Monday, June 1, 2020

South Dakota's New RMC Raptor Coaster Delayed to 2021

© Wild Water West
Wild Water West, a water park located in South Dakota, surprised us all earlier in the year by revealing that they were planning on building one of Rocky Mountain Construction's Raptor track roller coasters.  The park received permission to build the ride, which will be their largest major non-water amusement attraction, and initially construction would have started in April for the ride to be open some time in August.

The pandemic had other plans, however, and with that construction timeline no longer possible the park has announced that they are delaying the new coaster until 2021.  The park plans to start construction this fall, so that the ride is ready to open with the park next year.

This story notes that the park was signing the contracts for the coaster when the pandemic began, and the manufacturer had to do some furloughs which also contributed to the delayed timeline.

While disappointing, it's certainly understandable that a smaller park like this takes a little time to breath before taking on a coaster that will elevate it to a new level for visitors.  The Rocky Mountain Construction Raptor rides are some of the most intense compact coasters out there, and Wild Water West visitors are in for a thrill in 2021!

Wild Water West has already opened for the 2020 season, with plenty of COVID-19 changes in place to keep employees and visitors safe.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Busch Gardens Tampa to Open June 11th

© Busch Gardens Tampa
After receiving approval from the state over this weekend, Busch Gardens Tampa has been cleared to reopen on June 11th.  That will come after a preview day for employees on June 10th, which is similar to what SeaWorld Orlando is planning.

Fingers crossed that Iron Gwazi will be able to open soon!  We know the park was testing it before the pandemic closure, so construction of the ride was very far along.  There were also some billboards put up right as the park closed advertising that the ride was open, so obviously we were really, really close to seeing that coaster open to guests.

The park got its final approval over this weekend so the park's website hasn't really been updated yet, so we will have to wait for more information on Iron Gwazi.  It's certainly one of the most anticipated new coasters of 2020, advertised as the North America's tallest and the world's fastest and steeped hybrid roller coaster.

As for changes to the park, it appears as though at least initially all SeaWorld Entertainment parks will have the same COVID-19 practices in place.  That means Busch Gardens Tampa will be the same as SeaWorld Orlando, more information on their plans can be found here.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Cedar Fair Shares More Info on Park Operations Once They Reopen

© Cedar Fair
We only know so far that Cedar Fair's two Schlitterbahn parks in Texas plan to reopen in mid-June, and the rest of the company's parks are still waiting on local governments to give them the go ahead to open.  While those details are worked out, Cedar Fair has sent out more detailed news on how they plan to operate their parks in the 'new normal' pandemic world.

Most of the changes they detailed are related to the use of new technology and the parks' existing mobile apps to "enable a safe and efficient park reopening experience for its guests and associates."  The changes will affect how visitors plan and prepare for their trips, when they arrive at the park and throughout their stay.

Before arrival guests will make required reservations online or through the park's app, picking a specific arrival time on the day of their choice.  This will allow parks to limit attendance to keep in line with state and local health guidelines.  Once booked, guests will get a "time-bound entry voucher" that will show in the park's app.  The apps themselves will be beefed up to inform guests of changes at the parks due to the pandemic.  Additionally, season passes will be able to be processed in the app instead of in person at the park.

Arriving at the park will require an "initial health check," and guests with the park's app can complete most of the health questionnaire prior to visiting.  No details on the rest of the process, such as a possible temperature screening, were revealed.  Additionally, face mask rules were not covered here the news was mostly related to technological changes.

While in the park a focus will be placed on cashless payment methods to limit interaction, "reduce touchpoints and expenses, as well as improve efficiency and throughput."  Mobile food ordering via the app is being started at 4 parks in 2020, though which parks was not stated.

The app will also be used to "monitor potential overcrowding in various areas of the park throughout the day; this will help determine where to deploy crowd control measures and enable appropriate social distancing.  These modules will also direct guests to the closest hand sanitizing stations."  I have to wonder if a certain part of a park gets too crowded, if the app will alert guests to move on to another area?

Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said, “The safety of our guests and associates has always been, and will always be, our highest priority.  I’m pleased that our internal health and safety experts, as well as state and local government officials, have informed the development and implementation of these technology enhancements which, when combined with our other in-park safety procedures being implemented, should help renew the public’s confidence when visiting our parks.  Our more robust suite of mobile technologies not only strengthens the safety measures recommended by health officials, but also offers exciting, guest-friendly alternatives that could very well enhance the overall guest experience for the long term,” said Zimmerman.

Hopefully the coming week will reveal which of the chain's amusement parks will be the first to reopen under these guidelines!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Another Round of Park Reopening Announcements

© Kentucky Kingdom
I like posting these!  Here are the latest parks to officially announce reopening dates.  There are several more who are in states that have clarified when parks can open, but we prefer to wait to hear from the parks directly.

Up first is Kentucky Kingdom, which will reopen to visitors for the 2020 season on June 29th.  The water park, Hurricane Bay, will open soon after that.  While more details will come as the opening date nears, for now the park is saying that it "will operate with enhanced sanitizing and cleaning procedures and safety protocols to provide the best possible protection of guests and team members during the current coronavirus crisis."

Also, as a huge plus to the public, they have lowered their gate prices to $29.95 and 2020 season passes are only $49.95.  For people who already purchased 2020 seasons passes (they say there are 15K of them), they have made those passes also valid for the 2021 season.  Nice!

© Aquatica San Antonio
Aquatica San Antonio, located adjacent to SeaWorld San Antonio, will open on June 6th, the park has just announced.  Right now water parks are allowed to open in Texas, but not theme parks so SeaWorld San Antonio will have to open later.

The park has spent the past two months creating a full plan of how to operate the park safely, and they can't wait to welcome guests back and show them a good time.

This news is so new that the park's website isn't even updated yet, but watch for details soon.  The park has also confirmed that their new attraction, Tonga Twister, will be open for visitors on June 6th.

© Arnold's Park
Arnold's Park, located in Iowa, is a small classic lakeside park operation and it's wonderful to see that they are planning on reopening on June 3rd.  We've seen some parks of this size opt to not operate in 2020, so it's nice to see that Arnold's Park hasn't had to go in that direction.

The park hasn't set up a dedicated page that details any changes that have come from the pandemic.  However they have stated on social media that they are setting up a full set of new safety and cleaning procedures to cover the entire property.

For now visitors can look forward to rides on the classic Legend wooden coaster in just a short while!

© Bay Beach Amusement Park
Bay Beach Amusement Park, located up in Wisconsin, is planning to open for the 2020 season on June 26th.  They would like to hold two test days, on June 20th and 21st, with tickets being sold first come first served on those days.  So long as those practice days go well, the park intends to fully open on the 26th.

The purpose of the two test days is to make sure that the elaborate safety plan that has been put into place will work properly with visitors.  I'm sure the park will have no problem finding people who want to come out for the test and try out the Zippin Pippin for the first time this year!

The Park at OWA, located in Alabama, will welcome back guests starting June 5th.  The amusement park is one of the anchor attractions at OWA, along with a large downtown shopping and dining area. 

A whole set of guidelines for visiting the park have been published, available at this link.  Face masks will not be required, but strongly encouraged.  They will do temperature screenings at the entrance, and strictly enforce social distancing throughout the park and while on the rides.

Additionally, the park will be limiting attendance levels like we've seen with many other parks.  As such, they will be selling a non-rider wrist band for $5.00 in order to keep track of the total number of guests on site.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Conneaut Lake Park Will Not Open in 2020

© Conneaut Lake Park
Sadly, Conneaut Lake Park has announced that they will not be opening for the 2020 season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  The park has been on a great upswing in recent seasons, but it still technically in a state of bankruptcy with very limited resources.  That status means the park has to work carefully with creditors for normal year business operations, and the stresses of the pandemic have really turned things upside down for them.

Preparing the park to operate safely for the pandemic adds a lot of costs, and on top of that Conneaut says that the state hasn't even made things clear for them.  Conneaut reports that Pennsylvania hasn't specifically said that amusement parks can open in the "green" phase, and even if they can it is at 50% capacity.  Conneaut has open gates and no way to accurately track how full they are.

Plus, they point out that they are trying to get out of bankruptcy by having packed midways, and plans to combat the virus mean exactly the opposite of that.  They would have a hard time finding financial success in that scenario, so they will sit this year out.

For those who purchased season passes for the rides or water park, they will be automatically made valid for the 2021 season.  They are also offering refunds if that is not desired.

Let's hope that this park, and others that are staying closed, do return for 2021!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Reopening Dates Planned for Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando + First Cedar Fair Parks to Open

© Disney
Some major announcements came today with regard to parks reopening, the largest of which is Walt Disney World in Orlando starting to reopen on July 11th (pending final approval from Florida's Governor).  On that day both the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open, and a few days later on July 15th both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot will welcome back guests.

The property has paused new ticket sales and hotel reservations in order to focus on guests with existing tickets and hotel plans - this includes annual passholders.  Guests will need to utilize a reservation system in order to visit the parks to control crowding - the park's attendance will be limited as expected.

The parks will hold off on holding shows, parades and fireworks for now, since these events create crowd gathering situations.  Face masks for anyone aged 3 and up will be required across the entire resort, except for when people are eating or swimming, and touchless temperature checks will be used.

Walt Disney World is a gigantic property, and arguably the largest park (set of parks) reopening that this country will see.  To that end everyone has a lot of questions about the property's 'new normal' so be sure to check out this site for some additional details.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
SeaWorld Orlando has also detailed their plans to reopen their park, which they hope to do on June 11th.  The park would like to hold an employee appreciation/test day on June 10th as well.

The park appears be waiting for final approval from the Governor until they update their website with official plans, however several sites are covering information from their presentation today.  The park will require guests aged two and a half and older to wear a mask, and will also utilize temperature screenings.  Interestingly, they do still plan to have parades though all guest interaction will be removed from them.

The reopening plans include Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove - all properties will have strict social distancing markers in place to keep guests spaced out.  That is an especially big concern for animal exhibits, where visitors commonly gather.

Expect to see more from the park with regard to their full plan as soon as they receive final approval.

© Cedar Fair
It also looks as though we have our first set of Cedar Fair parks to open, the recently purchased Schlitterbahn New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Galveston.

No specific dates have been set yet for these two water parks to reopen, but the parks did post this today:

"We are pleased that Governor Abbott’s reopening plans now include waterparks. The safety of our guests and associates has always been, and will always be, our top priority.  Schlitterbahn is preparing to reopen our properties mid-June with enhanced safety measures and operational changes throughout both of our parks. We miss you and cannot wait to welcome you back to the Hottest, Coolest Time in Texas."

Unless another Cedar Fair park makes an announcement soon, it seems that these parks opening in "mid-June" could be the first for the company.