WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Months after closing its doors because of COVID-19, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is opening a portion of its park for a special 11-day event.
It’s called Coasters and Craft Brews. It kicks off August 6 and runs through August 16.
There are enhanced health and safety protocols for cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing, face-covering requirements, and temperature screenings. There are more than 350 signs reminding visitors of the enhanced measures, not counting the ground stickers.
Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher can't enter the park. There's frequent sanitation, but also deep cleaning at the end of every four-hour event. Plexiglas is in place at dining areas to separate visitors and team members. Contactless payment is highly encouraged. Tables are spread out or unavailable to guests. Team members will also serve food to guests.
There will be line managers at rides to direct crowds and ensure distancing. Hand sanitizer is set up at ride entrances and exits.
There's also limited capacity at the park. Busch Gardens is only allowed to open with a guest cap of 1,000 people. That's based on the current state restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Busch Gardens' in-park capacity is 24,000 people.
President of Busch Gardens Williamsburg Kevin Lembke originally opted to keep the park closed, arguing the Governor's 1,000-person limit was not economically sustainable. He said they came up with a plan that will allow them to operate.
“It’s a great opportunity to welcome people back in a way that makes sense for us right now and we’ll continue to operate within the guidelines provided and if those change then we’ll look to expand,” Lembke said.
Lembke said they're exploring other options to open in the future.
“We take it very seriously,” Lembke said. “We want guests to have fun, but we want to do it in a safe way.”
Victoria Goldsby is the co-owner of Column 15 Coffee, just a few miles from Busch Gardens. She said Busch Gardens' reopening will benefit the local economy.
“We expect to see an uptick in customers once Busch Gardens opens,” Goldsby said.
Goldsby also understands it's a tough decision to make, as coronavirus cases remain high in Hampton Roads.
“You want to minimize the spread of infection, but on the other hand you want to keep money in local economy to help business owners, so it's complicated,” Goldsby said.
You can find out more about Coasters and Craft Brews here.