The global pandemic has been a massive blow to the theme park industry as a whole. However, most theme parks in the U.S., and many others around the world are open for business, even if they're functioning at a fraction of their normal capacity. However, the biggest theme parks in California, like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood remain closed, and, based on the state of California's current guidelines, it seems likely that will remain the case for sometime. Although, not all California theme parks are forced to stay closed now, and one major location is actually set to reopen.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has announced that it will reopen beginning this Saturday November 7. Bowling and mini golf will be reopening, as will a selection of amusement rides, that will be open on weekends only. Those rides will include the park's flagship Giant Dipper roller coaster and about nine other rides of the 37 available in the park.
The limited number of attractions is likely more a function of the time of year than a health and safety measure. November is the off-season for the Boardwalk. Santa Cruz doesn't have quite as many sunny days as Southern California and under normal circumstances the park would not see that many guests this time of year. Though likely more than it will be able to accept now. As per state guidelines, reservations must be made in advance for guests to get access to that part of the amusement park.
California's guidelines require that large theme parks remain closed until the virus rates in those counties drop to the lowest of California's four-tiered system. However, theme parks that have a maximum capacity of less than 15,000 people are allowed to open in the third tier. They can open to a maximum of either 500 people or 25% of maximum capacity, whichever number is smaller. Santa Cruz County has reached that level, and so, the Boardwalk can open, the Boardwalk will allow 300 people in the amusement ride section at any one time. If you're thinking you might race off to Santa Cruz just to be able to visit an amusement park, that's not going to work. The state guidelines also state that only people who live in Santa Cruz County can visit the park.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been featured on film a number of times. Most recently in Jordan Peele's horror movie Us. Most famously, Santa Cruz stood in for the town of Santa Carla in the 1980s hit The Lost Boys.
While Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a small amusement park by Disneyland standards, it may be the largest one to reopen in California for some time. While much of Northern California seems to be recovering slowly from the pandemic, much of the southern part of the state is still dealing with higher infection rates. At this point it seems unlikely that Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood will be opening before 2021.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.