Six Flags will reopen its first park next week under modified operations after the novel coronavirus forced the company to shut its gates in mid-March, the company said Tuesday.
On June 5, its Frontier City theme park in Oklahoma City will begin operating at a limited capacity and will gradually increase throughout the month. For the first two days of its phased reopening, the park will be limited to members and season pass holders only, before opening up to the general public.
According to the Texas-based company's guidelines, all guests over the age of two, as well as staff will be required to wear face masks that cover their nose and mouth throughout the day. Any guest without a mask will be able to purchase one at the front gate.
However, "accommodations may be made on a case-by-case basis for persons with disabilities, health concerns, religious restrictions, or other circumstances that in Six Flags’ discretion warrant a modification of this face mask requirement," Six Flags said.
Six Flags parks closed their gates earlier this year in order to stem the spread of the virus, only adding to the list of woes the company has faced even before the pandemic hit. In February, the company reported an $11.2 million fourth-quarter loss as attendance at its amusement parks dwindled, a sharp reversal from its $79.4 million profit from the year prior.
However, following Tuesday's news, shares of Six Flags Entertainment Corp. closed nearly 10 percent higher.
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As the park begins to phase in operations, other enhanced safety measures including bag checks, temperature checks, expanding mobile ordering, and enhanced sanitation protocols and signage to encourage social distancing..
Guests will also be separated by empty rows or seats on all roller coasters, rides and attractions. Employees will also be tasked with disinfecting rides, restraints and handrails throughout the day.
"The health and safety of our guests and team members remains our number one priority,” said Frontier City general manager Trevor Leonard. “All government officials, along with city and county health departments, have been extremely supportive of our efforts to reopen in accordance with state and local guidelines.”
According to Six Flags CEO Mike Spanos, the park is more than ready to accommodate what he calls a "new normal."
"Frontier City, like all Six Flags parks, is an outdoor attraction that poses a significantly lower risk of exposure than indoor venues. Our guests are not confined to one space for lengthy periods," said Spanos. "Because our parks cover dozens or even hundreds of acres, we can easily manage guest throughput to achieve proper social distancing."
The park will also employ a reservation system that will help to manage attendance, schedule guests for entry by day and stagger arrival times to minimize proximity exposure, the company said.
"This ’new normal’ will be very different, but we believe these additional measures are appropriate in the current environment," Spanos added.