Kings Dominion will open up this year after all — for a new limited capacity special holiday-themed event in December that requires reservations.
The theme park in northern Hanover County, one of Virginia’s biggest tourist attractions, will reopen on select dates between Dec. 5 and Dec. 27 for the Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience. Exact dates have not been set.
The event will allow guests to buy samples of 25 different holiday sweets — such as southern fried pecan pie, a mint ice cream sandwich, eggnog and cookies — and other foods including chicken gumbo and battered shrimp in festive themed areas. The park also will have live shows and gift stores will be open.
Guests will be able to ride 16 popular attractions including the Grand Carousel, bumper cars, the Delirium swing and the Dominator rollercoaster.
“This has been a challenging year for everyone, which is why we are ready and excited to welcome guests back to the park for some holiday cheer,” said Tony Johnson, Kings Dominion’s vice president and general manager.
The park, which didn’t open in the spring as it usually does because of the pandemic, announced in early August that it would remain closed for the rest of 2020 because of the challenges related to COVID-19 restrictions. Kings Dominion said limiting the park to having 1,000 people at one time was not economically sustainable.
But that changed with holding the Taste of the Season event.
“Kings Dominion has a comprehensive safety plan in place that has proven to be effective in all of our sister parks that were allowed to safely operate earlier this year. We can’t wait for families to return to the park and make treasured holiday memories safely,” said Johnson, who announced last month he is retiring in January.
A park spokeswoman declined to say what the limited capacity for guests will be each day. But she said Kings Dominion will follow state and local guidelines.
Masks also will be required by employees and patrons — even while outdoors.
Kings Dominion will be open for limited hours from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the Taste of the Season event.
Exact dates haven’t been decided yet but will be available next week when the reservation system opens up for ticket purchases.
Reservations will be required for all guests to attend. Season passholders can reserve tickets beginning Nov. 16 and single-day tickets will be available beginning Nov. 18.
The price for the event hasn’t been determined yet.
Food and beverages tickets will be sold as part of a bundled price with admission and parking or will be sold separately in advance online or at the park. Buying a tasting card at the park will cost $30 plus tax for six tastings, $45 plus tax for nine tastings or $6.99 plus tax for individual tastes.
The Taste of the Season event will be similar to WinterFest, which Kings Dominion has held the past two years in November and December. The new event will focus more on the food and holiday treats.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg also will have a new special Busch Gardens Christmas Celebration event that will include an increase in reservation availability for more guests to attend. The park will offer day and evening reservation windows on select dates from Nov. 13 to Jan. 3.
The Williamsburg theme park held similar limited capacity special events in August and September that were popular among guests.
“This year has been challenging for so many and we’re thrilled to bring some holiday joy to even more families now that we’re able to offer additional reservations for this spectacular holiday event,” said Kevin Lembke, president of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA.
The event will allow guests to stroll through eight of the park’s European villages that will be adorned with holiday decorations and lights. Guests can ride 15 roller coasters and other attractions and attend new live entertainment.
The park also will offer holiday-inspired specialty drinks and food dishes.
The per-person cost to the Busch Gardens Christmas Celebration, which includes admission, plus one entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage, is $59.99. Admission just to get into the park gates is $39.99.