California’s theme parks have been closed since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but some parks have found creative ways to open their doors to the public. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom opened its animal attractions to produce the Marine World Experience – a throwback to the park’s zoological origin. Knott’s Berry Farm started Taste of Knott’s – a food festival that takes place inside the park at a time when rides are not allowed to operate.
SeaWorld San Diego is the latest park to modify its business model – the park will open just its animal exhibits to the public on select days beginning August 28th with an event called Zoo Days: Bayside BBQ and Brews. Park hours will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Guests will be able to interact with their favorite animals and have some award-winning food to make for a perfect end-of-the-summer day!
While some animal exhibits will be closed-off or modified to be in accordance with state regulations, park guests will be able to see Bat Rays, Flamingos, Sea Lions, Dolphins, and Orcas, as well as watch SeaWorld’s classic animal shows – Sea Lions Live, Dolphin Days, and Orca Encounter. You’ll also be able to relax by Mission Bay with a delightful assortment of craft beers and mouth-watering BBQ!
Here’s what to expect when you make your first visit to SeaWorld San Diego based off of what we’ve seen implemented at other SeaWorld parks:
To make sure that park capacity is within safe levels, guests will have to reserve a spot online in order to access the park. To reserve your spot, head to SeaWorld’s website to purchase tickets. Since the event comes with a 6-item sampler, both season passholders and non-passholders will have to purchase tickets. Annual passholders pay a significantly discounted price, and their passes will continue to be extended for as long as the park undergoes limited operations. In addition to purchasing tickets online, you can also purchase parking tickets, reserved show seating, and animal encounters on the parks’ website.
Entering the Park
All park guests will need to pass a temperature screening to enter the park. At SeaWorld Orlando, screenings happen inside a large air-conditioned tent and are conducted with touchless thermometers. If your temperature is below the California guideline of 100° F, then you will be allowed to enter the park. If you are measured above that value, you will be taken to a secondary location to re-test. If your temperature is again determined to be above 100° F, you will not be allowed to enter the park.
Facial coverings are required for all park guests two years of age and older – no exceptions. Masks can be removed while eating or drinking, or in designated relaxation areas of the park. SeaWorld-branded masks will also be sold in the park’s gift shops.
Park guests must maintain 6 feet of distance between separate parties. SeaWorld facilitates this by placing strategic stickers on the ground. When you visit the park, make sure to keep distance between you and other people. The park’s amphitheaters will also be marked to allow 6 feet distance between groups. According to SeaWorld, “new layouts and processes will be implemented to maintain adequate distancing at restaurants, shops, and attractions.” These measures further ensure safety for all guests.
When you visit the park, one of the major things you’ll notice is how there are hand sanitizer stations everywhere. In addition to the park’s restrooms, extra hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer locations are set up around the park. The park also encourages contactless payments like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Google Wallet, but cash and credit cards will also be accepted.
If you have any questions about the park, make sure to visit SeaWorld’s website and Frequently Asked Questions page. We are super excited to get back to the park after a 5-month break and support the amazing work that SeaWorld does, including rescuing over 300 animals while the park was closed! It’s great that SeaWorld has decided to embrace its zoological roots and open just like it did over 55 years ago.
Cover image courtesy SeaWorld San Diego