Friday, June 5, 2020

Dollywood + Six Flags Parks in Texas Provide Reopening Dates

© Dollywood
Similar to Silver Dollar City's recent announcement, Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country let fans know that they will reopen to the public on June 17th, with two season passholder days on June 15th and 16th.  Further, Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa will open on June 10th.

The park's COVID-19 plan looks very similar to the one that Silver Dollar City released, and is available to check out at this link.  

Like its sister park, Dollywood will be utilizing temperature screenings, require face masks, and limiting attendance.  Passholders will reserve a date to visit and other tickets will be sold only for the date that a guests wishes to attend.

Dollywood's new Flower and Food Festival will be held this summer, with more information to come.

Six Flags' Texas parks have been given the green light to open, and they're planning on doing so in just a couple weeks.

© Six Flags
Six Flags Fiesta Texas will kick off their season on June 19th, when members and season pass holders can visit the park.  That extends through the 21st of June, after which the general public my purchase tickets.  As stated earlier, all guests must have a reservation to visit the park, and abide by all safety regulations that Six Flags has put in place.  We've covered all of Six Flags' changes previously, so we will not repeat them each time a park reopens.

Also of note, the park's website is still showing the park's 2019 attraction on the "what's new" page, so it is still not clear if they intend to open Dare Devil Dive this year or not.

© Six Flags
Six Flags Over Texas is also opening on June 19th for members and season pass holders, then the general public on June 22nd.  Same as with Fiesta Texas, reservations will be required in order to visit the park.

Right now, the park's new water splash ride, Aquaman Power Wave, is still listed on the "what's new" tab, though it is not clear if the ride will be ready when the park opens.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Six Flags chain will also open Hurricane Harbor on June 18th.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Silver Dollar City To Reopen to the Public on June 15th

© Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City has announced that they will reopen to the general public on June 15th, following two days of exclusive operations for season pass holders.  The park's nearby water park, White Water, will open on June 17th also following two season pass holder exclusive days.  Finally, the Showboat Branson Belle will open on June 20th.

To monitor safety at the theme park, a variety of changes will be implemented.  You can read more about them in detail on the park's website.

The park will require season pass holders to reserve a date for their visit, and day-ticket visitors will have tickets that are only valid for the day they choose.  This will allow the park to monitor attendance.  Physical distancing will be in full effect across the park, including in stores, food areas, and on rides.  Indoor theaters and indoor play areas will remain closed for the time being.

© Silver Dollar City
Temperature checks will be done prior to entering the park, and both guests aged three and up and employees will have to wear masks.  Of course, the park will be cleaning and sanitizing all areas frequently throughout the day.

I don't see any update on the park's website as to whether or not their new water ride, Mystic River Falls, will be operating on the 15th.  The park has only shared some small tidbits of the ride in the off-season, prior to the pandemic, so it's hard to tell exactly how far along the ride is.  We won't have long to wait to find out, though!

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.