Monday, June 29, 2020

Disney Parks in the U.S. to Retheme Splash Mountain to "The Princess and the Frog"

© Disney
Some rumors in recent weeks had hinted at Disney considering a retheme of Splash Mountain at its U.S. parks for months now, and it turns out that is exactly their plan.  In light of recent events the march of social change has reached many corporate levels, refreshing indeed, and in this case it made its way to a log ride in two Disney Parks in Florida and California.

Splash Mountain was themed around "The Song Of The South," a Disney film from the 1940s that contains plenty of racial stereotypes set in the plantation era South.  Disney put away the movie for good a few decades ago, but the ride's characters and music are still based off the film.

In the announcement on the Disney Parks Blog they explain that the rethemed rides will "pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance."

"Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important.  It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou."

The retheme of the ride is still a work in progress, and both Splash Mountains are scheduled to reopen in their current form when the parks welcome guests back.  The work is being led by Imagineer Charita Carter and Tony Baxter, who led the original Splash Mountain project, will join as a creative advisor.

This story from the Orange County Register has some additional details on the transformation that is worth checking out.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Kings Island Releases Orion POV Ahead of 2020 Park Opening

© Kings Island
Are you excited for Kings Island's new giga coaster, Orion?  Many people are, and while many new-for-2020 roller coasters have been pushed to 2021, Kings Island is still opening Orion this year - in just a handful of days now!

To celebrate the park's reopening and the ride's debut they have released the official point of view ride on Orion, embedded here and available on the park's blog:

Orion features a 287 foot tall lift hill, followed by a 300 foot drop that gives the ride its "giga" distinction.  Featuring a top speed of 91 miles per hour, Orion's track stretches 5,321 feet long and a total of 8 hills.

Kings Island will only be open to season pass holders for a while after they open, and reservations are going pretty fast.  The park's first two days are already full, but there are some spots left for this coming Saturday!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

More Park Reopenings, Delays and Details Announced for Parks in U.S.

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is not yet allowed to operate as a full amusement park, however local officials have allowed zoo attractions to reopen.  The park is taking advantage of this fact to reopen at the Marine World Experience, a throwback to when the park opened as a zoological experience in 1986.  The Marine World Experience will open to pass holders and member on July 2nd and 3rd, and then to all guests July 4th.

The park will offer their wide variety of animal exhibits and encounters but it is important to know that zero of their rides will be operating while the park is the Marine World Experience.  If the state allows the park to open as an amusement park this year they will proceed with that.

The park will be following all other Six Flags properties in terms of COVID-19 response, including increasing cleaning standards, the use of face masks, a reservation system, social distancing and more.  

© Six Flags America
Six Flags American has also announced that they will reopen soon.  The park will welcome back pass holders and members on July 1st and 2nd, with all guests welcome starting July 3rd.  The park's COVID-19 response is the same as all Six Flags parks, with full details of the plan available at this link.  Important to know before you go, the park requires reservations for your visit.

New for 2020 at the park was scheduled to be Harley Quinn Spinsanity, which I believe was constructed at the park but is no longer listed anywhere on the website.  The new for 2020 link gives a denied access warning, and the attraction is not listed among all the rides.  I wouldn't expect the ride to open in 2020.

© Knoebels
Pennsylvania's Knoebels has announced a July 1st reopening date.  The park has been working hard to get the park ready and have enough staff hired, so for the first few weeks the park's hours will be noon until 8pm.  Additionally, they will only use individual tickets for rides, they will not have all day wrist bands available.

Since the park has no gates they will manage capacity through the parking lot - if necessary as they put it.  They are also doing more employee training, putting up barriers between employees and guests, increasing cleaning efforts and more.  They just made the announcement, and promise more details on visiting the park will be posted next week.

© Disneyland
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure previously announced that they would reopen starting July 17th, but the parks have now announced that those dates will not happen.

The state of California will not issue full details on how and when parks can open until after July 4th, which means there is not enough time to prepare the parks to open for the 17th Disney says.  They have also had a lot of pressure from their unions to do better COVID-19 testing and prevention before opening as cases of the virus in California continue to spike.

They still plan to open Downtown Disney, which has shopping and dining, on July 8th.  But for now the parks do not have a clear reopening date.

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point is still planning on opening on July 9th and 10th for season pass holders, then also for resort guests on July 11th.  They have launched their full mini-site that gives details on visiting the park this year with regard to COVID-19.  You can read through the very thorough amount of information here.

They also published a new blog post that gives some more granular details.  The park will have no early entry this year - and also daily park hours of 11 am to 8 pm have been posted.  Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island, Snoopy Bounce and Snake River Falls will not operate in 2020.  They have also decided not to open their water park, Cedar Point Shores, in 2020.  They will also not sell any new Fast Lane wrist bands this year, however if you already purchased one it will be valid.  Finally, smoking will be banned inside the park, can guests must exit the park to smoke - this is actually something we are hearing that will be true at all Cedar Fair parks in 2020.

© Six Flags
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, located in Texas, was supposed to open on June 29th but due to rising COVID-19 cases in Texas it no longer will.  The reopening has been postponed indefinitely.  The park is located in Harris County, which just recently put into place a brand new stay at home advisory to try to control the spread of the virus.  I believe this is the first time we've seen a park plan to reopen but have to stay closed due to orders of their local officials.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Dorney Park to Open July 8th + 4th of July Drive-In Fireworks Announced

Dorney Park has announced that it will open for the 2020 season on July 8th, for season pass holders only, then starting on July 11th for all guests.  Reservations to visit the park will begin on June 30th.

“We are very excited to share our park with our guests for the 2020 operating season.  Safety will always be Dorney Park’s number one priority, and that includes the health of our guests and associates,” said Michael Fehnel, vice president and general manager at Dorney Park. “Our new protocols align with CDC recommendations and have been shaped by information from company and industry health and safety experts, along with our state and local government officials.  With our new protocols in place, we are eager to bring some long-overdue fun.”

The park has not determined an opening date for Wildwater Kingdom just yet.

© Dorney Park
Dorney Park has created a set of new safety and cleaning standards that are meant to protect guests, employees and vendors while at the park.  They include:

- A new online reservation system; each guest is required to have a reservation prior to their visit to enable capacity management;
- A requirement to complete a pre-visit health screening declaration 24 hours prior to admission;
- A touchless temperature screening prior to entering the facility for vendors, guests, and park associates;
- Requirements for all guests, associates and vendors to wear face coverings as directed by the protocols;
- Social distancing markers throughout the park, including ride queue lines;
- Limited guest/associate contact;
- Enhanced cleaning procedures, including additional deep cleaning and sanitization of restrooms, dining facilities and other busy areas;
- Additional hand sanitation stations; and
- Capacity management throughout the park.

© Dorney Park
All visitors should download the park's app to help plan their visit and stay aware of necessary updates throughout the day.  As a reminder, Dorney Park season passes for 2020 will be valid for all of 2021 as well.

The park has posted hours of operation, which of course are subject to change at any time, which reflect a new operating schedule of being open from 11 am until 7 pm each day.  Daily operation continues until August 30th, then park has Labor Day weekend hours after which it is shown as closed the rest of September.  There are no hours currently posted for October.  Again, this is all subject to possible changes.

© Dorney Park
Dorney Park has also announced that they will hold 4th of July Drive-In Fireworks, continuing the long tradition of a fireworks show at the park for the holiday.  For a donation of $10 (benefiting the Lehigh Valley Health Network's COVID-19 Emergency Fund) up to 1,500 cars can enter the parking lot for an awesome view of the show.  The fireworks will be synchronized to patriotic music, which can be tuned in on 95.1 FM WZZO.

The park will also have several food trucks on site for the event, and the lot opens at 7:30 pm.  To get your ticket and for more details, click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure Announces July 3rd Opening

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure has announced that its theme park will reopen to visitors starting on July 3rd.  That day will be reserved for just season pass holders and Members, and starting July 4th the park will be open to all guests.

New Jersey's Governor, Phil Murphy, just recently released opening guidelines for amusement parks and in accordance with that Six Flags Great Adventure will operate with reduce attendance levels for now.  Attendance will be heavily restricted on the first days that the park opens, and then gradually be increased as the month progresses.

Six Flags Great Adventure is "implementing extensive new safety measures and hygiene protocols, including several new advanced technology systems to protect guests and employees.  These procedures will be adjusted on an as-needed basis to ensure compliance with state recommendations."

© Six Flags Great Adventure
“Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor are beloved outdoor destinations for so many in the Northeast, and we look forward to welcoming families back to our parks.  The safety of our guests and team members remains our number one priority, and the new safety guidelines we have put in place are designed to create a safe environment for everyone,” said Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor Park President John Winkler.

As we have seen with other Six Flags theme park re-openings, Great Adventure will utilize an online reservation system to manage attendance, allowing guests to schedule their visit ahead of time.  This will also stagger their arrival times to limit crowding.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The park's other changes include the use of thermal imaging for temperature checks, touchless bag checks, mobile food ordering, sanitization, hygiene and social distancing protocols developed in consultation with epidemiologists, health screening and team members and guests and the mandatory use of face masks for guests aged 3 and up.

More information on the park's reopening plan can be found at this link.
The property has also clarified that the Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure will continue operating the same as it has since reopening May 30th, 2020.  The park has noted that its popularity and inherent social distancing qualities have led to the operational decision, though they aim "to reintroduce the Safari Off Road Adventure guided truck tours soon."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Cedar Point to Host Light Up The Point on July 4th

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point may not be opening to guests until July 9th (season pass holders only July 9th and 10th, allowing resort guests starting July 11th), but that isn't stopping them from celebrating July 4th with many of their fans.

The park will hold Light Up The Point on the 4th of July, a grand fireworks show that will be choreographed to patriotic music.  Visitors can watch the show from Cedar Point's parking lot, safely and socially distanced in their own vehicles.  The music can be tuned in to on Sandusky's local radio station 102.7 FM.

Admission costs $20, however all proceeds are going to charity, a wonderful idea in these tough times.  The park will be supporting the Sandusky State Theater, OH Go and Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.  You can learn more about these organizations on Cedar Point's website for the event.

The parking lot tollbooths will open at 8:00 pm on the 4th of July, with the big show starting at 10:00 pm.  If interested, make sure to purchase your ticket now, as they will not be available at the park and are expected to sell out!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Several More Parks Reopen, Announce Reopening Dates + One Closes Again

© Canobie Lake Park
Canobie Lake park will be able to start its 2020 season on July 16th, it has announced.  The park is still planning all the changes they will have in place with regard to COVID-19, but they do list on their update page that their 'new normal' will include a reservation system, plenty of new health and safety protocols and social distancing throughout the property.

They had previously announced that all 2020 ticket products, including season passes, will be valid for all of the 2021 season as well.

© Camden Park
West Virginia's Camden Park has been doing togo orders of their famous amusement park food for quite some time now, and just recently was able to reopen their mini golf course to guests as well.  The classic amusement park is now slated to open fully on July 1st, and have updated their scheduled hours accordingly.

The park's website does not cover any COVID-19 specific changes, but this news story points out that the West Virginia Governor's plan for reopening mandates that the park limits attendance, creates upgraded cleaning standards and employs social distancing. 

© Lake Winnepesaukah
Lake Winnepesaukah just opened today for the first time in 2020, however right now the park's Phase 1 opening includes only the SoakYa water park.  As of today, the park does not have an estimate as to when they will be able to reopen their amusement park side of things.

In order to limit daily attendance, the park is now selling tickets for specific dates only.  They are strongly encouraging, though not requiring, face masks for guests.  The park has set up a full page of change and policies that will be in place now that they are open, available here.

© Wonderland Amusement Park

Texas' Wonderland Amusement Park planned to open yesterday, but got rained out, so today was the official opening day of the 2020 season.

The park is taking safety as seriously as you'd expect, and has implemented temperature screenings for all employees, created "clean teams" to rove the park, put social distancing into place throughout the grounds and will have plenty of sanitizing stations around the park.  They are strongly encouraging visitors to wear face masks at all times, but it not technically required. 

© Arnold's Park
Iowa's Arnold's Park just reopened for 2020 on June 3rd, and decided to close once again on June 13th due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in their area.  The park explains that they are one that is built for the community and as such it bears a responsibility to its guests, and in light of that they are temporarily closing for a while.  No date for reopening as been set, as I would assume that will be determined by the trend of COVID-19 cases in the area.

This is the first parks in the U.S. that we've seen do this, and the way things appear to be going it certainly may not be the last.  Time will tell... and probably soon!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Adventureland's New Coaster to be a S&S 4-D Freespin

© Adventureland
I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to this story, as shortly after Adventureland in Iowa started to tease their 2021 new coaster (like the above image) some photos of it surfaced that made the addition crystal clear.

Here is an example of recent photos of the new ride's pieces sitting at the park from MidwestinfoGuide - the park is building a new S&S Freespin roller coaster.  The track, which is a brilliant red color, and the supports are a perfect match for S&S' other 4-D Freespin roller coasters, many of which can be found at your local Six Flags park.

Adventureland is removing their Dragon roller coaster in order to build the new ride - rumored to be named Dragon Slayer.  While we can be pretty darn sure that the ride will be a 4-D Freespin, there is still a chance that it won't have the exact layout as the existing Freespins.  Originally S&S sold the rides in different sizes, though we've mostly seen exact clones go up in the U.S. so far.

Adventureland is on quite the expansion kick lately, as their 2021 coaster will be their 3rd in just six seasons.  Maybe that is not a lot when compared to the almost gratuitous amount of coasters that went up at parks in the U.S. in the 1990s/early 2000s, but for recent times it is quite a lot of capital to spend in a relatively short amount of time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Bourne Stuntacular Now in Previews at Universal Studios Florida

© Universal Orlando
Now that both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure have reopened to the public, the resort has started to make strides to 'pick up where they left off,' you could say.  Granted the operations of the resort are quite different than they were three months ago and will stay that way for a while, but one of the projects that was entering the home stretch before the pandemic began was their new Bourne Stuntacular show at Universal Studios Florida.

The attraction is the highly anticipated replacement for T2-3D: Battle Across Time, which was a longtime fan favorite for visitors.  The new Bourne Stuntacular is a live action stunt show that dazzles audiences with a combination of modern technology and thrilling stunts.

The park's description fills us in nicely:  "Through a cutting-edge fusion of stagecraft and film, you follow our hero Jason Bourne across three continents as sinister characters pursue him, hoping to bring him in. He dangles from a helicopter in Dubai before taking off on a thrilling car chase. You’ll see his acrobatic prowess as he’s chased across rooftops in Tangier. He’s pursued on his motorcycle through Virginia by both cops and villainous operatives. There are fistfights, shootouts and danger at every turn, all told in a perfectly synchronized execution that makes it impossible for your eye to discern where the live action ends and the screen begins."

The new show has started opening to the public for limited test performances ahead of its grand opening - the date for which has not yet been revealed.  The park is working hard to manage crowds who are interested in checkout out their latest and greatest, per this article they are actively managing guests waiting for the show and also limiting the amount of seats filled in the show.  Face masks are required to be worn by all guests while in the theater.

You can find some additional spoiler-free images and details of the Bourne Stuntacular in this story from Attractions Magazine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

SeaWorld Entertainment Showing Signs of Delaying 2020 Rides Until 2021

© SeaWorld Entertainment
We haven't had a good confirmation yet from most of the SeaWorld Entertainment parks about whether or not they would still be opening their new-for-2020 rides this year, or pushing them back until 2021.  This is of course with the exception of the Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio, which has already opened.

Some recent developments have me thinking they are looking to open the new rides (most of which are roller coasters) next year.

Social media has been buzzing the last couple days with news of a multitude of liens being placed on the company, many of which are coming out of Florida.  The liens are being placed by contractors and other vendors that have done work for the company but not been paid for it, some have even escalated into lawsuits against SeaWorld.

The Orlando Sentinel has published a story on the liens, which they report total $16 million in Orange County, Florida alone.   They include Rocky Mountain Construction still being owed $3.5 million for Iron Gwazi, and Premier Rides owed $2.7 million for Ice Breaker.  Out in California they have been sued for non-payment of work done for SeaWorld San Diego's new Emperor dive coaster.  I have not heard of any recent news related to Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, though I've also not seen any parks in Virginia be allowed to reopen or even set a date to reopen.
© SeaWorld Orlando

It sounds like although SeaWorld Entertainment technically has the funds to pay these bills, they're holding off until the parks open and they start to generate revenue again.  At least they try to politely say that in the Sentinel story.  However, that's a hard financial crush on all the vendors who still have to make ends meet and employ good people regardless - hopefully the company makes this right, and soon.

But the point of all that is that the parks that have reopened, like SeaWorld Orlando, are not showing any progress on these new for 2020 rides and if the vendors aren't being paid you can be sure they're not showing up to help, either.

As such it feels like the rides that were supposed to all be open by now very well may be new for 2021 rides, or at the least open much later in this year.  While all the new rides are exciting to have at the parks, that would probably sadly include Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa, easily one of the most anticipated new coasters of the year.

Honestly, the delay makes sense.  With attendance levels still capped for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, it makes no sense to open a ride that is built to draw in tons and tons of visitors.  There's really no bang for the park's buck in that sense... however it doesn't justify not paying the companies who helped create it.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Hersheypark + Candymonium Coaster Opening July 3rd

© Hersheypark
Hersheypark has been given the green light by the state of Pennsylvania to open, and quickly announced plans to welcome back visitors.  The park will open for season pass holders on July 1st and 2nd, then open to the public on July 3rd.

As with other large attractions, Hersheypark has also unveiled a set of substantial changes that will be in place in order to follow regulates by the CDC and state officials.  These include touchless temperature screenings upon entering the park, the requirement of face masks to be work by guests and employees, and a reservation system that will be used to monitor attendance levels.

© Hersheypark
The Boardwalk, which is Hersheypark's water park area, will also be opening alongside the theme park.  Other attractions associated with the Hershey Resort, such as Chocolate World, are already operating with restrictions in place.

The park has also made it clear that they plan to open Candymonium, their new B&M hyper coaster, on July 3rd as well.  The ride is the most thrilling addition to the park's new Chocolatetown expansion, which is a massive transformation of the park's entrance area.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Disneyland Resort, Lake Compounce, Kennywood and Idlewild all Share Plans to Reopen

© Disneyland
The Disneyland Resort is the first Southern California theme park resort to announce when they plan to reopen, having made their major announcement yesterday.  The property still need final approval from the state, but plan to open both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on July 17th.

The Downtown Disney District, full of shopping and dining experiences, plans to open much sooner on July 9th.  It won't be until July 23rd when both Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel reopen to guests.

The Disneyland Resort has a massive annual pass base, one that will require the parks to very actively control attendance when they reopen.  It makes sense to me not to try to attract hotel guests until after the parks are open a bit, and some of the annual pass holders get their visits in.

The resort will follow the protocols that we saw the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida put in place when they announced their reopening, which is also toward the middle of July.  In California that includes required reservations to control attendance, the use of face masks, and for them even the pausing of selling and renewing annual passes to limit crowds.

This announcement should hopefully help other Southern California parks, such as Legoland, SeaWorld San Diego, Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain firm up their reopening dates.

© Palace Entertainment
Three of Palace Entertainment's theme parks have also revealed their opening dates as well.

Kennywood will start on July 6th with a friends and family day, then operate July 7th through 10th for season pass holders, then open to the public on July 11th.  Lake Compounce is opening for season pass holders from July 1st through the 5th, then the general public on the 6th of July.  Idlewild Park will open for season pass holders from July 7th through 10th, then the general public on the 11th.

All three parks are planning very similar changes due to COVID-19.  These include mandatory reservations to visit the park, temperature screenings upon entrance, and required face masks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Six Flags St. Louis to Reopen on June 22nd

© Six Flags St. Louis
Continuing the trend of parks announcing reopening dates, next up we have Six Flags St. Louis which will open their gates for the 2020 season on June 22nd.  June 22nd through June 25th will be only for pass holders and members, then the general public my attend starting on June 26th.

Reservations to visit Six Flags St. Louis will open on June 11th for the highest tiers of memberships, the phase over the following days down to lower levels.  As with all Six Flags parks, reservations must be made ahead of time in order to visit the park.

An opening date for the property's water park, Hurricane Harbor, has not been announced yet.

© Six Flags St. Louis
As for the park's new for 2020 attraction, Catwoman Whip, it is still listed on the park's What's New page.  However, there is no actual information about the attraction or when it might open, at least for me, instead there is an advertisement for season passes from last Labor Day.

So it's not clear if the park has been working on the ride to have it ready for opening, or exactly what the status is. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Cedar Fair Announces the Reopening of Cedar Point, Kings Island, World of Fun and Schlitterbahn Parks

© Cedar Fair
We've been anxiously waiting to hear from Cedar Fair on the reopening of some of their parks, and today was our day.  The company announced opening plans for Cedar Point, Kings Island, Worlds of Fun and the two Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas.

The parks will open with reduced hours, limited capacity and increased hygiene practices along with a focus on the use of technology to streamline visits.

Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said, “We want our guests and associates to feel confident knowing that our parks are taking extensive measures to welcome them back to an environment where safety is the highest priority. People will experience our new health and hygiene protocols before they enter the properties for either work or play; these enhancements will be observed throughout the entire day and at departure. We are thrilled that our guests will again be able to enjoy a best day experience at Cedar Point, Kings Island, the Schlitterbahn parks and Worlds of Fun, as well as great shopping and dining again at Knott’s Berry Farm. We look forward to more openings as restrictions are lifted around the country.”

Cedar Fair has created the above video to give visitors an idea of what to expect before they arrive at the parks that are reopening.  This video is specific to Worlds of Fun, but each park will have their own.  I'm not going to go through all the pandemic related changes covered in the video, as they are nothing new to what Cedar Fair has previously announced that they will be doing.  Much like Six Flags' initial video, it is well put together and should help visitors know what to expect ahead of time.

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Galveston will both open on June 13th, and stay open for at least two weeks only for season pass holders.  They anticipate that reservations for non-season pass holders will start in late June.  Once daily ticket sales begin, guests will select their date to make sure it is available, then be able to purchase tickets online.  The park has extensive frequently asked questions located within the safety section of their website.

© Worlds of Fun
Worlds of Fun will open on June 22nd, and has created a nice Welcome Back guide that you can download at this link.  As the chain's first full amusement park to open, they have a very detailed safety section online that details what to do before visiting, when you arrive and when you are in the park.

The park will initially only be open for season pass holders until early July, when single day visitors can make a reservation to attend.  The park has not yet determined when Oceans of Fun, its water park, will open for the year.  Additionally, the park's calendar of daily hours of operation is not available at this time.

Kings Island will open starting on July 2nd and stay open each day only for season pass holders through July 11th.  Since their opening date is further out, the park hasn't uploaded their full safety mini-site just yet.  The park's daily ticket visitor availability will start on July 12th, and as with all the parks reservations are required.  Their update does not specifically mention Orion, the park's new giga coaster, however we know it has been testing and will assume it will open with the park.  That will be a huge draw for visitors, indeed.  An opening date for Soak City water park has not been determined yet.

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point will open on July 9th and July 10th for season pass holders only, starting on July 11th guests of Cedar Point Resorts along with season pass holders will be able to enter the park.  No specific date for day ticket visitors has been announced yet that I can tell.  They previously announced that those looking for a summer getaway without the park can stay at Hotel Breakers and the RV portion of Lighthouse Point from June 12th through June 27th.

Since Cedar Point is a large resort, they're calling describing their reopening as a "phased" one, so there will be more detailed announced in the future, no doubt.  That will includes details on all their resort openings, Soak City, etc.  The park had already pushed back their 150th anniversary celebration to next year, but there is no doubt that the park will fill their reduced capacity as soon as they open.

Finally, while Knott's Berry Farm isn't open, they have recently opened more stores and restaurants in their California Marketplace area.  Details on what is open and when are available on their website.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Six Flags Over Georgia and Wild Adventures Announce Reopening Dates

Today both Six Flags Over Georgia and Wild Adventures, both located in Georgia, announced their plans to reopen to visitors.

Six Flags Over Georgia will welcome back guests starting June 15th, though the first 7 operating days will be only for season pass holders and members.  Starting June 22nd, regular day ticket visitors will be allowed.  The park's small water park, Hurricane Harbor, will open on June 22nd.

Reservations are required for a visit to Six Flags Over Georgia, and they are already available on Six Flags' website for pass holders and members. 

The park has stated on their website that the all-new Gotham City themed area, featuring two new flat rides, will open on June 29th.  Sadly, the park's update also reveals that Mindbender, a classic Schwarzkopf looper that was receiving a heavy refurbishment this past off-season, won't be ready until the 2021 season.

Also in Georgia, Six Flags White Water announced it will reopen on June 29th to pass holders and members, and July 3rd for all ticket types.

Wild Adventures theme park has also announced that it will greet visitors once again starting June 22nd.  The park is a part of the Herschend family, so its announcement is very similar to those of both Dollywood and Silver Dollar City.

The park will require reservations for both season pass holders and day visitors in order to manage attendance, keeping less people in the park at any given time.  They will also require face masks for employees and guests aged 3 and up, and there will be temperature screenings at the entrance.

Interestingly, the park lists several attractions that will be closed due to social distancing efforts - and on that list is Cheetah.  That's the park's wooden roller coaster, similar to rides that we've been seeing open up across the country with just limited riders allowed.  Both Silver Dollar City and Dollywood appear to be opening all their coasters, so this closure is a bit odd to me.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

SeaWorld San Antonio to Reopen June 19th + SeaWorld Parks to Reduce Operating Days

© SeaWorld San Antonio
SeaWorld San Antonio has announced that it will reopen to guests on June 19th.  It will join neighboring Aquatica San Antonio, which reopened to guests for fun in the sun this weekend.

The park will join the SeaWorld Entertainment parks in Florida (which open on June 11th) with similar safety standards in light of COVID-19.  This include temperature screenings, the mandatory use of face masks, limited capacity and plenty of other changes.  The park has a FAQ guide for guests located here.  To visit the park, ticket holders of all types must make a reservation ahead of time.

The park had already opened the Texas Stingray, a brand new wooden roller coaster, before the park temporarily closed due to the pandemic.  Fans are sure to want to race to the park to get either another or their first ride on the coaster!

© SeaWorld San Antonio
Another big change is that SeaWorld San Antonio is planning on staying closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the entire summer, until they move to weekend-only operations in August.  While we didn't cover it here yet, SeaWorld Orlando is doing something similar this summer, with their schedule showing the park closed every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the year.

I have a feeling that SeaWorld Entertainment is waiting to see how much guest demand there is for visits, and making sure to control costs and keep the parks operating profitably by closing a couple days a week.  I also have a feeling that if demand is shown to be high enough they will add back those operating days in a flash.

It is an interesting plan that we haven't seen with other park operators, though really on Six Flags has started to open or announce park openings so far, not Cedar Fair. 

Right now you can reserve a visit to Frontier City as soon as tomorrow (though with very limited entrance times left) and to both Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Fiesta Texas the first day they are open to non-pass and members (this is true for day-tickets, I did not test as a pass holder).  Hopefully this isn't a sign of less than anticipated demand for the parks, if so perhaps Six Flags will switch to closing some days mid-week as well.  Or maybe Cedar Fair will even opt to open that way from the start.  We'll see soon enough.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Small Amusement Park Planned for Myrtle Beach in 2021

© Funplex
Known as the Funplex amusement park, it looks like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will have a small new outdoor park in 2021.  The park, which will be built on what is currently a parking lot, will stretch about a block near the beach, and feature a handful of rides including a family roller coaster.

The concept art up top shows what is planned for the property.  The roller coaster looks like the SBF Visa coaster featuring 'hamster wheel' cars that allow riders to invert tons of times while going around the track, along with some spinning cars in the train.  We first saw this at IAAPA and for thrill seekers it looks like a blast.

© Myrtlebeachonline

This overhead view of the Funplex amusement park comes from a local news story, and shows more of the rides that will be available.  There are a few flat rides, the roller coaster, a drop tower and a couple items for the smaller kids.

Myrtle Beach has long been home to Family Kingdom, a classic beach side amusement park.  Funplex will join it in the city's tourist offerings.

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.