August 2021

Getting Back in Rhythm

Theme Park Operations Slowly Return to Pre-Pandemic State

By Erik Chalhoub

We all get a little out of practice when we haven’t done something in more than a year.

Tucking in our shirts, interacting with colleagues in person, handshakes…the rust is real.

The same is happening at theme parks, with most reopening in April and May after a year of Covid-19 closures.

I’ve heard horror stories of three-hour waits on GhostRider at Knott’s Berry Farm, where ride operators finally decided to put the second train on the track to speed up the queue … an hour after the park closed for the night. Ouch.

Countless rides, after being dormant for so long, are having random breakdowns and other operational quirks that are putting them out of service for some time. It sounds like they need to get back into their rhythm.

And speaking of getting back into a rhythm, many ride operators can be slow to get trains dispatched, likely dazed and confused because they haven’t seen so many people in a long time. Just like the rest of us.

We are now deep into the summer theme park season, the first we’ve had since 2019. The crowds are here, and likely to get even larger as families take one more trip to the parks before school begins again.

The moral of the story is, be patient. Your favorite ride may not be open, or the queue lines may be longer than usual. Be understanding. There’s a lot of rust going around.

Reserve no more?
The reservation system, which theme parks were using to limit attendance as a way to comply with Covid-19 safety requirements, are slowly going away.
The Boardwalk has eliminated its reservation system, as have Six Flags parks in California. However, as of mid-July, California’s Great America and Gilroy Gardens still require reservations, so make sure you check online with those parks before traveling over the hill.

Face mask requirements vary, so check with the park before you visit. The Boardwalk is relying on an honor system, and no longer requires fully vaccinated guests to wear a mask inside the park. However, all unvaccinated visitors are only “recommended” to wear a mask, according to its guidelines updated June 15.

New coaster for 2022
Six Flags Magic Mountain is cooking up something big for 2022.
According to documents submitted to the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, Magic Mountain is preparing to construct a new roller coaster at its northern end, located in the DC Universe section of the park. The coaster is described in the plans as an “RMC,” which is the abbreviation of the famed Idaho-based roller coaster manufacturer Rocky Mountain Construction.

The plans show what appears to be a single-rail coaster, a larger version of California’s Great America’s RailBlazer, also designed by Rocky Mountain Construction. The coaster traverses the plot where the Green Lantern coaster once sat, as well as the Tidal Wave water ride, which is currently being dismantled to make room for the new coaster.

The coaster has not yet been officially announced. But it’s thrilling to see that new rides are back in the works, as this time last year we were all worried about if our favorite parks would ever open their gates again.

National Roller Coaster Day
Aug. 16 is National Roller Coaster Day, and especially this year, we have much to be thankful for.

National Roller Coaster Day marks the moment when manufacturer Edwin Prescott was awarded a patent for the one of the first looping roller coasters on Coney Island in New York on Aug. 16, 1898.

The Boardwalk will celebrate National Roller Coaster Day the day before on Aug. 15. The first 100 riders to take a spin on the 97-year-old Giant Dipper will receive a Boardwalk souvenir cup.

On this National Roller Coaster Day, let’s celebrate by taking part in our favorite pastime and reflect on how far we have come over the last year-and-a-half of the devastating pandemic. Better days and bigger thrills are ahead.

Save the Dates
The Boardwalk will be welcoming Scouts to camp overnight at the historic amusement park, and registration is now open for the October events.

The Fall Girl Scout Overnight takes place Oct. 1-2, followed by the Fall Scout Overnight on Oct. 8-9.

To register, visit

As of mid-July, Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood are the only two California theme parks that have announced they will be bringing back a Halloween event for 2021, both beginning in September. Stay tuned to see how the typical in-your-face scarefests are modified for the pandemic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *