SeaWorld, Legoland and other San Diego attractions await state approval of planned July 1 reopening
Theme parks had a joint call Wednesday with county health officials to unveil reopening plans, which now must be blessed by the state
Some of San Diego County’s biggest tourist attractions -- Seaworld, Legoland and The USS Midway -- had a joint call Wednesday with county health officials in hopes of advancing their plans to reopen by July 1.
After unveiling detailed steps for how they will safely resume operations at their shuttered parks, they must now await approval from the state before they can actually welcome guests sometime this summer.
“Legoland California Resort, The USS Midway Museum and SeaWorld San Diego reviewed its collective reopening safety plan with County of San Diego officials today,” the attractions said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “While the attractions will all be ready to reopen on July 1 if authorized, the plan now moves on to State officials for additional review and guidance. As the San Diego attraction coalition, we were greatly appreciative to County staff for the opportunity to present our reopening plan to them today.”
The announcement came on the same day that Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando announced their plans for reopening. Disney hopes to reopen its four Florida theme parks in two phases in July, while SeaWorld is looking at a June 10 reopening date. Both theme park companies still need final approval from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He has already OK’d plans by Legoland Florida to reopen on Monday.
In California, health officials have said that theme parks are on tap to open later in Stage 3 of the state’s four-tier reopening plan, but only if infection and hospitalization rates remain stable.
“The California Department of Public Health will issue detailed guidance with suggested modifications for how to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread when theme parks reopen,” said Kate Folmar, spokeswoman for California Health and Human Services. “We will work with employers and employees on developing this guidance.”
She offered no specific target date for a reopening, saying that data related to COVID-19 hospitalizations and how prepared hospitals are for an increased caseload will be among the factors used to determine the timing.
County officials described the Wednesday meeting with the three attractions as “productive.”
“They have been working hard on reopening,” said county spokesman Michael Workman. “The State will make the decision as to when theme parks can open. We will be ready to assist them to open safely when the Governor clears them to open.”
In a statement a day earlier from the attractions, they said their plans for opening back up are “based on guidance from the CDC and gives details on personal protective equipment, social distancing measures, cleaning and sanitation protocols, work and sick policies, employee screenings, COVID training and customer communication including signage and website messaging.”
All of the theme parks have been shut down since mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park were not a part of Wednesday’s discussion with the county, Workman said they too have been in contact with county officials and “are doing their due diligence preparing to open when the state gives them the go-ahead.
However, unlike SeaWorld, Legoland and the Midway, they have yet to announce a target date for reopening.
Earlier this month, the San Diego Tourism Authority posted online a document crafted by SeaWorld, Legoland, the Midway, and the San Diego Zoo, detailing steps they would take upon resuming operations. The zoo was not a part of the Wednesday call with the county.
That plan calls for temperature and wellness checks for employees, masks for guests and workers, reduced capacity at the parks, a six-foot separation for entry and ride queues, Plexi shields at food stations, and regularly disinfecting ride vehicles and touchpoints.
Legoland spokeswoman Julie Estrada said on Tuesday that the Carlsbad park’s own detailed strategy for reopening already has been circulated among several state Senators and Assembly members.
SeaWorld San Diego, responding Tuesday to queries about its reopening plans, did not offer a tentative date, saying it hopes to make an official announcement soon. It added, “We are developing a range of precautions and safety measures, all of which are designed to provide our employees and guests a safe, healthy, and clean environment.”
Also categorized among Stage 3 businesses are barbershops and salons, which on Tuesday got the word from Newsom’s office that they can begin to reopen. San Diego County followed suit, giving the businesses the green light to open as soon as they implement and post one of the county’s Safe Reopening Plans.
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