first major theme park to re-open in Central Florida.  While employees are required to wear face coverings, guests are not required to do so as they will be at Disney World, Universal, and Sea World.

Disney Parks Reopening

While Disney World and its resorts in Orlando, Fla. remain shuttered through July 11, Disney Springs, Disney's shopping and entertainment district, reopened in a limited capacity on May 20. The attraction utilized increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services, and additional safety training for cast members. Its initial reopening offered limited offerings, however on May 27th, Disney-owned shops and restaurants including World of Disney, D-Luxe Burger for mobile orders, and the Marketplace Co-Op also reopened. Disney Springs will offer limited parking and reduced entrances, provide temperature screenings before entry, and there will also be physically distanced queues, reduced hours, and the addition of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers placed at locations throughout.  The World of Disney is currently utilizing a virtual queue for when the store hits capacity.

The ever present large-park competition continues with Universal Orlando Resort already having already reopened their CityWalk shopping attraction and on June 3, their theme park attractions began a phased reopening. At City Walk, a variety of venues are open during the evening hours including both full-service and quick-service food locations such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Jimmy Buffett's® Margaritaville®, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen's dessert foundry and candy-smith areas, as well as the Red Over Pizza Bakery, Voodoo Donut and Cinnabon, which offer mobile ordering. All restaurants offer a limited menu and limited seating. Open for shopping at present are Airbrush, the retail section of Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company, and the Universal Studios Store as well as select merchandise carts. There's also one entertainment attraction currently open as well, Hollywood Drive-In Golf's two 18-hole, interactive courses. Last week's opening also offered face coverings and hand sanitizer for sale; and inside restrooms, signs were placed above every other sink and urinal to enforce social distancing.

Citywalk Precautions

Universal CityWalk's posted precautions

Meanwhile at Six Flags Great Adventure, the park is offering a blast from its recent past. Until 2012, the park operated a drive-through experience with guests enjoying viewing 1,200 exotic animals from inside their own cars. Guided tours were implemented after 2012, but for 2020, the park is welcoming guests back to the future as a drive-in attraction once again. The drive through attraction opened May 30 and requires guests to book in advance through the parks web site.

Cedar Fair has yet to announce an official reopening of its Kings Island and Cedar Point parks in Ohio, however, the company is making plans to move forward with an advanced park reservation system for guests.  The theme park giant has expanded their mobile apps to  "enable a safe and efficient park reopening experience." The company explains that these new features will allow their theme parks "to open with capacity limitations and processes in compliance with state and local health guidelines, while enhancing the guest experience overall." 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is expected to make an announcement on Thursday, June 4 regarding the re-opening of major theme parks and zoos in the state of Ohio.  "We will have information in regard to the Museum Center, the zoos and other things in two days," DeWine said during a press conference on Tuesday.  “I think for most of these facilities it will be good news. We'll have that on Thursday.”

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