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UPDATE: Busch Gardens Williamsburg plans to reopen next week with limited capacity special event; Kings Dominion remains closed

UPDATE: Busch Gardens Williamsburg plans to reopen next week with limited capacity special event; Kings Dominion remains closed

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'It is not financially feasible': Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens won't reopen under Phase 3 restrictions as Busch Gardens president Kevin Lembke explains.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg plans to reopen next week.

The theme park said Thursday it will reopen Aug. 6 with a new limited capacity special event that requires advance reservations.

“While the general park remains closed, this new specially ticketed outdoor event will highlight an array of hand-picked park experiences,” Busch Gardens Williamsburg website said.

The Coasters and Craft Brews event will allow guests to stroll though select villages at Busch Gardens Williamsburg such as England, Ireland, Scotland, France and New France.

Guests will be able to ride only certain attractions including InvadR, Griffon, Loch Ness Monster and Finnegan’s Flyer. And they will be able to eat barbecue at Trapper’s Smokehouse along with tasting a selection of more than 20 local and craft cold brews available at Grogan’s Pub.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be open for limited hours — Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. — through Aug. 16. The park will re-evaluate to see if it will extend the Coasters and Craft Brews event beyond Aug. 16, a spokeswoman said.

Reservations must be purchased in advance. Park admission tickets are $44.99 per person. Food and beverages are sold separately. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., the park’s parent company, announced Wednesday that the park would reopen in early August but it didn’t provide details. “The company expects its Busch Gardens theme park in Virginia to commence a phased reopening in early August 2020,” the company said in a news release that provided preliminary second quarter results.

A park spokeswoman said the company didn’t have information at this time on when Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA will resume operations.

Kings Dominion remains closed, and there are no updates at this time for when the theme park in Hanover County will reopen, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The Kings Dominion spokeswoman reiterated that with current capacity restrictions, “it is not economically viable for us to operate our park.”

Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg — two of Virginia’s biggest tourist attractions and economic boosters — had said in late June that they wouldn’t reopen on July 1 when Virginia moved into the third phase of the state’s plan to gradually reopen businesses amid the coronavirus.

The theme parks said then that limiting them to having 1,000 people at one time is not economically sustainable.

As of July 1, entertainment venues, including amusement parks, can open at 50% capacity, or a maximum of 1,000 people.

“The 1,000-patron limit does keep us out of business. It is not an economically sustainable model for us” to reopen, Kevin Lembke, the park president of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, said late last month.

But a park spokeswoman said Busch Gardens Williamsburg got creative and decided to hold the limited capacity Coasters and Craft Brews event where the entire park is not open but only portion of it.

Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA have been closed since March.

SeaWorld Entertainment has reopened eight of its parks with capacity limitations including SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld San Antonio.

The company also said Wednesday that it continues to monitor guidance from federal, state and local authorities to determine when it can reopen its parks in California.

Despite the capacity limitations, attendance numbers at the SeaWorld Entertainment parks have improved since reopening, the company said. “Total park attendance at reopened parks has increased 14% on a same-park basis from the week ended June 28 (the first full week these parks were open) to the most recent week ended July 26,” the company said.

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