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Sheikra, Brian Krosnick

Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay has announced it will be reopening on June 11, which is great news for anyone who has been eagerly awaiting a trip back to the park after a nearly three month closure. Like with all theme parks that are now beginning to reopen their gates, it comes with a comprehensive list of measures and procedures that will now be in place, due to COVID-19.

Clearly displayed at the top of their official website are the words, "Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit." 

It then refers guests to review important safety guidelines which states that, "We have worked diligently with state and local health officials, outside consultants and attraction industry leaders to enhance our already strict health, safety and cleanliness standards. These protocols and guidelines will be modified based on evolving industry standards and methodologies, public health and governmental directives, and advancing scientific knowledge on the transmissibility of COVID-19." Like many theme parks, this safety guidelines page is like a living and evolving document so be sure to review it fully just before you make your decision to go, as changes may have been made.

Image: Busch Gardens

In order for Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay to manage capacity when the park reopens all guests with tickets, Fun Cards or Annual Passes must make a reservation before going to the park and their ticket/card and their reservation eticket must then be taken with them to the park in order to gain entry.

To reserve tickets you must visit the reservation page from 10EST June 8th. Reservations are not able to be made until that time. Currently on their official website the park will be closed every Tuesday and Wedenesday right through until the end of August. This may change, so check the parks calendar.

To further information on the tickets available and to purchase them, visit Busch Gardens Tampa official website.

Cheetah Hunt
Image: Brian Krosnick

As with all Health and Safety Guidelines, each theme parks list is understandably comprehensive and exhaustive. The list of measures for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay comply to government guidelines and aim to try to keep all guests and employees as safe as possible at a time when COVID-19 is still present. They are split into two sections under the headings, Overall Park Enhancements To Ensure Employee & Guest Safety and Specific Enhancements To Key Operational Areas are summarised below:

  • Employee and Guest Temperature Screening - The CDC temperature recommendation of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will be used.
  • Face coverings - must be worn by all employees and guests (2 years and older) while in the park, apart from when eating and drinking, or in designated relaxation areas of the park. (For further clarification on this, see below)
  • 6 ft (2m) physical distancing throughout the park - signage and markings will be put down to help in the implementation of this.
  • Contactless payments encouraged.
  • Plexi-glass installed in high-traffic or close-contact areas.
  • Significantly increased frequency of cleaning for all key areas of the parks (as well as employee spaces).
  • Increased number of hand sanitization stations across the park.
  • Staff required to stay home if they are feeling sick/unwell. CDC self-isolation and symptom free periods will have to be followed when necessary. 
  • COVID-19 specific training to be completed for all employees, covering all new enhanced park operating procedures.
  • Physical distancing markings added to ride queue lines and seating adjusted on rides to maintain physical distancing.
  • Touchless turnstiles for entry with enhanced cleaning protocols put in place and spacings to maintain physical distance when guests are entering the park.
  • Arranged seating layouts in restaurants, sanitization of tables and chairs with increased frequency, closing of condiment and topping stations, single-use menus, pre-packaged options will be added.
  • Buffet-style service will be adjusted accordingly or closed.
  • Physical distancing markers in shops with bagging and wrapping materials being given to customers.
  • Character interactions in meet-and-greets, parades and photos will be modified or removed.
  • Enhanced safety standards applied to Employee areas with signage regarding health and safety, increased hand sanitizer stations, cleaning and protocols in dining areas.
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