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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Six Flags Shares More on COVID-19 Operating Plans + Frontier City to Reopen June 5th

© Six Flags
Six Flags Entertainment sent out a mega-update today covering their elaborate plans to operate their theme parks in a COVID-19 world.  This is the "new normal," as they put it.

But first, they've also announced their first theme park to reopen, which will be Frontier City on June 5th.  The park will have very limited attendance and will open on June 5th through June 7th only for Members and Season Pass Holders only.  It will then open to all guests and gradually increase the maximum daily attendance throughout the month.  As stated earlier, the park will require the use of a reservation system to visit, and has a host of other information available here.

© Frontier City
“Frontier City, like all Six Flags parks, is an outdoor attraction that poses a significantly lower risk of exposure than indoor venues.  Our guests are not confined to one space for lengthy periods.  Guests move constantly throughout their experience; some are riding rides, some are eating in restaurants, while others are shopping in our souvenir stores, or playing games.  Because our parks cover dozens or even hundreds of acres, we can easily manage guest throughput to achieve proper social distancing,” said Six Flags President and CEO Mike Spanos.

“We have developed a comprehensive reopening safety plan that includes best practices from theme park and waterpark industry experts, along with top destination parks from around the world, which will allow guests to experience our parks in the safest possible way.  This ’new normal’ will be very different, but we believe these additional measures are appropriate in the current environment.”

© Six Flags
Along with the first park in the Six Flags chain to have an opening date set, the company also released a very robust set of standards for operations that meet or in most cases exceed local and government minimums for the safety of workers and visitors.

The plans are so thorough that they've created a 37 point summary of the changes they have implemented, which you can view online as part of Frontier City's reopening news.

© Six Flags
A lot of the programs we have already discussed in previous stories, so I will not go through each point one by one.  Some other things have come up or been clarified for us, though.

For instance, "contact-less IR thermal imaging" will be used to scan guests as they enter the park, a fast way to determine if anyone's temperate is more than 100.4, at which point they need further screening to see if they can enter.

Also guests over the age of two need a face mask that covers their mouth and nose, and it must be worn at all times.  Exceptions will be made on a "case-by-case basis for persons with disabilities, health concerns, religious restrictions, or other circumstances that in Six Flags’ discretion warrant a modification of this face mask requirement."

© Six Flags
The parks will also use new technology to scan bags with no contact to make sure proper safety standards are met.

Souvenir drink bottles, which grew very popular in recent years, will not be refilled, instead a new paper cup will be given.  Guests can then just use that, or put it in their bottle on their own.

This is the first time we've also been able to read the Six Flags Health & Safety Policy, which every guest must adhere to.  If not, Six Flags says that "if at any time Six Flags determines that a guest does not meet the criteria outlined in this policy, Six Flags reserves the right to refuse entry or (if the guest is already in the park) immediately remove the guest from the park.  These actions are at the sole discretion of Six Flags."  That sounds good to me, and I hope that is enforced.

A summary video of the changes and plans was also released today, which has been uploaded to YouTube by Amusement Insiders:

Stay tuned for more Six Flags parks reopening dates, I think there will be plenty over the next few weeks!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Water World in Colorado Staying Closed for 2020 Season

© Water World
While we had some great news over the past few days about parks planning to reopen (or already having reopened), we're still seeing some other properties go in the opposite route.

Located in Colorado, Water World, which is a part of the Hyland Hill Parks & Recreation District, announced that it will not be opening for the 2020 season.  Instead it is telling guests it looks forward to welcoming them for the 2021 season, starting May 23rd, 2021.

The park keeps the safety of their guests as their top priority, and having proper training time to get all their lifeguards ready to go seems to be a big part of the closure.  They note that there is no data that COVID-19 can transfer in treated water, but the state still hasn't given orders that they can reopen.  Instead of waiting for that clearance and then trying to hire and train staff, the park will just stay closed.

© Google Maps
The park has already extended all season passes and tickets to be valid for 2021.  Pass holders will also receive some extra benefits once the park opens next year.

Water World is also teasing what could be a new attraction for 2021, saying that they "have some EXCITING news to share" over the summer.  The park is known for a giant selection of water slides and attractions (seen above), and new additions are usually quite significant.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Round-Up of Recently Announced Park Reopenings

© Lagoon Amusement Park
Lagoon Amusement Park, located in Utah, announced that they will be reopening today, May 23rd.  They received notification from local authorities that they were allowed to open, and wasted no time in doing just that.  The park's water park, Lagoon-A-Beach, is also open.

The park has implemented a reservation system that must be used before visiting, in order to limit attendance.  The system only allows for reservations for the week following the current day, and season pass holders are limited to visits per week.

The park will be requiring visitors to wear a face mask at all times, and they will also ask everyone to sanitize their hands when they enter a ride queue.  Right now the park is following hours of 10 am until 8 pm on Saturdays, and 11 am until 8 pm other days.

© Gatorland
Another long time Orlando area attraction, Gatorland, has also reopened as of today.  The park is heavily promoting their Social Distancing Skunk Ape, a famed "Florida Cryptid" who is cousins with Bigfoot.  He feels very strongly about everyone keeping an appropriate distance and also keeping things clean, and I love it.  If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to learn more about him on this page.

The park is not requiring visitors to wear face masks, just encouraging them to do so.  The park's CEO has written a great deal about the measures they have taken in response to COVID-19.

Gatorland has also very smartly extended their Florida resident half off sale, which should help them attract some curious folks looking to get out of the house.

© Alabama Adventure
Alabama Adventure amusement park and Splash Adventure water park are planning to open on May 30th, if all goes well.  After announcing that opening date the county they are located in passed their own extension of stay at home orders, however as of today it seems the park has clarified that they can open and as such is back to planning to reopen on the 30th.  Regardless, the stay at home was only extended by one week so worse case is an opening around June 6th.

There isn't a lot on the park's website about specific changes that will take place in response to COVID-19, though as a small family run park we hope that they will double down on the safety of their workers and guests.

© Magic Springs
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park, located in Arkansas, has announced their reopening for June 1st.  The park will be limiting attendance to 30% of maximum occupancy for the theme park, and 50% of the maximum occupancy for the water park.

As a benefit the park will be offering season pass holders some extras, including $10 to spend in the park, extra bring a friend free passes and monthly discounts via coupons.

Magic Springs will not require reservations to visit the park, and they do encourage guests to purchase tickets online ahead of time.  It sounds like tickets can be purchased at the gate as well.  The park will not require face masks for outdoor parts of the property, but they are required to enter indoor food and retail locations.

The park is also asking guests to be patient as social distancing initiatives will create longer lines, all in the name of safety.

© Quassy Amusement P ark
Connecticut, home of Quassy Amusement Park and Waterpark, has announced that amusement parks will be able to open on June 20th.  As such, the park is already diving into hiring for the park's summer season, which is expected to start on that day.

Since this is a very recent development and the opening is still several weeks away, the park's website does not yet reflect much in the way of changes related to COVID-19.  I'm sure that as the official opening date draws closer the park will have more information to share.

© Indiana Beach
It wasn't long ago that we found out that Indiana Beach was being saved, and now we know that the park is planning to open for the 2020 season on June 27th.

The park is still hard at work building a new website, so we don't have any specifics yet related to COVID-19 changes that may be required.  Between trying to actually get the gates open again and all the work that comes with it, the new owners are probably about as busy as they can be these days.

Also of note, if you're interested in getting into Indiana Beach one day early the park is having a VIP Party on June 26th.  You'll have to purchase a VIP ticket along with a brick paver that will be installed at the park.  More information on that is available here.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Several Florida Parks & Attractions Announce Reopening Plans and Dates

© Universal Orlando Resort
Some of the biggest news in the reopening of parks in the U.S. just broke, and that is that the Universal Orlando Resort will be reopening on June 5th.

The plan includes the two theme parks and one water park reopening, and details on the hotel resorts reopening will be announced soon.  Technically, the parks will open on June 1st already.  Both the 1st and 2nd will be for employees only to get used to new policies and procedures.  Then the 3rd and 4th will be invited guests only, to control attendance.  The 5th is open to the general public.

The resort will focus on "screening, spacing and sanitization."  Visitor will pass through a temperature check area after arriving, and are required to wear a face mask.  The park will reduce attendance, but not use a reservation system.  Obviously there will be full social distancing in place, along with strict cleaning standards including asking visitors to use hand sanitizer before entering ride vehicles.

Initially, the two theme parks will operate from 9 am to 6 pm daily, the water park from 10 am to 5 pm and CityWalk from 8 am to 10 pm.

© Fun Spot America
Elsewhere in Orlando, Fun Spot America just got approval to reopen and then did exactly that, today at 2 pm.

At this point most of the social distancing and cleaning standards at parks that are reopening are just that... standards, so no need to list them all individually each time.  However, it is worth noting that Fun Spot American is only doing temperature checks on employees each day, and they do not require a face mask while visiting the park - just encourage it.

Fun Spot America will update on their property in Kissimmee at a later date.  For now, the Orlando park will be open daily from noon until 10 pm.

© Legoland Florida
The Legoland Florida Resort has also revealed that they will welcome back guests starting on June 1st.  Both the theme park and water park will open, along with the existing hotel and the brand new Pirate Island Hotel.

The property will not require face masks, will do temperature checks, and is advertising that they will go entire cashless, accepting payments with cards only.  On their FAQ page for their reopening, they do say that they will limit attendance, but it does not appear that any type of reservation is needed.

With this momentum now going, I'm sure that we will hear from the other big Orlando Players - Disney and SeaWorld - next week.