Kings Dominion pumping brakes on reopening while Busch Gardens shifts gears

Local News

DOSWELL, Va. (WRIC) — As Busch Gardens Williamsburg plans to reopen in early August, Kings Dominion says it will remain closed for business – for now.

Kings Dominion in Doswell still believes it’s not ‘economically viable’ to open the amusement park during the pandemic with guest restrictions in place. Thus gates will remain closed, ticket booths unoccupied and roller coasters unmoved as 70 miles down the road, Busch Gardens pushes full steam ahead.

RELATED: Busch Gardens Williamsburg expected to begin reopening in early August, parent company says

Gary Legette sides with Kings Dominion, however, telling 8News that even though the park’s closure has hurt sales at the nearby 7-Eleven he works at, public health is paramount.

“I think they should wait until they have some kind of cure first,” he said. “The other states opened up too early.”

Under Phase 3, Kings Dominion could have reopened but didn’t.

A theme park representative said, “the restriction of limiting our park to just 1,000 guests does not reflect a large volume of space available at Kings Dominion to accommodate recommended social distancing protocols.”

RELATED: Kings Dominion restricted to 1,000 guests under Virginia’s Phase 3

Under Governor Ralph Northam’s Phase 3 strategy to reopen Virginia, theme parks cried foul —saying they were boxed-in with smaller, entertainment venue restrictions. Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion both said a 1,000-person cap on guests wasn’t economically sustainable or viable.

But Wednesday, the parent company for Busch Gardens – SeaWorld & Entertainment did an abrupt about-face on their stance.

It seems that Kings Dominion won’t pivot on their decision, however.

The amusement park initially targeted an April reopening which then shifted to May, yet, the park remains temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“What kind of benefit can you get when you have thousands of people together to spread the virus?” asked Donnell Morris, who works as a groundskeeper at a motel nearby.

One woman, who did not want to be identified by 8News, says she was in favor of the park reopening. She told 8News reporter Ben Dennis that the amusement park should reopen like all other businesses, adding that anyone that chooses to buy a ticket and attend the pleasure ground should do so at their own risk.

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