Reserve your fun
As the world begins to slowly start up again, people are naturally trying to get back to some semblance of normal. Restaurants, stores, and attractions are opening up all across the country. Unfortunately, the pandemic is still very much raging. People are doing their best to keep themselves and their family safe even in this strange and potentially long-lasting “new normal.”
The good news is that many attractions, entertainment venues, and theme parks are opening back up sooner than later. Understandably, these places will not be quite the way we left them back in mid-March. Different procedures, protocols, and etiquette will now be in place to protect us as we get back to enjoying our favorite attractions. It’s undeniable that COVID-19 is changing our theme parks before our very eyes.
One major difference you’ll see is the implementation of reservations. Many attractions will strongly recommend reservations in advance while others will non-negotiably require them. Learn how to make reservations and get back to your fun as soon, and as safely, as possible.
Walt Disney World & Disneyland
Set to reopen on July 11, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is one attraction that you will now need to carefully plan in advance to visit. The reopening and booking process will both happen in phases. On July 11th, Magic Kingdom Park and Animal Kingdom will reopen. Next, on July 15th, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow. For Disneyland in California, the parks will begin reopening on July 17 (though some outlets have reported a potential delay!) with Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Disney California is opening much later than its East Coast counterpart—just one of the many surprising differences between Disney World and Disneyland.
Customers, in order to enjoy the “magic,” will need to respect the Disney Park Pass reservation system. In Orlando, beginning on June 22, those who are a Disney Resort/hotel guest can now make reservations. These reservations can only be made for one day, and one park on that day, at a time. After the 26th, Annual Passholders, followed by existing ticket holders, and eventually everyone will be able to make reservations via the online reservation tool.
The reservations will help the parks manage attendance quotas, mandate temperature checks and masks, and promote safe social distancing. The My Disney Experience App will be your best friend for buying tickets and food, line queuing, and all other experiences. Before jumping to book your ticket, please note the other ways the Disney Parks experience will be changing with COVID-19 and understand the guidelines set in place for your safety.
Or, if you just can’t wait, try these virtual Disney World rides you can enjoy at home and keep track of these Disney happenings going on behind the scenes at closed parks.
The Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta’s famous Georgia Aquarium, the second largest aquarium in the United States, is also mandating reservations. In order to meet local and state social distancing guidelines, the aquarium’s capacity has been cut significantly. After it’s reopening on June 15, the aquarium has mandated temperature checks, masks, and closed their main entrance. Visitors will now enter through smaller, more manageable alternate routes. Unfortunately, you still won’t see a great white shark on your visit, but you will be guaranteed a great time. If you get hungry after your visit, make sure you follow these rules on what you shouldn’t do at reopened restaurants.
To maintain social distancing and COVID-19 safety precautions, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is set to unveil a new guest reservation system. At the moment, the system is only online for the parks currently open to guests. Once online, hopeful attendees must choose a specific date and time for their intended visit. Further, guests will need to watch an instructional safety video, agree to the terms (masks!) and risk factors of the park, and confirm attendance via text the day before their visit. Still, guests can cancel without penalty up until 8 a.m. on the day of their intended visit.
To keep attendance quotas down to the new recommended capacity levels, Six Flags will only sell a certain number of entrances to each of their 26 parks in North America. After that, guests may enter a waitlist for potential cancellations. Before COVID-19, theme parks were planning to unveil some of their wildest rides to date in 2020—check out what could have been (and might be again soon) in theme parks all around country.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens
Since the reopening on June 11 (Florida only), SeaWorld Entertainment has followed the tide with its SeaWorld reservation system. All visitors will need to book their date and time of visit in advance for any of the four parks owned by SeaWorld Entertainment (SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens, and Adventure Island). Whether you’re a Fun Card holder, Annual Pass Member, or a regular guest, you’ll need to adhere to strict distancing and protective protocols throughout the parks. Check out these virtual tours, including the SeaWorld Orlando virtual tour, if you’re itching to get back to your flippered friends as soon as possible.
Canobie Lake Park
The New England staple, Canobie Lake Park, is hoping to reopen on July 16. The park has been undergoing massive changes in an effort to prepare to give guests a safe and healthy experience on their over 85 attractions. One large change is the need to make a reservation in advance to visit this New Hampshire park. Further, the park has created a “social distancing team” to make sure that all the new measures—including socially distanced lines and increased sanitation—are followed closely for the safety of guests and staff. The park is honoring past tickets and will continue to accept tickets purchased in 2020 for the 2021 year. If you’re antsy to ride a rollercoaster, make sure you start your quest with the best amusement park in every state.
Similarly, LEGOLAND Parks will also require reservations ahead of time to limit guests and maintain proper social distancing measures. LEGOLAND Florida reopened on June 1 with The Sea Life Aquarium in LEGOLAND California now open as well for reservations. Other opening dates for parks and attractions are still in the works.
In order to visit LEGOLAND, guests must schedule their visits in advance for certain date and time slots. No guests will be allowed in without a prior reservation. Like many other theme parks, LEGOLAND has amped up its safety measures and visitor requirements. Employees and guests must wear a mask, maintain distance, and accept a base level of risk to enter the facilities.
Speaking of Florida, while LEGOLAND and other attractions close to Orlando are reopening with reservations, Universal Studios has announced it will not require reservations. Still, it has stated that it will need to limit guest capacity. Additional guests over the quota will not be admitted. Regardless, trust us when we say Universal Orlando will look quite different on your next visit.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The largest zoo in the United States has returned for members on June 12 and all guests on June 15. All guests will be required to reserve their time slot and date to make sure social distancing and guest quotas are maintained. Guests cannot arrive before their slot or congregate at the entrances.
After 3:00 pm, however, Columbus Zoo Members can enter without a reservation if there is still space available. Further, the zoo offers a “high risk” time slot on Wednesday mornings to immunocompromised, elderly, or otherwise high-risk guests.
You’re not alone if you’re wondering about the big question—did I already have COVID-19? Read our guide to quell suspicion and get some answers.
Opening on July 3, Hershey Park is mandating reservations for each day to maintain a limited number of guests inside the park. According to the website, tickets do not need be purchased for a certain day at checkout. Guests can select their day at a later date at any time before their intended visit. Further, guests must wear masks, agree to temperature screenings, and keep distance from other guests whenever possible. Plus, if you’ve got a Springtime In the Park Ticket from pre-COVID-19, they are honoring them through the Summer season. That’s a great deal, but do you really know the best-value theme park in the world?
Dollywood Parks and Resorts
After opening in phases on June 15 for Dollywood season passholders, Dollywood opened for the general public on June 17. This Nashville country-music adventure park worked with Covenant Health and the State of Tennessee to create health and safety guidelines for a safe reopening, according to Ms. Parton herself. To maintain capacity limits, all guests must adhere to the new Park Reservation System. Season passholders and daily visitors alike must reserve their spot for each planned visit separately, even when planning to visit multiple days. Dollywood is working diligently to make sure visitors adhere to social distancing measures and other safety procedures 24-7, not just 9 to 5.
Sometime in the future, most theme parks will be open and running again. We hope you get a chance to visit these wild, fun, and wacky theme parks that deserve more attention.
“America’s Roller Coast” in Sandusky, Ohio is reopening on July 9, 10, and 11 for season passholders and resort guests. Next, the park is planning a grand reopening for all soon after. In order to enjoy this rollercoaster capital, you’ll need to schedule and reserve your visit online or through the mobile app. Guests are subject to health screenings (including temperature checks) and increased sanitation. The Cedar Point mobile app is required for park maps, contactless payment, line queuing, and other park features.
Before you head off to brave new heights or break-neck speeds, make sure you know these secrets that amusement parks won’t tell you about saving money and avoiding crowds.
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