When Will You Go Back to a Theme Park Again?

October 11, 2020, 2:02 PM · The biggest question driving the theme park industry right now is this — when will guests start coming back?

Obviously, some fans have been coming back to parks already this year. Many regional parks across the country have been reporting that reservations are sold out on certain dates for their weekend Halloween events. Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World have hit their capacities on a few dates, as well.

But all parks across the United States, and many around the world, are operating under capacity limits as they work to protect safe physical distancing. So even a "sold out" day falls far below what parks typically expect at this time of year. Some locations are allowing parks to increase their capacity limits, but that won't fill the parks if people do not want to come.

The travel industry is hurting right now, worldwide, as people stay home during this pandemic — whether that is by choice, by necessity, or by regulation. As a result, theme parks are laying off tens of thousands of employees, with attraction design and production firms cutting back, too. Few companies want to commit to new projects until they see some promise that fans will return.

So when will you return?

I suspect that the answer for many readers depends upon how this pandemic goes. If you are planning to sit out theme park trips until there's a vaccine or the pandemic otherwise ends, please answer with whatever your best guess might be as to when that might happen. And if parks near you are closed, preventing you from visiting, please give your best guess as to when they might reopen, allowing you to return.

But if you otherwise are good to go, please tell us approximately when you will be making your next visit.

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Replies (40)

October 11, 2020 at 2:14 PM

I went back in July to all of the major Orlando area parks. A big reason for that was because of the money tied to the trip. Not only that but we were supposed to go in late March, pandemic happened, and we were left at the altar so to speak so we wanted to do our trip because of all the plans and hopes we had of going. It was a wonderful trip. I'll never forget walking on to Flight of Passage at AK 3 times all within a 40 minute time span.

With that being said and not being tied to a trip financially or mentally, the earliest I plan on going is Fall 2021, but summer 2022 is more likely. Even that is still tentative. Wearing a mask is ok and doable but I'd rather go when they are not mandated. For that to happen, the virus needs to subside and we are still some time away from that. I am saving up for the next theme park trips and hopefully once things improve people like myself will go out and support our hobbies with a vengeance.

October 11, 2020 at 2:32 PM

Was supposed to be travelling to Orlando from the U.K. this March. Obviously that didn’t happen, so it was rebooked for next year. I’m now thinking that international travel still won’t be up and running by then, so I have a feeling that it’ll be 2022, before I get to go.

October 11, 2020 at 2:52 PM

When I can go to one without a 14 day quarantine on either end of the flight, and without risk I'll bring something back that can harm my community.

October 11, 2020 at 3:39 PM

I'm living in Europe and I have been to two theme parks this year already during the pandemic (Tripsdrill and Phantasialand in Germany) and if the situation doesn't get worse, I plan to go to Europa-Park later this year. But that's a big "if", as the number of cases kept increasing for a few weeks now.

October 11, 2020 at 3:41 PM

My mom had been hopeful for August for a delayed WDW trip. But as a professional nurse/teacher in her 70s, she's far more wary given Florida's mess and not likely to try until next year.

That's about the same for me, it's tempting with lower crowds but still so much danger now.

October 11, 2020 at 3:54 PM

Since everything in CA is closed, technically I can't go to a park this month and, from what it's looking like, for the rest of this year. I went to SFFT last weekend and I felt like the precautions they did were good and they kept enforcing the rules. If given the chance, I'd go to a park so I chose "later this year".

October 11, 2020 at 4:29 PM

I've already gone to some parks, and plan to do so later this year in December. If we're talking the option of traveling to other states/countries, I'd be willing to wait until night shows and parades are brought back, presumably not until mid 2021.

October 11, 2020 at 4:37 PM

We have a trip booked to Disney World for late November and we can’t do it. Living in Colorado we don’t know how to explain to work colleagues and my kids teacher that we’re risking it all for a theme park vacation. It hurts, but feels like the only responsible thing to do.

October 11, 2020 at 4:55 PM

Going to theme parks is one of my favorites things in the world. There's no way in hell I'm going until there's a vaccine for not only my health, but the people I could potentially infect. I said summer 2021 but I have a feeling it will be later than that.

October 11, 2020 at 5:20 PM

I’m dropping my 74 year-old mother off at WDW on Thursday, and I’m making a quick foray to check things out at Universal that afternoon. Have a longer stay planned at USO for mid-November... But I have to admit, I don’t think I’ll really find any joy in going again until masks are no longer a thing... Seeing everyone in masks seriously creeps me out (and has NOTHING to do with politics for me) - I don’t EVER want that to be considered normal...

October 11, 2020 at 6:05 PM

I voted for Summer '21, but that's the most optimistic (yet possible!) timeline. The real answer is I'm not going until I'm vaccinated and a majority of the country is vaccinated as well.

October 11, 2020 at 6:22 PM

I am in Orlando this weekend, and the parks are pretty busy again. Unfortunately, looks like I will need to postpone my California trip until 2023/24, given that is likely when parks there will meet all of the governor's criteria.

As for masks no longer being a thing, I am not getting my hopes up. Definitely feels like the new normal for the parks, and I don't see the parks doing away with it, even with a vaccine / herd immunity. Lots of other viruses spread in the same manner, and unless attendance starts taking a hit, the parks will keep the rule in place given how many folks have adapted to it.

One additional note to those saying they are waiting on a vaccine. I had COVID early on and it felt like a really bad case of the flu. It sucked, but I was fine. But since I am not high risk, I will probably pass on the vaccine. What scares me more is what happens if I have a bad reaction to the vaccine...


October 11, 2020 at 9:15 PM

I'm currently writing this from a hotel room in Orlando after a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and I've got plans to visit SeaWorld Orlando tomorrow, so...about 12 hours, I guess.

Honestly, after visiting a number of parks this summer and fall, I don't think there is more risk to visiting right now than any other outdoor recreation activity (and probably less risk than many indoor activities), so if your local parks are open and you feel comfortable venturing out for non-essential activities, I highly recommend visiting them. There is a very good possibility many smaller parks (particularly independent parks and/or those that didn't open in 2020) could face permanent closure, and they need and deserve all the help and support they can get. However, I would recommend holding off on a larger theme park trip, especially if it's to places you only visit infrequently (once every few years at most) and/or the parks are not covered by admission/passes you've already purchased. I don't say this due to COVID being a higher risk at them, but rather due to all the precautions that make it a lower risk having a significant negative effect on the value and overall experience of the visit.

October 12, 2020 at 8:40 AM

This is a theme park fan site and 57% is saying they will not come back before the pandemic is over.
Imagine what would be the results for normal people. Unfortunately this is very bad news to the industry.

October 12, 2020 at 8:40 AM

We went from planning 2 vacations (our regular Busch Gardens/Colonial Williamsburg trip in June, and a big Orlando park vacation this month), to 0 vacations. We always visit BGW again in the Fall and at Christmas, but those plans are cancelled too. We’re hoping for Spring/Summer 2021 to get back to theme parks. We’ll see.....

October 12, 2020 at 8:49 AM

I didn't vote because it wasn't an option. I live in the Orlando area and have a annual passes. We will return when we don't have to wear a mask. No way we spend a few hours in this heat with a mask on. We are finding other things to do with our time so maybe Disney is losing lifetime members.

October 12, 2020 at 9:24 AM

Hard to answer the question when we don't know if Americans are going to continue acting like entitled idiots who aren't required to wear a mask, and thus the pandemic is going to continue raging unabated, or whether they're going to wake up to reality, acknowledge science, and do what we need to do to control the virus, which is wear masks all the time in public and socially distance.

If it's the former, who knows when we'll reopen. We'll be at 100,000 new infections a day likely within the next month, which will necessitate a full shutdown again. Maybe that will finally wake up these mouth breathing nimrods who think their "personal freedom" matters more than stopping the pandemic.

October 12, 2020 at 9:55 AM

I voted for late 2021 but ultimately it all depends on when we have a vaccine. We won't be going back to the US until there is a vaccine since it's unlikely people's attitude towards the pandemic will change enough for it to bring the case loads down to levels the rest of the industrialized nations are seeing.

October 12, 2020 at 9:56 AM

Good to see how well wearing masks and social distancing is working for other countries...


October 12, 2020 at 10:49 AM

Would have gone 2 months ago had they reopened parks in southern California. I chose early 2021 because that is most likely when the local parks will open... if the state doesn't bankrupt them first. Obviously there aren't many options during the winter season... Will make a trip to Florida and spend my money out of state if CA doesn't get it's act together.

October 12, 2020 at 10:52 AM

Despite being in a high risk group - over 65 and immunocompromised - I went to Six Flags Great Adventure last month because after surgery for a hip fracture in May followed by several months of physical therapy, I wanted to prove that I was sufficiently recovered to ride a roller coaster. It was a calculated risk but probably not much more so than going to the supermarket. Social distancing was excellent on one of the rides and not so good on another. In any case, no harm was done. Several weeks ago I went to Playlands' Castaway Cove in Ocean City, NJ and much to my surprise, ride ops required that all masks be removed prior to getting on GaleForce. So there I was, with no mask, sitting next to a total stranger, and this was concerning but again I survived and this was despite the park's total disregard for social distancing on that ride. (People were wearing masks on other rides so the most logical explanation for the policy on GaleForce was concern that the masks would be blown off.) My experience thus far would tend to indicate that the danger of going to a park is somewhat overestimated. I'm hoping to go to Hersheypark at the end of the month but one thing I absolutely won't do at this point is visit a park which requires air travel to access. I don't feel comfortable about being in close quarters with numerous people for an extended period. And while British Airways is now accepting bookings from the US for next year (my scheduled trip in April was cancelled due to the pandemic), I'm not going to book another trip to the UK until I have a much better reading on how the pandemic will play out. That's a long time to be in flight and unless there's a significant decrease in COVID cases it's much too high a risk.

October 12, 2020 at 10:57 AM

We cancelled our APs for both WDW and US/IOA (Busch Gardens extended through the end of 2021). We won't be going back until we don't have to wear a mask.

October 12, 2020 at 11:55 AM

In agreement with Denise. Only currently visiting parks where our passes are still active. Already informed US/IOA that we are not renewing when our passes expire in January, and doing the same with Busch Gardens when passes expire at the end of 2021.

October 12, 2020 at 12:18 PM

My best guess is fall/late 2021, but that is all based on circumstances between now and then.

Honestly, I have a week off coming up next month, and would use it to visit Disneyland if it were an option, but it's not.

I work indoors, with lots of sustained contact (sometimes the same guests for HOURS at a time), and I would feel safer at a theme park with their restrictions than I do at work. I'm SHOCKED my workplace hasn't become a superspreading hotspot yet, with as many people I have to remind every two minutes (or less) that masks are required. People here just do NOT take it seriously, and it blows my mind how cavalier some of them are about it.

I just think that Fall 2021 is the earliest it's LIKELY that I'll be able to visit again.

October 12, 2020 at 1:22 PM

I voted summer or late 2021 because if I were to go it would be for HHN at Universal. Right now though? Well, I would feel relatively safe in the Florida parks, but I have zero confidence in the way Floridians and their leadership have handled the pandemic so far. Plus there's the logistics of getting there from the center of the country to Orlando for me.

It was interesting seeing the barrage of ads from Disney yesterday during the NFL games trying to persuade families that "everything is fine, come and visit us" when it is absolutely not. While I don't necessarily blame them, as a country it is frightening to see that we have put money above the health of all citizens. "What's it to lose a couple million people dying as long as we have enough people to keep things going" seems to be the ongoing mentality.

October 12, 2020 at 1:45 PM

Europe , Benelux.
I've been to Efteling theme park already 10 (!!) times, after the lockdown.
Most often late afternoon or evening hours.
Also, "Maasmechelen Village", which is a highly themed outlet shopping village, wich would not fall under the classic theme park definition, but a highly attractive Benelux tourist destination anyway. (Normaly, not in corona times, densely crowded) The 'Village' is part of a walking/sports/watersports/cinemas & hotel resort project, and I see moderate crowds everywhere.. even on the drifting jumping-air-castle venue on the lake... (I'm myself actually doing height level RUN training in the sports park)
When considering the situation and the legal limits, both places (Efteling & Maasmechelen activity park) are crowded.
Safely measures are set up, but... NOT always followed by the customers.
More. Regardless of the security people walking both parks, THEY (the security people) are almost NEVER reprimanding those who refuse to follow the rules.
(I call this : they refuse to do their paid job)
I've no idea if this is the case because of negligence of the security agents themselves, or because the were ordered so, by the company !?
It's a dangerous legal situation.
If an outbreak would be localised by officials inside the constraints of the private property, the legal fines are tower high, and the venue gets closed by law.
The situation in Europe is VERY liberal/free at the moment, in case of the theme parks, recreation parks. (MUCH more free then in the USA) But, it COULD lead to the extreme, an new total lockdown.

October 12, 2020 at 2:10 PM

I would like to think my next theme park adventure will be next year, but realistically I can't see it being until 2022. Maybe if things miraculously get back to normal at the back end of next summer then I might consider it. If I'm going anywhere other than the local parks I want to experience everything the park has to offer, and not just 3/4 of it.

Disney and Seaworld are great mid-week, but even I don't see me visiting them anytime soon at the weekends. Mask wearing is OK for a couple of hours, but after that it starts to get uncomfortable. Although with the cooler weather on the horizon, it may not be quite as bad.

I'm still not riding any rides, and a possible DHS visit this week will see me steer well clear of all the usual haunts, Rise, MFSR, TofT & SDD. I haven't been on Mako for eons, but it'll still be there when this mess is all over :)

October 12, 2020 at 4:40 PM

I can't speak for Disney, but what a contrast between US/IOA and SeaWorld today, which is Columbus Day in the US (and also now Indigenous Peoples Day according to Google Calendar).

US/IOA jam packed and other than a dedicated line for pass member parking, I was forced to wait with everyone else quite some time for temp check and security. As a Comcast customer, I have low expectations for them, but they need to step up their game for pass members, especially Premiers who used to get free VIP parking and dedicated security lines.

SeaWorld is a ghost town in comparison, and walked right on Manta and Mako. Unfortunately, Kraken wasn't operating today.

October 12, 2020 at 3:02 PM

We just got back from a weekend in Orlando. We did the Magic Kingdom on Friday, crowds by number probably aren't as bad as usual, but with the length of the queues it makes it feel alot busier. Example is for Haunted mansion, we got in line close to the country bear jamboree, but were on the ride in about 20 minutes. But with this happening with just about every ride, the walkways are full of people, most of who were wearing masks and most staying on the distance markers. Other park we did was Discovery Cove yesterday and that was great. Besides the parks, the restaurants definitely seemed alot busier than when we there in July.

October 12, 2020 at 5:28 PM

Ugh, imagine having to wait in line with the rest of the plebs to get into a theme park. I can't even imagine the horror.

If I roll up with my annual pass and I'm not greeted by name, ushered in through a private entrance, and given immediate access to whatever rides I want...it's like what's even the point of thinking I'm better than others?

October 12, 2020 at 5:37 PM

It blows my mind how scared many of you are of this virus. The death rate is lower than the flu but we don’t shut down the country over that. I personally have been living life as close to normal as my family has allowed me too.

October 12, 2020 at 6:13 PM

Wow, I never ceased to be amazed at the success of Fox News' brainwashing techniques. TheStormRunner makes the members of Jonestown sound saavy.

October 12, 2020 at 6:51 PM

Not going until Virus is over.... This is not a joke with 215,000 dead and counting. They predict 400K Dead by Feb 2021.. Plus countless long them affects for others.

Would love to go, but for now it's a no...

Hopefully Late 2021....

Thecolonel is correct.... Just voted today and not for any GOPers...

October 13, 2020 at 10:05 AM

We went to SFA twice over the holiday weekend, and have visited two other times earlier this summer. We also visited Hersheypark for the Candymonium media day back in July. However, our next closest theme park, Kings Dominion has remained closed all summer, and will not open for the rest of the year. BGW is open, but the distance from our home and limited operating hours make it impractical for us to visit right now.

As for any destination parks, we've been considering taking a run down to Dollywood, which is a 7.5 hour drive, but it just doesn't make much sense given the distance and practicality of such a trip. I'd love to visit some other theme parks right now, but given the difficulty of traveling safely and the limited hours, open attractions, and other points of interest that similarly have limited hours and availability, it's just too much hassle to make a trip worthwhile. That goes for all of the Florida parks too, which could probably fill a week's worth of time without having to lean on any other non-theme park attractions, because the juice simply isn't worth the squeeze. Luckily, we were just at WDW in January, so that trip will tide us over for at least another year or 2.

That's kind of where we're at right now, and as we head into the winter months when regional parks start closing and limiting hours even further, it gets to a point where even planning a trip is just a waste of time and emotional energy. I'd like to think that we could plan something for next spring/summer, but again, the travel/tourism landscape is far too unsettled to make any solid plans, and even tentative plans aren't worth the energy to put together since there's a distinct likelihood that they would never get beyond the "dream" stage.

October 13, 2020 at 10:53 AM

Went to Hersheypark this weekend, which I was willing to do because I had control over my potential exposure. I live within 90 minutes, so I could drive (rather than cram into a plane); the experience is mostly outdoors (rather than cramped theater-type attractions); the park enforces mask use and has social-distanced the rides. Given the cool weather, seven hours in a mask (less meals) wasn't too onerous.

For several months now, Hersheypark has used reservations to throttle attendance, but it felt like a full-capacity crowd: on the park's main avenues at certain hours, social distancing was difficult. (Caveat: This is my first visit, so maybe it gets even *busier*.)

October 13, 2020 at 3:05 PM

We will return to our regional parks next year, and have a trip planned for Disney World in the summer of 2022. It was going to be next year before COVID, but the construction halt on some of the rides that we are interested in (mainly the Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy coasters) will force us to wait another year.

October 13, 2020 at 3:18 PM

Because of COVID, we changed the type of trips were taking and focused on more outdoor activities. I have been saving up for annual passes so I am in the drivers seat as far as when I go. COVID would effect my return. I am a big proponent of testing prior to entry (or a advance test 72 hours prior to entry.) With how quick COVID testing is now, there is no excuse not to have it as pre-requisite. I would like to see the lines go to a 10 foot distance as well.

Right now, I would like to see full experiences to return including all the entertainment, bands, and "streetmosphere" While I answer this poll with some time in 2022, this will change if the entertainment does not return in some form I could push it back as far as AUG 2023.

We are looking at 1-2 trips in 2021 focused around UT and CO/WY.

October 13, 2020 at 4:54 PM

It’s a simple answer- when I don’t have to wear a face mask. But...when Avengers Campus opens. So aiming for sometime late summer, or early fall of 2021.

October 16, 2020 at 9:27 AM

I don't expect I'll be able to go until sometime next year. I'm Canadian, the border is closed.

I did buy a season pass for my local Six Flags park. It was open for a couple months, but forced to close again.

October 16, 2020 at 3:48 PM

I checked off summer 2021, as that's the time of year when we usually travel to Disney World. However, we held on to this year's trip reservation as long as possible, and Florida took New Jersey off their quarantine list, so went a couple of months ago. We felt safe and really enjoyed the low crowds.

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