More than seven months after the park’s scheduled 2020 opening, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois will welcome back guests for its third annual Holiday in the Park event.
The COVID-19 pandemic edition, however, comes with a major change: No rides will be running.
“Due to Illinois safety guidelines, rides won’t be operating at Holiday in the Park Lights,” park spokesperson Caitlin Kepple told WGN-TV. “It’s strictly a holiday lights experience.”
What will be available at the event will be holiday stage shows, all hosted outdoors with physical distancing in place, character greetings, seasonal food and light displays throughout the 300-acre property.
There will also be plenty of safety measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. Advance reservations will be required, including for Six Flags members and Great America season passholders, to manage limited attendance. Guests will have to go through contactless thermal imaging screenings and face masks will be required throughout the park.
“Visiting Great America’s Holiday in the Park has become a much loved family tradition and we look forward to welcoming guests back to our park to celebrate the season,” Six Flags Great America Park President Hank Salemi said in a press release. “As always, the safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, and our new health and wellness protocols create an environment that allows everyone to safely experience the magic of the holidays.”
The event will run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on select nights starting Nov. 27 through Dec. 27. Single-day tickets will cost $20 and include free parking. Members and passholders will receive priority booking.
Six Flags Great America was the 20th-most visited theme park in the U.S. in 2019, according to the Themed Entertainment Association. In 2020, however, only the adjacent Hurricane Harbor water park was allowed to reopen during the pandemic, with theme parks only returning when Illinois hits the fifth and final phase of its reopening plan — which the state says will only happen when a vaccine or an effective treatment for COVID-19 are available.
On Thursday, Illinois announced its highest one-day count of COVID-19 cases with 4,015 new cases. Wisconsin, just to the north of Six Flags Great America, also set a new one-day record Thursday by announding 3,747 new cases. There is a significant difference, however, in the state’s rate of positive tests as a percentage of all COVID-19 tests taken over the past week: for Illinois, its statewide rate is 4.9 percent, while in Wisconsin, it’s 10.6 percent.
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