California amusement parks reopen at 25% capacity with limits on out-of-state visitors

Legoland California Resort welcomed visitors back on April 15, but only those who live within a 120-mile radius of the park. (Photo courtesy of Legoland California Resort)

LOS ANGELES – Slowly but surely, amusement parks in California are opening their doors to the public, but with limitations.

A limited number of California residents will be allowed to visit Disneyland Resort, Disney California Adventure Resort, Legoland California Resort, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood. Visitors may find shorter lines because those parks are opening at 25% of normal capacity. Under state regulations, amusement park workers must be provided a weekly testing program as the state navigates the latest phase of its reopening.

“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,” Kris Reyes, a spokesperson for trade group California Attractions and Park Association, said in a statement.

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As they reopen, parks are requiring advance reservations for tickets and visitors will be asked to wear masks and take other precautions.

In early April, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is shooting for a full reopening on June 15, which could potentially allow Arizonans to visit the state’s amusement parks this summer.

“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Newsom said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated before traveling between states, so Arizonans clamoring to return to these popular parks as soon as possible can get ahead of things by getting vaccinated in the meantime.

Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim

Two of the biggest and best known amusement parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, will look a lot different when they reopen to the general public April 30.

Disney has adapted dining at the park to allow for contactless pickup on the Disneyland App.

“When we reopen our two theme parks, we will have enhanced health and safety measures, and will limit capacity through a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance,” Michael Ramirez, Disneyland’s public relations director, wrote in a blog post. “Theme park reservations will be available online, in advance only, for a specific date, subject to availability.”

When Disneyland and California Adventure began accepting reservations on April 15, some people had a smooth experience with the new system but others struggled.

Many of the Disneyland staples will be back upon the park’s reopening, but other attractions, such as Main Street Cinema and Goofy’s Playhouse, will remain shut down because of COVID-19 precautions, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park

California’s oldest amusement park will open first to season pass holders on May 6, and then to all Californians on May 21. The park will celebrate its 100th anniversary as part of its reopening this summer.

“Guests will be immersed in a once-in-a-lifetime anniversary celebration featuring festive park decor, themed food items, unique entertainment, exclusive merchandise, and special surprises along the way, all paying homage to the nostalgia that surrounds the historic theme park,” Knott’s said on its website.

Legoland in Carlsbad

Legoland reopened its doors on April 15 to California residents within a 120-mile radius of the park.

“It’s been a long and challenging year for all of us and we are extremely excited to be able to start reopening our resort not only to our guests so they can build family memories, but for our staff who have been patiently waiting to return to work,” Kurt Stocks, president of Legoland California Resort, said in a statement.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia

Six Flags reopened to the general public on April 3, when the park debuted a new reservation system and updated health and safety guidelines. “We are excited to get our park open and our world-class collection of coasters running again,” said Don McCoy, park president.

Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City

Universal Studios Hollywood rolled out its signature red carpet and reopened on April 16, with its popular studio tour and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey reopening. Certain rides, such as the Simpsons Ride and Waterworld, will remain closed as the park adheres to safety guidelines.

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego became the first amusement park in the state to reopen to select visitors from out-of-state who have proof of vaccination against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“Due to the current state COVID-19 guidelines, attendance is limited to California in-state visitors and now out-of-state visitors who are fully vaccinated and show proof of a fully completed COVID-19 vaccine (you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot, or two weeks after the one-dose vaccine) per state COVID-19 restrictions,” SeaWorld San Diego said in its most recent COVID-19 update.

(Data visualization by Leo Tochterman/Cronkite News)
Leo Tochterman Lee-oh Tock-tur-min
Sports Reporter, Los Angeles

Leo Tochterman expects to graduate in December of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. He is working as a digital reporter for Cronkite News in Los Angeles and has interned at The Arizona Republic, KTAR, and KCRA 3 in California.