Need an adrenaline rush after a long year of being cooped up inside? Disneyland, Universal and more have already kicked off the summer fun — though it will still look a little different than years past

By Sophie Dodd
May 12, 2021 05:59 PM
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Theme park lovers, rejoice! After a year of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, amusement parks across the country are beginning to open up to visitors once again. 

Disney, Universal, Six Flags and more parks and resorts have new safety regulations in place to protect visitors and their employees, ranging from increased sanitation and timed tickets, to limiting who can attend.  

Below, we've rounded up all the details you need to know about when your favorite theme parks will reopen this summer. This information is accurate as of the publish date, and you can find more on their respective websites. Happy thrill-seeking!

Disneyland
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Disneyland

Disneyland Resort and Disney's California Adventure Park officially reopened to California residents on April 30, 2021.

At this time, the parks are open only to California residents and require advanced reservations in order to comply with state guidelines. 

Get ready to see all the beloved classic characters — but from a slight physical distance. Large gatherings, including parades and evening fireworks displays, are currently canceled and will return at a later date. 

Resort hotels, including Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, have begun reopening in phases with reduced capacity. You can keep tabs on the attractions that are currently open here.  

Cinderella Castle and Main Street, U.S.A. are seen at Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
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Walt Disney World 

All four Walt Disney World theme parks, as well as Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, are currently open to the public. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park remains closed until further notice. 

Advanced reservations are required and can be made via the Disney Park Pass system, which has an updated calendar of each park's availability. Face coverings are required in all public areas, except while swimming or dining. Temperature screening as part of the parks' increased safety protocols will end May 16. Character greetings, parades and nighttime spectaculars are currently paused. More information is available here

Hershey Park
Credit: Hershey Park

Hersheypark

Get ready for a delicious day at the park! Hershey, PA's chocolate-inspired theme park is open with increased sanitation protocols and physical distancing guidelines. Season Pass Holders and guests of the Official Resorts of Hersheypark are guaranteed entry without a reservation. More information on their safety protocols is available on their website

What's new and noteworthy? The Chocolatier, a full-service restaurant and bar, will open Memorial Day weekend. 

Dollywood sign
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Dollywood

Had enough of your "9 to 5"? Take a break at Dollywood! The Pigeon Forge, TN, park reopened on March 12, with enhanced safety protocols and reduced capacity. Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa and Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Cabins are open, and Dollywood's Splash Country water park reopens May 15.

"Our people are doing a great job to care for our guests, and I'm just glad that everyone is seeing what the good folks at Dollywood have been doing to make it one of the best family destinations in the entire country," the park's namesake and founder Dolly Parton told Travel + Leisure. 

Book your tickets in advance for Dollywood's Flower & Food Festival, which runs between April 23 and June 7, or Dollywood's Summer Celebration, from June 25 to July 3. The latter features nightly fireworks and extended opening hours. More information on the park's reopening is available on their website

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Universal Studios Hollywood
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Universal Studios Hollywood

The park is open to California residents or out-of-state visitors ages 16 and up who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Tickets must be purchased in advance here

Most rides will be operational, but some rides, shows and other attractions will reopen at a later date. 

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, the Volcano Bay water park and Universal CityWalk have all reopened with reduced capacity and COVID safety measures in place. The resort recently ended temperature screenings and reduced physical distancing from six feet to three. Face masks are still a requirement. More information on their updated protocols is available on their website

Hotels included in their phased reopening include Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites. At this time, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal's Aventura Hotel and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites remain closed.

Inside Six Flags Magic Mountain Amusement Park Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Parks

Six Flags parks around the country are opening on an individual basis, with many of the theme parks and water parks already back up and running and the rest to reopen this summer. 

"Our guests and team members are ready for the return of fun and signature Six Flags thrills in 2021," Bonnie Weber, senior vice president of Park Operations, said in a press release earlier this year, according to CNN. "Last year, we set the standard for operating our parks safely, and entertained millions of guests in adherence to government, and CDC health guidelines at 21 of our 26 parks. We offered a local and outdoor entertainment venue spanning dozens to hundreds of acres where families and friends could safely spend time together."

Masks will be required in all parks, as will advanced reservations and social distancing. 

SEAWORLD
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SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando is open daily to the public with enhanced safety and distancing protocols, and advanced tickets must be purchased for entry. 

Most rides are open at this time. Rides including Slimey's Slider, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, Wild Arctic and Sky Tower are currently closed, although the Antarctica and Wild Arctic habitats are both open. Ice Breaker is anticipated to open sometime this year. 

Modifications will be made to certain animal interactions, and some tours will be restricted to one party at a time. Additionally, certain aspects of parades and meet-and-greets will be modified or paused in order to comply with distancing guidelines. 

Sea World San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego officially reopened to California residents and out-of-state visitors with proof of a fully-completed COVID vaccination on April 12. Most rides are open, with a number coming soon, including Manta, Journey to Atlantis and Riptide Rescue, according to their website. The Skytower and Tidal Twister are currently closed. 

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Busch Gardens
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Busch Gardens

The Tampa Bay resort is currently open Thursdays through Sundays, and will resume daily operation after Memorial Day Weekend. Many of their roller coasters and other attractions are open, while a handful remain closed. An updated list can be found on their website

Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is running through May 23, and the park has a number of fun-filled events lined up for the rest of the year. More information can be found on their website

theme parks
Legoland California
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Legoland

Legoland's kid-friendly parks are reopening on an individual basis. 

Their new Goshen, New York, park is set to debut this summer. Legoland Florida is open to the public, and guests can now book a stay at the all-new LEGOLAND Pirate Island Hotel.

Legoland California Resort reopened to California residents and out-of-state residents with proof of COVID-19 vaccination on April 12, and is operating with increased sanitation protocols. Updated information on their reopening procedures and which rides are running is available here

"It's been a long and challenging year for all of us and we are extremely excited to be able to start reopening our Resort not only to our guests so they can build family memories, but for our staff who have been patiently waiting to return to work, " LEGOLAND California Resort President Kurt Stocks said in a statement on their website. 

theme parks
Knott's Berry Farm
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Knott's Berry Farm

The family-friendly Buena Park, CA, destination is already open to season pass holders, and announced its grand reopening to the public for May 21, with reservation requirements and limited capacity. 

As part of the park's 100th Anniversary Celebration, which runs through September 6, guests can expect new attractions such as Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, "a 4-D interactive dark ride that pays tribute to the classic attraction from 35 years ago," according to their website. 

New characters will be roaming the park as well, and Knott's Summer Nights will be back with live music, DJs, and other entertainment as well as food and drink specials.