Saturday, March 6, 2021

California Amusement Parks Can Open April 1st With Strict Capacity Limitations

© Disney

California has provided a new plan that will allow amusement and theme parks to open in the state as soon as April 1st, although with strict capacity limitations in place.  Prior to Friday's update the only way to get to reopen a large park was for the county it is located in to reach the yellow or "minimal" rating, which has proven impossible as the pandemic continues.

Now, even parks in counties that are in the 2nd red "substantial" tier can open starting April 1st.  The reason this is important is because the counties that contain the largest parks in the state are expected to move from the purple "widespread" ranking into the red ranking in the next couple of weeks.  I believe that California's Great America is already in a county in the red ranking.

© California Dept of Public Health

In the red ranking parks are limited to 15% capacity, which is a very small amount.  The state wants no groups larger than 10 visiting the parks and no more than 3 household groups together.  Indoor attractions will have a 15% max capacity, with "time restrictions" in place, there will be no indoor dining and quite importantly, no out of state visitors are allowed at the parks.

In the orange or "moderate" ranking the capacity limits increase to 25%, with the other rules still in place, although indoor dining is allowed.  In the least restrictive yellow phase capacity is limited to 35%, but indoor capacity remains at 25%.

© Disney

So this is progress, no doubt, but 15% capacity will be a big issue for parks like Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Knott's Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood.  One has to wonder if when they reopen with those restrictions in place if they will hold expanded versions of the food and retail festivals nearly all of them are already holding.  Knott's has been at this for almost a year now, with Disney and Universal joining them soon.  Adding some rides and attractions to the mix, kind of like what Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been doing, could but a good fit for 15% capacity.

These parks could continue to hold separate cost (or discounted for pass holders) events that will help them more easily stay within the 15% capacity limit, while still charging a higher ticket price that can help things stay positive at the bottom line.   Especially with the popular Disney parks, I can't see them just having it be a free for all with regular daily tickets offered for such a small attendance amount.  Perhaps this could work for parks up North, like California's Great America, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and while not North, even maybe Six Flags Magic Mountain.  Maybe.  I'm not convincing myself fully though.

© Universal Studios Hollywood

I remember last year a lot of parks started out by limiting the amount of season pass holder reservations available each day, but when the crowds didn't materialize those restrictions quickly fell off.  That could come back as a more important issue this year for the California parks.  I guess regardless of the capacity mix of pass holders versus day tickets, I can't image these parks will be able to open all their attractions with a 15% capacity limitation, as keeping costs to a minimum will be a major concern.

Unless, of course, we see daily ticket prices go up to $250 a person or something!  I think Disneyland Resort fans would happy whip out their credit cards, but probably not so viable for the other parks.  One thing is for sure, the parks will get creative and find some way to entertain their guests despite these strict rules.  And that's great news to look forward to!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

New Indoor/Outdoor Water Park Concept Art Update From OWA

OWA, a large entertainment destination area on the Gulf Coast in Alabama, has provided new views of their new indoor/outdoor water park that will open in 2022.  The facility will join The Park at OWA, an outdoor amusement park, and Downtown OWA, with shopping, retail and a hotel.  The project is now under construction and the property has set up a web page for it, but there is not a lot of detail at this time aside from these new renderings.

The majority of the water park attractions will be located inside a building that is able to open on the sides to feed into the outdoor section.  From these drawings the outdoor area appears to contain a large wave pool, a surf simulator, plenty of cabanas and lounge areas and some additional amenities.  It certainly looks like the park plans to have "dive-in" movie showings on a large screen set up at the end of the wave pool.



The water attractions offered indoor includes a selection of slides, a water play area, lazy river and more.   On these conceptual drawings you can see what looks like a selection of Proslide attractions, including both tube and body slides.  The giant octopus tentacles are a nice touch, too!  The park does not look to carry a distinct theme, but it's always fun to have some theming around nonetheless.

As for the location of the new indoor/outdoor water park, it appears as though it will take up a currently empty location just to the east of the amusement park.  The above plan shows how it will fit among the existing attractions.  The amusement park's latest addition, an indoor interactive dark ride, can be seen right up against the new indoor water park near the top of the image.


Stay tuned for future updates as the construction continues.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Peppa Pig Theme Park Coming to Legoland Florida Resort in 2022

© Legoland Florida

Now we all know just exactly what Legoland Florida submitted plans for late last year!  A mystery at the time, we correctly speculated that a separate gate might be opening next to Legoland Florida, and it has now been announced that the Peppa Pig Theme Park will open in 2022.

The Peppa Pig Theme Park will be a totally separate attraction at the Legoland Florida Resort, not an extension of the existing theme park in any way.  "This all-new theme park will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, themed playscapes and water play areas—complete with “muddy puddles” of course—and fun live shows daily."


© Legoland Florida

Legoland Florida has released some basic concept art for portions of the park, pretty stylized at this point.  Above is the theme park's main gate - of course none of the park's theme will make any sense if you haven't watched the show before.  If you have small kids then you probably have bumped into the program before.


© Legoland Florida

As for the full roster of rides and attractions, the park's hasn't released that level of detail just yet.  But you can be sure that all attractions will be squarely aimed at small kids and their families.  The park looks to serve as a compliment to Legoland Florida in the sense that it will entertain even younger kids than the theme park proper since the Peppa Pig franchise is aimed at preschoolers.

More details about the park will be released through the year as the opening draws closer.  You can stay up to date on the Peppa Pig Theme Park's website as well.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Kentucky Kingdom Joins the Herschend Family Entertainment Family of Parks

© Kentucky Kingdom

After a week of much speculation, it has been officially announced that Kentucky Kingdom has become a part of the Herschend Family Entertainment family of parks and attractions.  The park and their new operator held a large press conference to share the news, which can be viewed here on the park's website.

No news about the park's sale price or other transaction details are available at this time since Herschend is a private company, but the press release does note that Herschend has "become a majority partner and operator" of the amusement and water park.  Kentucky Kingdom can now call parks such as Dollywood and Silver Dollar City as siblings, though Herschend has a much larger portfolio than just those well known parks.

“We are pleased to turn the park over to a new generation of leadership.  Herschend is an outstanding operator, who will undoubtedly take Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay to the next level.  We expect their involvement will add greatly to the Commonwealth’s thriving tourism industry,” said Kentucky Kingdom’s founder, President and CEO Ed Hart.


© Kentucky Kingdom

The park will have new leadership immediately as a result of the transaction, with Herschend's Craig Ross assuming the role of the park's General Manager.  Mr. Ross recently served as General Manager of Dollywood for ten years, and saw that park through some ambitious expansion plans.


As for the future of Kentucky Kingdom, Herschend outlined several priorities for the coming years.  These include "building the appeal for multi-generational families; hosting family-friendly seasonal and themed events and festivals; enhancing product and guest experiences through rebranding and the addition of Herschend-owned programming, such as costume character appearances; expanding of the season to provide entertainment to more park guests; and building relationships with state and local tourism partners to increase awareness and entice travel to Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville and the Commonwealth."


Kentucky Kingdom has announced that they will open for the 2021 season on May 8th.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Cedar Point Releases Spring + Summer 2021 Schedule + New Fun for '21

© Cedar Point

Cedar Point has put out a press release that covers the park's plans for their Spring and Summer 2021 season, with any potential fall fun to be revealed at a later time.  The news includes the release of the park's operating calendar for the first two thirds of their season, which will help fans plan their trips.

Cedar Point will continue with their 150th anniversary celebration in 2021, which was largely delayed from the 2020 season.  The fun kicks off June 26th and continues daily through August 15th.  Included in the party is the Celebrate 150 Spectacular parade, which features spectacular floats that travel through the park, which culminates in a big street party with music, dancing, pyrotechnics and more.  Building on new retail and food offerings that took place in 2020, the park has even more new fun planned for the 150th celebration this year.

© Cedar Point

Starting on May 29th visitors will get their first trip on Snake River Expedition, which is new for 2021.  The park has released a couple promotional images of the ride (seen above and up top) and I know we're all anxious to experience the finished product firsthand.  Many fans have longed for the return of boat trips around the park's internal lagoon, myself included.  The ride will feature a cast of live characters along with animated scenes and "danger" around every bend.

© Cedar Point

When the park opens for the season on May 14th guests will be able to enjoy the Frontier Festival, returning again this year with some changes.  Guest will find that "Frontier Town will transform into a Wild West hootenanny, brimming with live music, interactive games for adults and kids, festive d├ęcor, street entertainers and a mouth-watering food and drink menu."  The park's partnership with Prayers From Maria will grow this year, with more sunflowers used as a theme for the festival, including unique merchandise that benefits the organization.  Overall the park's food and beverage will carry a cherry theme this year, with cherries used to create sweet and savory food and beverage.

At the end of the summer season the popular Cedar Point Nights will return as well.  Located on the Cedar Point Beach, the event features evening fun such as live music, games, special food and more. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

New York State Allows Amusement Parks to Reopen Under New Guidelines

© Luna Park

Amusement and theme parks, whether indoor or outdoor, in New York were not allowed to open at all during the 2020 season, but new guidance from the State of New York will allow them to the start planning their 2021 seasons immediately.

The Governor's office has set the earliest date for reopening as March 26th for indoor operations and April 9th for outdoor parks.  Indoor parks will be limited to 25% of their capacity and outdoor parks will be limited to 33% of their capacity.

Each park must submit a set of their protocals for operating during the pandemic before they open their doors, with minimum requirements mirroring what most states did last season.  These include temperature checks for visitors, face coverings for all and social distancing put into place.  Another interesting requirement is that "contact information must be collected from each party to inform contact tracing, if needed" - that could be a logistical nightmare without the use of an app or similar technology.

Luna Park in Coney Island is very excited to reopen this year, and is getting ready to announce their opening date.  The park posted a letter from their CEO that mentions six new attractions geared for the park's youngest guests.

Six Flags Darien Lake has already announced that they will reopen to their guests on May 21st, and The Great Escape will open even earlier on May 1st.