SeaWorld Orlando and its sister park Busch Gardens Tampa reopened to the public today, meaning that half of Central Florida's eight big theme parks are now welcoming guests.
The other half reopen next month with the return of the four Walt Disney World parks. For now though, the two SeaWorld company parks join the Universal Orlando parks, which reopened last week. Like at Universal, initial crowds at SeaWorld were just a small fraction of what would be visiting the parks at this time of year.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are requiring advance reservations to visit, unlike the Universal parks. But fans today estimated the crowd at only about 15 percent of a typical summer day. As SeaWorld's interim CEO suggested in an investors' call last month, maintaining safe social distancing isn't turning out to be a problem in the parks, as the combination of few visitors in a large space left plenty of room for everyone. Temperature checks and masks are mandatory, as well. (Thanks again to Theme Park Insider readers for their reports and photos.)
The park was spacing parties and alternating rows for the shows that were running, including Dolphin Days, Clyde and Seymour, and Orca Encounter. Pets Ahoy is not running at this time.
On rides, spacing rules were pretty much the same - alternate rows. But on Infinity Falls, each party got its own raft.
In case you were wondering, the park's new coaster, Icebreaker, is not running. No word on an opening date for that, or for Busch Gardens' Iron Gwazi, which at least was testing before the parks closed due to the virus.
Also to help promote social distancing, SeaWorld has cleared merchandise displays from the floor of many of its stores, including Hooper's Store in Sesame Street.
The park also is restricting access to restrooms, assigning attendants to ensure that they do not get so overcrowded that people can't keep their distance.
SeaWorld's Aquatica and Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens' Adventure Island also reopened to the public today. You can check reopening dates for other parks across the country in our post, When Will Your Favorite Theme Parks Reopen?Tweet
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