SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will require guests to make online reservations before visiting their parks when they reopen June 11.
Capacity will be limited at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, as well as the adjacent Adventure Island and Aquatica Orlando water parks, to allow for physical distancing between guests and to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Online reservations will help better manage the demand. They will even be required for guests with Fun Cards and annual passes, who are accustomed to spur-of-the-moment park visits.
“Over the past two months, we have worked with state and local health officials, third party medical and epidemiology experts, and attraction industry leaders to enhance our strict health, safety, and cleanliness standard,” SeaWorld Entertainment interim CEO Marc Swanson said in a statement. “We are committed to the health and safety of our guests, employees, and animals in our care, and will continue to follow the guidance from health officials as conditions evolve.”
This won’t be a change for animal interaction park Discovery Cove, which already required advance reservations.
Guests can make reservations on the SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay websites beginning at 10 a.m. eastern time on June 8.
Other theme parks both in and out of Florida are taking a similar approach to manage their newly-limited capacities during the pandemic. Walt Disney World will require reservations when it reopens in July, while regional park chains like Six Flags and Cedar Fair will do the same as their parks open state by state.
It’s one of many operational changes theme parks are making to reopen after the pandemic kept them closed since mid-March. Both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens will require guests to undergo temperature checks before entering and all guests over the age of 2 will have to wear face masks while inside the parks.
The highly-anticipated Iron Gwazi hybrid coaster, which began testing at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay just before the closure, “won’t be ready for our reopening on June 11,” according to a tweet from Busch Gardens.
This story was updated after publication with information about Iron Gwazi not opening with the rest of Busch Gardens.
COVID-19 suggestions for Orlando theme parks leave gaps in guest, employee safety
SeaWorld says it can survive coronavirus shutdown until 2021
Disney gets a pass when companies cut ties with SeaWorld over animal welfare