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story.lead_photo.caption A motorist drives past Magic Springs Theme and Water Park in September 2017. - File photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record

Magic Springs Theme and Water Park announced Thursday it will open its doors for the 2020 season on June 1.

In accordance with a plan approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as part of the state's Ready for Business initiative, Magic Springs will put in place redoubled, rigorous sanitizing protocols, social distancing efforts and will continue to follow the guidance of state health agencies to provide "a summer of safe outdoor family fun in the sun during these extraordinary times," Magic Springs said in a news release.

Michael Wampler, the park's director of sales and marketing, told The Sentinel-Record on Thursday both the theme and water parks will open on June 1, but they will have a reduced attendance.

Wampler said attendance numbers for the park are confidential, but they will allow 30% of capacity for the theme park and 50% for the water park.

To ensure these percentages are kept, Wampler said they will be doing "hourly ticket counts." He said they will be counting both how many people enter and how many exit during each hour to make sure the number of visitors does not go over the allotted percentages.

He said at this time they do not anticipate the number of visitors to reach those percentages, "but we will certainly be closely monitoring the attendance." He noted attendance is usually larger on weekends and they are "encouraging people to visit during the week."

"The safety of our guests has always been our number one priority," Jack Bateman, the park's general manager, said in the release. "As Arkansas' only Theme and Water Park, Magic Springs has been a place for families to create unforgettable experiences, but now we must go above and beyond the state and federal protocols in light of the new health concerns. We want to do our part to keep everyone safe while they enjoy their summer at the Thrill Capital of Arkansas."

Among the safety measures that will be in place, Wampler said, is that visitors will be kept socially distant from each other in the queues and, as a result, "every ride will look packed."

"It may appear it has a line out the door," he said, noting there will "definitely" be a long line at the park's entrance.

The park will be limiting the number of guest allowed on the rides and employees will wipe down the rides after each use, he said, noting, "Wait times may be longer than usual" as a result.

The entire theme and water park will be open except for Splash Island in the water park, and Sky Shark in the theme park, which will both remain closed.

Splash Island will remain closed, he said, because guests are "not able to socially distance" while on it. Until a way to keep guests socially distance, if possible, is found, that attraction will remain closed.

Sky Shark, Wampler said, will remain closed because they "can't sanitize the harness." It is a slingshot attraction that is not included with admission.

The park will be following the state guidelines to ensure families have space to create memories while maintaining social distancing, the release said. Guests are highly encouraged to bring their own masks, which will be required for all indoor dining locations. Hand sanitizer will be available at locations throughout the park. To limit person-to-person contact even further, the park encourages guests to purchase discount admission tickets, in-park meal vouchers and parking online in advance of their visit to minimize cash transactions.

"Masks are highly encouraged," Wampler said, and they will be required inside the four restaurants in the park. Almost all the employees who are in contact with visitors will also be wearing masks with the exception of the lifeguards, he said.

Some staff members have been moved to the cleaning team and will be using the "strongest sanitation supplies" that they have, he said, noting "the entire staff will be "educated on sanitation" before the parks reopen.

Park visitors will still find something for everyone this summer at Magic Springs from the thrilling rides, family friendly pools and breathtaking waterslides, to special events such as Meet-a-Mermaid Mondays, Wacky Wednesdays and the ever-popular Dive-In Movie Fridays, the release said.

Wampler said they are "super excited" to be able to reopen the parks to visitors, noting they are happy to offer a "place for families to make memories."

Discounts on season passes and one-day admission may be found on the park website's ticket page, while days and hours of operation are available on the operating calendar.

Magic Springs is asking anyone who has been sick, experiencing COVID-like symptoms or been around somebody who is sick, to stay home and follow proper quarantine guidelines put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local officials, the release said.

For more information on the park's sanitation and social distancing protocols, visit http://www.MagicSprings.com/COVID-19.php.

Local on 05/22/2020

Print Headline: Magic Springs to reopen June 1 with reduced attendance

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