If 2020 taught us anything, it's that nothing is guaranteed. We may not know exactly what 2021 will bring when it comes to theme parks, but it's poised to include full seasons at a number of locales, a few more waterslides, and a full-fledged Star Wars shopping experience. Here's what's on deck — so far — for the next 11 months:
WHAT'S REOPENING THIS YEAR
This past week brought plenty of re-opening date announcements for parks across the country, including some we haven't yet discussed.
Legoland New York, which delayed its 2020 grand opening, will indeed welcome guests on its much-awaited LEGO Factory Adventure Ride when it opens for the first time later this year. The exact date is not yet specified, but a press preview is on the books for later this month and will allow for first looks at test-runs of rides as well as the park's Brick Street and Bricktopia lands.
Cedar Fair's massive collection of parks will see its gates reopen wider in 2021, if all goes as planned. Cedar Point will reopen May 14, Carowinds, Worlds of Fun, Valleyfair, Dorney Park, and Kings Dominion will open May 22, and Michigan's Adventure will open May 29 (though with no word on if the water park, which remained closed in 2020, will reopen as well). Kings Island has confirmed a passholder event for May, but official reopening dates have not yet been announced. California's Great America — one of the many West Coast parks unable to open in 2020 — is eyeing a May 22 opening, which may be a bit premature given how restrictive California's reopening guidelines still are. Knott's Berry Farm, which is also operated by Cedar Fair, has not announced an opening date after cutting its seasonal food festival event short last December due to COVID-19 cases spiking in the region.
Six Flags reopening dates vary by region, but elsewhere, at least one seasonal park that skipped summer 2020 will finally reopen. Elitch Gardens, which was closed through 2020, has announced plans to open Spring 2021; a passholder weekend is scheduled for April 24 according to Coaster101, who has been keeping a continually updated list of park opening dates.
These openings are being done with CDC guidelines in place, including social distancing measures, additional sanitation, and masks required to be worn by all guests, but it's worth noting that COVID-19 cases nationwide are currently significantly higher than last year. Yesterday saw a seven-day average of 146,409 new COVID-19 cases nationwide, while the highest seven-day average of last summer — high season for theme and amusement parks — was 66,784, less than half of recent tallies.
CHANGES TO ORLANDO PARKS IN 2021
Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World have been open since summer 2020, but the latter will expand offerings next month when Blizzard Beach, one of two Disney waterparks, reopens to the public on March 7.
While masks are not required while swimming or on water slides, Orlando Sentinel reports they will be mandatory elsewhere. We'll have to wait until next month to see how maskless queueing for slides works, but for what it's worth, Disney is known for having the most stringent mask policies of any theme park nationwide, continually updating its guidelines to provide more clarity and less wiggle room within its rules. This past week, Disney added that vaccinated guests would indeed still be required to wear masks, and provided updates to request larger groups split up while in ride queues to allow for social distancing between other parties, furthering the resort's emphasis on safety.
A LOOK TOWARD THE FUTURE
In financial news — don't worry, this is a GameStop-free zone — Blooloop reports that Universal's theme parks in Florida and Japan have broken even in their fourth quarter, as announced on a Comcast corporate call last week. Analysts are also predicting that Disney theme parks will reach "historical attendance levels" by 2022, according to The Orange County Register. It's hopeful news, especially as both Disney and Universal's California parks are inching closer and closer to having been closed for a full year.
Disneyland Resort, whose Buena Vista Street in-park dining options were only open for a short time before California issued a stay-at-home order in December, is opening some of its restaurants back up later this week. Third-party eateries, including those operated by Patina Restaurant Group, are also reopening in Downtown Disney. And, though Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has been closed since March, Disneyland is working toward opening a new Star Wars merchandise outpost in the former location of Rainforest Cafe on Feb. 19, bringing intergalactic goods directly to fans as the park's reopening date remains uncertain. Legacy Passholders — the new term for guests who held active Disneyland annual passes before the parks closed last year — will get an early preview of the space, starting Feb.16.
We can't wait for things to get back to normal, even if this perfect tweet rings more true with every day that passes.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- These Cedar Point posters are extremely good.
- Blue Man Group is officially ending its 14-year run at Universal Orlando Resort.
- Miss theme parks enough to build your own roller coaster? Here's how.
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