Here’s when SoCal theme parks plan to reopen and what will be different

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Theme parks across Southern California are planning to welcome back guests over the coming weeks after yearlong closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia announced it plans to reopen April 1.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim are set to open their gates April 30.

Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad is set to begin reopening April 1 for “park preview days” before officially reopening April 15.

Universal Studios Hollywood is scheduled to reopen April 16, and Knott’s Berry Farm is expected to open back up sometime in May.

With masked crew members, closed or canceled attractions, designated eating areas and new queuing rules, guests can expect to find their beloved amusement parks altered by the pandemic.

State guidelines for theme parks

Most noticeable will likely be the smaller number of people allowed into the theme parks.

For parks in counties in the red tier of the state’s four-tier reopening plan, visitors can only be brought back at maximum capacity of 15%. In the orange tier, guests can be welcomed back at up to 25% capacity. In the yellow tier, more people can visit the parks, at 35% capacity.

As of Monday, Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties were all in the red tier.

The California Department of Public Health released is guidelines for amusement parks Friday, less than a week before they’re allowed to begin reopening.

Here’s what will be different when guests visit California theme parks amid the ongoing pandemic, according to state guidelines:

Reserving and getting into the theme parks:

  • Only in-state visitors can visit California’s theme parks.
  • Reservation systems will be used to make sure the venue can maintain the required capacity limits.
  • When buying tickets, guests will have to attest that their party size will not include more than three households and that they’re all in-state visitors. 
  • Face masks are required throughout the park, unless eating or drinking. “Guests who do not comply should be removed from the facility immediately,” state officials said.
  • The shuttle service should be limited whenever possible, officials said.
  • Theme parks could also recommend that guests only bring in clear bags so that security personnel don’t have to touch guests’ bags for inspection.
  • Ticketing offices will likely have plexiglass barriers. Switchback queueing areas may also have dividers.
  • The state recommended that theme parks schedule staggered ingress in order to minimize lines for wanding, bag check and ticket scanning.
  • And theme parks were told to “discontinue the use of equipment lent to guests unless it can be properly disinfected after each use.” It’s unclear how that’ll affect stroller rentals.

Eating and drinking:

  • Visitors can only eat and drink in designated dining areas.
  • Guests can’t be eating and drinking while walking around or standing in line for rides.
  • Counties in the red tier: No indoor dining
  • Counties in the orange tier: Indoor dining limited to a maximum of 25% capacity
  • Counties in the yellow tier:  Indoor dining limited to a maximum of 50% capacity

Rides and shows:

  • Only outdoor live performances and shows are allowed. But Disneyland won’t be having parades or nighttime spectaculars since they draw large crowds.
  • Indoor rides must be limited to no more than 15 minutes. 
  • Guests are only allowed to queue outdoors, standing at least 6 feet away from others not in their party. The state recommended using a virtual queue system where practical.
  • On rides, seating patterns may be adjusted to allow for physical distancing. That means operators could seat people every other ride vehicle or row.
  • Disney is suspending FASTPASS and Disney MaxPass services.
  • Character meet-and-greets could also be canceled, and photo opportunities could be modified to allow for distancing between the workers and guests.
  • State guidelines recommend that theme parks “discontinue use of a ride or attraction where use of face coverings presents a safety issue or high incidence of loss of face covering during operation.”
  • Theme parks will also likely dedicate staff to help people maintain distances during activities.

And like any other sector reopening amid the pandemic, the theme parks will have to follow state guidelines on cleaning, ventilation, physical distancing, and safety while dining.

All employees will have to be tested for the coronavirus weekly, state officials said. Performers who can’t work with a face covering on don’t have to wear one during the performance as long as they’re 6 feet away from others, and are routinely tested at least twice a week.

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