Saturday, July 4, 2020

Dutch Wonderland to Open, Kennywood Delays Reopening

© Dutch Wonderland
Happy 4th of July everyone.  Please make sure to stay safe today!

We continue to watch as parks announce reopening plans, and in some cases delay or cancel them.  A little of both again today.

Dutch Wonderland, located in Pennsylvania, has announced their plan to reopen to guests on July 14th for season pass holders, a period that will last through July 17th.  Starting July 18th the park plans to be open to all visitors.

The park will follow its sister parks changes in terms of COVID-19 prevention and safety.  This includes a reservation system to control attendance (which will go live soon), social distancing throughout the park, increased sanitization standards and more.  Face masks will be required for a visit.

The park has all this information, along with guest and employee responsibilities, listed on their website.

© Kennywood
Kennywood had planned to open this Monday for the first time this year, but due to spiking numbers of COVID-19 cases in their county, they have had to delay the reopening.

Allegheny county, where the park is located, has set in place a one week stay at home order, which also included closing indoor dining at restaurants, casinos and limiting gatherings to 25 people.  Potentially this means the park's opening may only be delayed by a week, but it has been proven that anything can happen in 2020!

The delay also includes Kennywood's sister waterpark, Sandcastle, which was also scheduled to reopen.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion to Stay Closed in 2020?

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
The Governor of Virginia has only allowed entertainment facilities such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion to open with a maximum of 1,000 visitors in the state's 3rd phase of reopening.

While it is good that the parks are able to open, they're not able to make it financially worthwhile at a maximum of 1,000 visitors per day, and as such do not appear to plan to reopen this year.

This article gives a nice summary of what has transpired so far, and the leader of Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been outspoken about wanting theme park capacity lifted to 5,000 to 7,000 people per day.  The park has been trying to work with the Governor's office to get the visitor limit lifted, but with no luck so far.

The park has stated that they have a very detailed COVID-19 related operating plan ready to go, and that in some ways they're not that different from Virginia Beach, which has been allowed to open.  Another part of their argument is that the size of the parks make it such that people are easily distanced apart.

We will have to keep tabs on the story, but at this point we're already in July and these parks would need at least a couple weeks (or more) to get ready if they were allowed to open.  Plus, in different parts of the country the COVID-19 cases are rising fast, which might not help their case either.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Waldameer Park to Open, Rye Playland to Stay Closed, and Hurricane Harbor Phoenix Closes

© Waldameer
Pennsylvania's Waldameer Park and Water World will open to visitors on July 3rd, marking the start of their 2020 season.  The park will not able able to open all of their rides in order to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, but the vast majority of the park's attractions will be available.

Guests visiting the park will be required to wear a face mask, at least for those age 3 and up.  Pennsylvania has continued to have face masks required at all businesses, regardless of type, during the pandemic and Waldameer will be no exception to that rule.

In order to monitor attendance levels guests will have to purchase their tickets online ahead of time and select the date they want to visit.  The park will not be selling any tickets at their entrance gates.  This also means that non-rider free admission will not be available in 2020 but the park plans to bring it back in 2021.

© Playland
New York's Rye Playland amusement park has made the tough decision to stay closed for the 2020 season.  The park is part of the Westchester County parks system, and that general area was one of the first in the country to be heavily hit with COVID-19 cases.  In order to continue to keep the public and employees safe the decision to not open the amusement park this year was made.

From the park's website it looks like other amenities surrounding the park, such as the beach and mini-golf, are currently operating on limited schedules with plenty of precautions in place.

© Hurricane Harbor Phoenix

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix was already open for the 2020 season, however due to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in Arizona the park has announced that they will be closing for 30 days.

The state's Governor has ordered all water parks and tubing enterprises to stay shuttered until at least July 27th - calling that date and "aspirational" goal.  To me that means it could easily go longer depending on what the number of cases do.

It's a mixed bag of good news with bad so far this summer, everyone keep safe!

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.