After postponing its original April 4 opening day, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson is finally set to open July 3; and Funplex Amusement Centers in East Hanover and Mount Laurel will reopen on July 2.
“We’ve been busy preparing for this day,” said Funplex Amusement Centers owner Randy Lahn in a prepared statement. “We have been offering families a local place to ride, splash, eat and play for over 20 years, without any extended shut downs; we are looking forward to seeing happy families again soon.”
The opening dates come after Gov. Murphy’s announcement Tuesday permitting parks to open at 50 percent capacity in July.
Six Flags members and season pass holders get exclusive access to the park on July 3, and the general public is welcome at a limited capacity July 4. The park will gradually increase attendance levels throughout the month.
A preview date for Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is forthcoming.
“Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor are beloved outdoor destinations for so many in the Northeast, and we look forward to welcoming families back to our parks. The safety of our guests and team members remains our number one priority, and the new safety guidelines we have put in place are designed to create a safe environment for everyone,” said Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor Park President John Winkler in a statement.
“We greatly appreciate the support of Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Deputy Chief of Staff Mike DeLamater, Senate President Steve Sweeney, the New Jersey Amusement Association, and Gov. Phil Murphy throughout this reopening process,” Winkler said.
Six Flags developed the parks’ reopening plan in consultation with epidemiologists, it said. It meets or exceeds federal, state, and local guidelines for sanitization, hygiene, and social distancing protocols, according to Six Flags.
“We have developed a comprehensive reopening safety plan that includes protocols designed by theme park and waterpark industry experts, along with best practices from top destination parks from around the world, which will allow guests to experience our parks in the safest way possible,” said Six Flags President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Spanos in a statement.
Attendance will be managed in an online reservation system to stagger guest arrival times to minimize proximity exposure.
Funplex will also require reservations. It’ll be open at 12 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. on weekends; and it’ll remain open until 9 p.m. Its Splashplex water park will close an hour beforehand.
At Six Flags, thermal imaging technology will be used for temperature checks with guests and staff, advanced security screening technology will help deploy touchless bag checks, and concession areas will allow mobile food ordering.
Additionally, Six Flags employees and guests will be required to acknowledge and abide by the company’s health policies, which prohibit park entry if guests have recently been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and everyone over 2 years old will be required to wear face masks covering the nose and mouth throughout their visit or work day. Masks will be available for sale for any guest without one and not be required on waterslides, water attractions, or in pools.
Social distancing will be strictly enforced, a Six Flags announcement said, with distance markers at entries, rides, restrooms, retail locations and eateries. On rides, guests will be separated by empty rows or seats. Capacity at indoor venues and on some attractions such as the Wave Pool and Lazy River, will be reduced to allow for social distancing.
At Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, families are encouraged to provide coast-guard approved lifejackets for children under 42 inches or those who are not strong swimmers. The limited number of Hurricane Harbor lifejackets available for the park to loan out will be sanitized after every guest use.
High touch points will be sanitized and disinfected throughout the day, including public seating, tabletops, counters, doors, trash cans, deck chairs, and tubes and rafts.
Hand washing and alcohol-based hand-sanitizer stations will be located throughout the parks.
At eateries around Six Flags, self-service buffets and salad bars will be reconfigured to eliminate guest contact with food and condiments; self-serve cutlery and napkins will be provided with meals as required. Employees will handle the serving of beverages.
“This ‘new normal’ will be different in some ways, but we believe these additional measures are appropriate in the current environment,” Spanos said.
Initially, attendance will be capped well below the park’s capacity to allow for social distancing. Utilizing the online reservation system will take 5-7 minutes, according to the company. Not all rides, retail, or food locations will be available on opening day. Attractions will be open as they become available, Six Flags said.
At Funplex, social distancing measures will also be encouraged with floor demarcations and signage, high touch points will be frequently disinfected, and employees will undergo pre-shift health and temperature checks.
“For several weeks we have been working diligently on a comprehensive plan to reopen our parks in a safe and responsible manner. This plan includes both physical and sanitation practice enhancements derived from industry best practices, CDC and state guidance, and learnings from amusement and water parks across the globe,” said Funplex CEO Brian Williams in a prepared statement. “We believe our guests will quickly see these enhancements in action and we hope to provide them with a much needed escape.”