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California Theme Parks are Reopening!

Mickey Mouse at Disneyland

In another sign that our world is inching back to normal, California theme parks are announcing that they are reopening this month. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they will be opening to California residents only for a short while before the rest of us can visit. According to the State of California requirements, only “in-state visitors” may make a purchase and/or reservation at the current time and proof of residency may be required upon entrance. Each park will have a smaller limited capacity as well.

Of course, these parks won’t be exactly like you left them from your last visit. Social distancing measures will be in place and mask-wearing is a must. And any type of crowd-gathering events like parades and firework shows have been nixed for the time being. But those things won’t really dampen your experience. (You can get an idea of what it is like visiting a theme park during a pandemic here.)

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain opens this weekend with the premiere of West Coast Racers. It’s the world’s first single track quadruple launch racing coaster, which is sort of difficult to take in. Here is how they explain it: “Unlike traditional coasters, this first of its kind racing coaster features two side-by-side tracks with four individual high-speed launches. The race covers two complete laps, multiple airtime hills, extreme high-banked turns and exhilarating over/under near misses. A highlight of the ride is an immersive real time “pit stop” designed and produced by world famous West Coast Customs that will provide you with a racing experience unlike any other.”

West Coast Racers (Six Flags)

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they will be jumping ahead of Disneyland opening on April 16, 2021 with one brand new attraction (“The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!”) and one revamped one (“Jurassic World—The Ride). The momentous occasion will commence with a special park preview for Annual and Season Pass Members starting on April 15, 2021.

Tickets can be purchased online beginning on Thursday, April 8. The theme park will also celebrate Annual and Season Pass Members—who will be among the first to visit—with a series of complimentary Bonus Days on select days from Thursday, April 15 through Sunday, May 16; these Bonus Days can be reserved by Annual and Season Pass Members online starting on Monday, April 5.  Annual and Season Pass Members will be able to resume regular use of their passes starting on Monday, May 17.

While most rides will be operational, some rides and attractions will reopen at a later date as the theme park complies with government restrictions.

A stroll along the cleverly themed Pets Place will bring guests to the front of Katie’s NYC apartment building where the innovative “The Secret Life of Pets:  Off the Leash!” ride resides.

This all-new tech-savvy adventure inspired by Illumination’s blockbuster The Secret Life of Pets films, answers the question, “What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home?”

This impressive new ride combines 64 technologically-advanced animated figures with hyper-realistic media and projection mapping designed to take guests on a journey to meet some of their favorite Illumination characters from the movies, including Max, Snowball, Gidget, Chloe and Duke, along with a host of other animal friends, who have all been transformed and transported into the live-action world. From blinking eyes to eyebrow movements, from head tilts to head nods, from moving mouths to smiles, from ear curls to lip curls, from full torso twists to physically walking, the depth of mobility and function programmed within each of these loveable characters creates an experience unlike any other theme park ride.

The grand reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood also brings guests face-to-face with “Jurassic World—The Ride’s” all-new, extraordinarily realistic dinosaur, the Indominus rex, who stakes her claim at the ride’s finale in a forceful battle with her arch-rival, the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Breaking new ground with highly complex innovations, this fully-articulated lifelike Indominus injects intense new thrills, excitement and intrigue to the already dynamic ride.  Spanning nearly 55 feet horizontally from head to tail and over 22 feet vertically, the Indominus’ imposing presence will be amplified by the fluidity of her motions and synchronized movements that deliver an unprecedented level of authenticity.  From the subtle blinking of her eyes, the flexing of her arms and claws and clenching of her jaw as she bears her razor-sharp teeth, the colossal Indominus rex will lunge from her hillside setting, stalking guests just before they descend the giant waterfall drop to escape her grasp.

Pictured: “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!” all-new ride at Universal Studios Hollywood — (Photo by: Universal Studios Hollywood)

Disneyland and California Adventure

Waiting a little longer, Disneyland and California Adventure won’t open until April 30, 2021. Expect some attractions to be closed and others to be altered to accommodate social distancing, but guest can look forward to seeing the new reimagined Show White ride in Fantasyland. Changing its name from Snow White’s Scary Adventures to Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, this new ride is a much more cheery which little ones may appreciate. The biggest change you’ll notice is that your kids will have to interact with their favorite characters from afar instead of up close and personal.

The Hotels of the Disneyland Resort also plan to welcome guests once again, with a phased reopening. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa plans to reopen on April 29, 2021, with limited capacity. Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will plan to reopen May 2. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel will reopen at a later date.

The Disneyland Resort will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. To enter a park, both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date are required for guests ages 3 and up. Theme park reservations will be limited and subject to availability.

Certain experiences that draw large group gatherings – such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date.

Main Image: Disneyland Resort

Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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