The state of California has issued its official industry guidance for amusement parks and theme parks. This is the more detailed set of rules that parks must follow when they reopen under the broad guidelines announced earlier this month.
Those guidelines allowed parks to reopen starting April 1 in counties that had reached at least the state's "Red" Tier 2 level for Covid infections. Parks in those counties could operate at 15% capacity, moving up to 25% in the Orange tier and 35% in Yellow.
The new guidance details more restrictions on park operations, including:
The rules also encourage parks to implement mobile ordering and electronic tickets to minimize waiting inside the park and physical touching of ticket media by park staff. The state also recommends that parks adopt virtual queueing and eliminate single rider lines and that parks comply with other state Covid safety rules, including those for ventilation and cleaning and disinfecting workplaces. You can read the entire PDF document on the state's website.
So far, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Discovery Kingdom have announced that they will begin reopening on April 1, with Legoland California also beginning previews on the same day. Legoland official returns on April 15, and all three parks have begun accepting advance reservations from members, passholders and ticket holders.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will reopen on April 30, though Disney has yet to announce its reservation and ticketing plans. Disney has closed its annual pass program, so there are no existing passholders to accommodate. Knott's Berry Farm has said that it will reopen sometime in May and sister park California's Great America returns May 22. Universal Studios Hollywood has not announced a reopening date, and SeaWorld San Diego is currently operating as a zoo, with no date announced for the return of rides in theme park operation.
While the new rules will allow theme parks to reopen, the specific requirements detailed today will keep certain attractions from being able to return. Disneyland already has announced that it will not conduct parades or fireworks shows, for example. The prohibition of indoor queues also will affect several rides at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, which will need to substantially modify their operation if they are to reopen.
Update: Here is the statement from the state's theme park industry association, the California Attractions and Parks Association:
"We appreciate the administration’s efforts to provide our industry with the guidelines necessary to safely reopen California’s amusement parks," CPA Chairperson Kris Reyes said.
"California amusement parks prioritize health and safety, and we have worked collaboratively with state leaders and health officials at the state and local levels to develop guidelines that will protect employees and guests. We will continue to communicate with state officials about appropriate guest and staff capacities as COVID-19 rates decline.
"Amusement parks are critical economic drivers in our state and local economies and we provide essential jobs for tens of thousands of Californians. We are ready to reopen responsibly and we can’t wait to welcome back our employees and guests."
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