by Elizabeth Ringas
Please wear your mask! Did we ever think parks in the United States would welcome the wearing of a mask into the park? COVID-19 has changed rules, as well as made our favorite parks find a way to survive safety restrictions. As enthusiasts, we always look for creativity from B&M, Vekoma, RMC, or countless other roller coaster manufacturers to find a new way to thrill us, or for Zamperla to find a new way to spin us, but this year the creativity has come from the amusement parks themselves. Parks across the nation and here in the Mid-Atlantic have reinvented their business model to ensure they are able to return to business as usual when this pandemic passes.
Halloween certainly looks very different this year, but in all the chaos, the parks stepped up their creativity to make it happen.
Six Flags America
Six Flags America rebranded their Halloween feature to Hallowfest, a socially distanced Halloween celebration. The special event doesn’t offer the usual level of fear and thrills, but those who may not be big fans of frights can enjoy a fall evening in the park. The Hallowfest’s after dark experience includes special lighting and fog machines throughout the park as well as oversized seasonal décor to give it the haunted feel. Firebird, Wild One, Superman: Ride of Steel, and Joker’s Jinx are going dark, meaning all the lights are off for some special night rides. Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth has flipped her usual routine and is going backwards! For your Halloween fright, Six Flags America’s train has joined the festivities with a premium attraction, Reaper Railways. Paid reservations are required to ensure that social distancing and capacity restraints can be abided by.
The Halloween-themed stunt show, Battle of the Damned, is back incorporating singing and dancing with the battle story line. Restaurants are featuring fall favorites, and the fire pits have returned with the opportunity to roast a s’more in the park. Special for Hallowfest are gooey caramel apples and funnel cakes made with Snickers have made a seasonal appearance on menus.
For kids, during daylight hours, the Trick-or-Treat trail has returned featuring individually wrapped candy dispensed via social distanced givers. The kid-centric hay bale maze operates in one direction for safety. Tea Cups and Great Race are offering a special Halloween décor version for some added fun! Daylight hours also include four family-friendly outdoor shows.
Six Flags America continues to require reservations to visit the park and integrates social distancing in the park experience with encouragements and reminders for social distancing with ground markers and their “Do The Six” campaign signs. The park continues to operate at reduced capacity, many restaurants require online food ordering to keep lines to a minimum, and most restaurants are not filling drink bottles but offering you a paper cup to fill your own. Some restaurants are offering self-service cup filling. There is a park-wide requirement to wear a mask except in the mask-free relaxation areas that are on the outskirts of park paths. Sinks and hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the park, and guests are required to sit with six-foot spacing from other parties at all shows.
The park is open weekends through December 26th when daily operation begins through January 3rd. For more information visit https://www.sixflags.com/america/special-events/hallowfest
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
How can a park as large as Busch Gardens Williamsburg operate at a maximum capacity of 1,000 people and cover the cost of operation? Through invention and creativity! The park started openings in August with a special event focused on beer and a few rides. The second phase expanded the ride and food offerings in September. Phase 3 is here with Halloween Harvest; now through November 7th , which integrates more thrill rides and kid-friendly fun. https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/events/halloween-harvest/
Halloween Harvest keeps capacity restrictions in place and allows social distancing by having guests purchase a ticket for a four-hour window. To enhance your visit, a tasting card can be purchased that allows you to taste your way around the park’s food and beverage offerings.
Halloween Harvest features the opportunity to catch rides on Apollo’s Chariot, Tempesto, Verbolten, and Loch Ness Monster as well as many other rides. Halloween scares begin at dusk with ghouls and goblins roaming the park. Daytime offers more options for families with more kid-friendly rides open, socially distanced photo opportunities with your Sesame Street friends, and contactless trick-or-treating.
Adventure Park USA
Adventure Park USA is hosting their annual Fall Festi-ALL through November 1st because they already celebrated everything fall outdoors! Separate from their all-day ride wristband, this features fantastic fall activities like a live Native American show (weekends only), Indian Face Painting, riding an excavator(weekends only), zip-line, straw maze, archery, rubber duck races, giant slides, an air pillow, and pumpkin patch. You can reserve your own firepit to enjoy throughout your visit.
Check out more information at https://adventureparkusa.com/groups-parties/fall-festiv-all/
For your safety, the park mandates the wearing of a mask and social distancing. The use of hand sanitizer regularly is recommended.
Fun Land of Fredericksburg
Last year Fun Land of Fredericksburg expanded their Halloween offerings by expanding to an outdoor haunted maze. Due to COVID-19, they have made alterations to incorporate seasonal fun but minimize the requirements for socially distanced queue lines. Haunted laser tag is only available at Fun Land of Fredericksburg, where you can play laser tag alongside socially distanced zombies with some seasonal décor incorporated.
General manager Clint Novak shared with ACE that “This year has been hard, and because of restrictions we had to scale back our event. The idea we came up with was to continue to host laser tag matches, but to have some spooky décor and some scare-actors in there for some added fun. Regular laser tag operates all day and haunted laser tag starts at 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays.”
More info on Halloween at Fun Land at https://www.funlandfredericksburg.com/home
Fun Land of Fredericksburg is focused on COVID-19 safety with temperature checks, masks required, reduced capacity, regular cleaning, and enforced social-distancing.