What Are Crowds Like at Theme Parks This Summer?

August 2, 2020, 6:42 PM · While I am stuck here in Southern California - the land without theme parks - readers have been sending me photos from parks around the country. While crowds levels overall are down substantially from what one would expect on the first weekend in August during a "normal" summer, it appears that the number of people visiting individual parks around the country still varies significantly.

Orlando-area parks were closing early today due to the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaias. But yesterday still didn't bring many visitors out to SeaWorld Orlando.

SeaWorld Orlando

The dolphins didn't outnumber the visitors at this show, but the ratio's a lot lower than it used to be.

Crowd at the dolphin show

And if you're looking for a photo to provoke outrage over a lack of masks and social distancing among those inside the park, well, here ya go.

Penguins

[Update: SeaWorld Orlando announced Monday that it will expand its operating calendar to open on Thursdays through September 6. The park will remain closed on Tuesdays but now open every other day of the week.]

Up at Kings Island, a reader sent this photo of the parking lot on a day that park employees called "busy."

Kings Island parking lot

Indeed, the park's new Bolliger & Mabillard giga coaster, Orion, had its usual blockbuster wait - during which a few people needed assistance for heat-related issues. Remember, no matter how many fewer people might be in the parks than usual this summer, it's still hot out there and the usual rules about drinking water, seeking shade, and taking care of yourself apply.

And, oh yeah, don't be a penguin - take care of others and wear your mask, too.

Visiting a park? Send your photos to themeparkinsider@gmail.com. Or post a trip report to our Discussion Forum!

Replies (14)

August 2, 2020 at 6:58 PM

For the Florida parks it’s pretty simple. The higher the Covid 19 cases in Florida the less tourist. If Florida wants its tourism to flourish it’s State leaders must realize they must take the actions needed to reduce the virus outbreak. Unfortunately the Governor continues to damage the Florida economy by taking steps that grow the virus cases not reduce them.
If he presses forward with full reopening of brick and mortar schools and bars over the next few weeks, Florida’s tourism economy will be in even worse shape by October with little or no hope of rebound during the holiday season.
If I was Disney and Universal I would be making some very unpleasant calls to the State House. Before he completely destroys these companies massive business investments in the State.

August 2, 2020 at 7:05 PM

According to the TEA attendance study by attendance in North America

#2 - Disneyland
#8 - DCA
#9 - USH
#11 - KBF
#13 - CW
#15 - SFMM
#17 - SWSD
#20 - SFGAm

All have one thing in common.

August 2, 2020 at 8:08 PM

Really short lines and really long waits.

August 2, 2020 at 8:49 PM

I didn’t take pictures, but we were at Volcano Bay today (not sure if your post is entirely accurate, the parks were open all day today and the weather was fine).

Volcano Bay was not crowded and everything was a walk on. That said, there were enough people that it felt “filled” and not a ghost town. Same with Disney Springs.

August 2, 2020 at 9:43 PM

You Tube is also notable for scores of vids of the parks, WDW seems busier and such yet still striking how light it is....

August 2, 2020 at 10:49 PM

"What Are Crowds Like at Theme Parks This Summer?" Minimal. I visited all the major parks in Texas as well as a few in surrounding states and generally didn't encounter a wait longer than 15 minutes. By my estimation, there were probably at most 2,000 people in any of them, which is tiny for a summer weekend at a park like Six Flags or SeaWorld (those are usually 10,000-15,000 on busy days). The only exception was Silver Dollar City, which had a pretty healthy crowd given the circumstances and wait times of up to 40 minutes for headliners. It wasn't as bad as I'd assume it typically is in July, but definitely busier than I'd expect given current circumstances.

August 3, 2020 at 1:52 AM

@AJ--Were people social distancing and wearing masks at the parks you visited? Was there Covid-safety enforcement by the staff? Did you feel safe? Thanks.

August 3, 2020 at 1:52 AM

Beacher, the short answer is yes to all of the above. For more details, I summarized my experience in this report.

August 3, 2020 at 8:13 AM

i live in orlando and have been visiting the parks regularly (although i haven't made it down to tampa yet)...they are amazingly empty, with the exception of the weekends, as 2 sundays ago, universal was busier than i'd hoped, but still no where near pre-covid levels. have met a few families who have traveled from other states, but it is very odd to see the expansive walkways in epcot and animal kingdom with very few people on them. i have a reservation for the 21st for magic kingdom and am very curious to experience it. hoping i can ride seven dwarfs mine train without much of a wait. all in all, there are visitors, but nothing like the usual summer throngs.

August 3, 2020 at 9:17 AM

I've made 2 theme park visits so far this summer, which is significantly down from a typical year where we would have made nearly a dozen visits (or more) from April until the end of July. We went to Hersheypark in early July as part of their media day for Candymonium. While we were there for the media event, the park was open for pass holders, and I felt that there were decent crowds given the circumstances. Our second visit was a couple of weeks ago to Six Flags America. Based on a quick look at the guests exiting their cars in the parking lot, most people were visiting the water park for the day, but when torrential rains rolled through mid-afternoon, many of those guests migrated to and crowded the ride side of the park, which was sparsely populated for most of our time there.

In general, I was pretty satisfied with the safety precautions at both parks, and I have to applaud a few SF employees that were very aggressive and stern about enforcing mask rules. While crowds at both parks relatively sparse, there were still some notable waits for top rides because of reduced capacity and longer dispatch times due to cleaning and additional checks.

August 3, 2020 at 9:53 AM

I went to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, TX on Wednesday. Only one park was open but crowds were pretty heavy. Long waits for attractions including getting into the wave river and lazy river. Overall it was a lot more of a crowd than I expected. Hitting up Six Flags Over Texas this Friday so will see what those crowd levels are like.

August 3, 2020 at 10:23 AM

I was at Universal for 3 days last week moderate crowded in the afternoon. Staff doing a great job with the protocols. Felt very safe comfortable. Got to ride Haggard's 3xs. Heading to Disney for a long weekend this week. If your local and love theme parks go. I felt more comfortable there then in the real world. Don't think i would get on a plane to go. But if you can drive do it. The lack of crowds offsets having to wear a mask

August 3, 2020 at 12:44 PM

@Floridapgapro:

"felt more comfortable there then in the real world. Don't think i would get on a plane to go. But if you can drive do it. The lack of crowds offsets having to wear a mask"

I couldn't agree more. I was at Universal myself a month ago and second everything you said about the protocols. It sucks that people can't travel to the parks at the moment, and as a local (within 2 hours anyway so "local" enough) what better time to enjoy the parks? My thinking is that is if the parks are practicing all of the necessary precautions and giving people a chance to work in a safe environment, I would be foolish not to take the chance to go and support my beloved parks in this hopefully once-in-a-lifetime era of Theme Park Fandom.

August 3, 2020 at 7:25 PM

Universal seemed to have bigger crowds than Disney a few weeks ago.

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