Theme parks can begin reopening in New York on April 9, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today. That usually wouldn't mean all that much for the industry, as there have been no major theme parks located in New York state. But it does clear the way for Legoland New York to debut this year, as planned.
The Orange County park had been slated to open last July 4, but the pandemic scuttled those plans, as it did so many throughout the industry. Designed to include more than 50 rides, shows, and other attractions on its 150-acre site 60 miles north of Manhattan, Legoland New York will operate seasonally instead of year-round like its sibling parks in California and Florida. The park has not announced a new opening date, but now can move forward with those plans.
New York's order allows outdoor amusement parks to open at 33 percent capacity on April 9. Indoor family entertainment centers may open at 25 percent capacity on March 26.
"We are thrilled with Governor Cuomo's announcement for the reopening of family attractions, including outdoor theme parks," Legoland New York Divisional Director Stephanie Johnson said. "This means Legoland New York Resort will be able to celebrate its grand opening this season as planned and we look forward to sharing more details soon.
"Our first priority is always the health, safety and security of our guests and our team. We are awaiting further guidance from New York State on specific safety and operating procedures, which we will follow alongside all federal and local health and safety guidelines."
Sister park Legoland California congratulated its counterpart in New York, while also making a pitch for its return.
"We are thrilled our sister park Legoland New York will be able to celebrate its grand opening this year now that Governor Cuomo has announced for the reopening of family attractions, including outdoor theme parks," Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks said. "We anticipate Governor Newsom to follow suit and announce similar dates for the responsible reopening of theme parks in California allowing Legoland California Resort to reopen its gates to our guests soon."
California's current Covid rules allow for theme parks, including Legoland California, to open at 25 percent capacity when their home counties reach the state's fourth - and least restrictive - tier, based on local Covid caseloads and other factors. The California Attractions and Parks Association, of which Legoland, Disneyland, and other major parks are members, have backed a state Assembly bill that would allow the parks to return to the state's Orange tier three instead of having to wait for the Yellow tier four.
In the meantime, Legoland California has been opening its Miniland to hotel guests and customers of its Big Shop store, which is open for in-person shopping. Other parks in the state have been opening for outdoor dining events and those with animal exhibits, such as SeaWorld San Diego, have been reopening as zoos.
When it opens, Legoland New York will feature the global debut of the Lego Factory Adventure Ride - a trackless adventure on which riders will seem to be turned into Lego minifigurines.
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The only surprise here is that Governor Cuomo is not requiring Covid tests for amusement parks like he is doing for sporting events.