Legoland California Resort is officially reopening. Just last week, Kurt Stocks, president of the theme park and aquarium, announced it is preparing to reopen as soon as April 1.
In February, the Legoland Castle Hotel reopened in line with California’s safety guidelines. Earlier this month, the theme park and aquarium launched its “Build ‘N Play Days” Fridays, which is allowing visitors to enjoy some of its outdoor attractions while socially distancing. The series is slated to run through May 5 and has allowed the park to rehire some of its 2,000 to 3,0000 staff members, most of which had been furloughed since last March.
Now that San Diego County is officially in the red tier thanks to two consecutive weeks below the 10.0 case rate threshold – and Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced theme parks may reopen at limited capacity as early as April 1 as a result – Legoland is preparing to reactivate most if not all of its attractions and let guests back on the grounds in a more formal manner.
“It’s been a long and challenging year for all of us and we are extremely excited to be able to reopen our resort, not only to our guests so they can build family memories, but for our staff who have been patiently waiting to return to work,” said Stocks. “As we bring staff back and hire new employees, we… look forward to reopening safely and responsibly.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Legoland has implemented a long list of safety measures intended to reduce the risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19 upon reopening. This includes reduced capacity, effecting cashless payments, social distancing practices via use of signage and floor markers and enhanced cleaning regimes.
“Face coverings will be required for all guests two years of age and up as well as all staff members,” said Julie Estrada, head of public relations North America for Merlin Entertainments, the British company that owns and operates Legoland California Resort.
Additionally, the park will conduct touchless bag checks and non-invasive temperature checks on guests upon check-in, she said. All staffers will be trained on these newly implemented and CDC-mandated protocols and the resort will have adjusted operating hours to start as well.
These procedures have been meticulously drafted and compiled by park executives since Legoland’s closing roughly a year ago, according to the company.
“While you’ve been away, we’ve been working around the clock to ready Legoland for a new way forward,” said Stocks via a video message on the Legoland California website. “As always, the safety of our guests and our resort staff is our top priority.”
Proof of Vaccine
Robert Rauch, chairman and CEO of San Diego-based RAR Hospitality, says safety planning will be paramount in keeping the spread of the virus down and making visitors feel safe. He also predicts that in the near future, proof of vaccine will be required as an added measure.
“Theme parks in California already have their plans set to do this as well as providing barriers between employees and guests, touch-free cashier stations, sanitizing stations, limiting capacity and distancing markers between guests on line,” he said. “While we have opted not to require proof of vaccine for our guests or our employees, this may change toward Memorial Day Weekend when most Americans will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated.”
Rauch, a renowned local hospitality operator, owns three hotels in San Diego and others in Los Angeles and Arizona. He added that the reopening of theme parks like Legoland, albeit limited capacity, will significantly impact the local economy and its recovery.
Tax Revenue to the City
“Attractions of all kinds are critical to the success of the lodging and restaurant industries as families want to be able to visit attractions, beaches, restaurants and retail,” he said. “Once everything is open, even with significant capacity constraints, the tourism economy will improve. This then adds tax revenue to the city, improves employment and jumpstarts the recovery.”
Julie Coker, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority, concurs.
“It is heartening to see San Diego move in the right direction and advancing to the red tier provides a real, tangible step forward for so many of our tourism and hospitality businesses, including theme parks, museums and restaurants,” she said.
Forward looking, Rauch recommends operators bring back laid-off workers with their Payment Protection Program 2 funds, if possible.
“We are going to need them for a busy summer season,” he said.