First California amusement park sets re-opening date

After a seven-month coronavirus closure, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Northern California will re-open a limited selection of rides on Nov. 7, 2020, as Santa Cruz County moves into California’s orange/moderate tier 3 risk level.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Photos courtesy of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Under Governor Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, California’s re-opening guidelines, small theme parks (capacity of fewer than 15,000 visitors), can re-open in the orange/moderate tier 3. Large California theme parks must remain closed until the county where they’re located reaches the yellow/minimal tier 4.

Under state guidelines, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk—California’s oldest amusement park—can re-open open at a capacity of 500 in-county visitors with admission by pre-purchased reservation only. The park has announced there will be two reservation-only 300-visitor sessions on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, the first session from noon to 2 p.m. (gates open at 11 a.m.) and the second from 3 to 5 p.m. (gates open at 2:30 p.m.) Guests must reserve sessions separately to attend both sessions in one day.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Giant Dipper

Eight to ten of the seaside park’s rides (about a quarter of its 37 rides) will re-open, including the Giant Dipper wooden coaster, the Undertow steel coaster, the Fireball pendulum swing ride, the Shockwave coaster, the Sky Glider ski lift-style aerial gondolas, and the Sea Swings wave swing, along with the Kiddie Cruzers and Jet Copters kid’s rides. The re-opening of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will also include the debut of the new Lighthouse Liftoff ride, where riders pull themselves to the top of a spinning tower. The park’s 1911 carousel will remain closed, as will other indoor rides.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Fireball

Admission is $25 per person per session (free to Beach Boardwalk season pass holders with reservations). Guests will receive a 25-point My Boardwalk Card for rides and games (each ride will cost 4 to 7 points). All visitors must undergo temperature screening and verify their Santa Cruz County residency. Face masks are required.

At this point, rides will be open on weekends only; however, other areas on the boardwalk are open daily, including shops and restaurants with limited capacity. Miniature golf, bowling, and outdoor arcade games will be open to all visitors regardless of county residency.

UPDATE – Nov. 11, 2020:

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will re-close after being open only one weekend because Santa Cruz County moved back to the red/substantial tier 2 risk level under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

“We anticipated the likelihood Santa Cruz County might move back and forth within the tiers and have prepared to adjust our operations accordingly,” Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes said in a statement. “The health and safety of our guests and employees is of the utmost importance during these challenging times and this will remain our priority in the weeks and months ahead.”

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