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Tampa Mayor Jane Castor approves Busch Gardens' plan to reopen

According to the city, Busch Gardens would reopen on June 10 for an employee appreciation day and on June 11 for the public.
Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — Update, May 29: According to the city of Tampa, Busch Gardens is planning to reopen June 10 for an employee appreciation day and on June 11 for the public.

The park, along with SeaWorld's Orlando parks and Disney World, is still awaiting final approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Previous story:

Hillsborough County and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor have both now endorsed Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island's plan to reopen soon.

The theme parks were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, SeaWorld Entertainment, which owns Busch Gardens got the green-light from Orange County to reopen its Orlando parks. The plan now awaits final approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Now, 10 Tampa Bay has learned the Tampa area parks have gotten similar green-lights from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Hillsborough County and are also awaiting the governor's final approval. 

The Orlando parks are targeting a June 10 reopening date for employee appreciation day and then a June 11 public reopening. In documents obtained by 10 Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens did not indicate an exact reopening date in Tampa. But, it is likely to fall around the same time as the SeaWorld date.

"We are following the CDC guidelines and the advice of outside medical consultants to prepare to reopen Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island safely," Busch Gardens told 10 Tampa Bay in a statement. "We have developed a range of precautions and safety measures all of which are designed to provide our employees and guests a safe, healthy, and clean environment. We will be submitting our plan to the Governor and hope to make official announcements regarding Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island soon."

RELATED: Disney World proposes reopening Magic, Animal Kingdom July 11 with mandatory masks for all

RELATED: SeaWorld proposes reopening parks June 10 with mandatory masks, temperature screenings

When guests return to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay & Adventure Island, they will notice many changes. People will be required to wear face masks, and some rides are even being altered to have fewer seats.

Guests and staff members will be required to pass temperature checks before entering the parks.

Summary of changes:

  • Employees will be required to wear face coverings.
  • Guests age two and up will be required to wear face coverings. They're encouraged to bring their own.
  • Social distancing will be promoted throughout the parks with markings on the ground and signage
  • Contactless payments will be encouraged via Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Plexi-glass will be installed in high-traffic and close-contact areas
  • Cleaning and sanitization will be increased significantly, especially in high-contact areas
  • The number of hand sanitizing stations will be increased
  • CDC guidance will be followed on temperature checks
  • All guests and employees must undergo and pass temperature screenings before entering the parks
  • There will be single-direction flow of guests walking in some areas
  • There will be no more single-rider lines
  • Queue lines for all rides will promote physical distancing
  • Some rides will get modified seating to create distancing
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrances and exits to rides
  • Rides will be sanitized more frequently
  • Open play areas will be closed unless they meet distancing protocols
  • New protocols will be implemented on water rides
  • Some components of parades and meet-and-greets will be limited or removed
  • Character interactions will be modified to allow for physical distancing, as will photo opportunities
  • Spacing will be increased for touchless turnstiles at entrances
  • Seating layouts in restaurants will be changed to create more distancing
  • Tables and chairs will be sanitized more frequently
  • In restaurants, condiment stations will be closed, utensils will be pre-packaged and more single-use products will be used
  • Paper menus will replace traditional menus
  • Buffet-style services will be altered or closed
  • More grab-and-go and pre-packaged food items will be added
  • Lines and shops will have markings to encourage physical distancing
  • Shops will have signs pointing guests to defined entry and exit points
  • All open animal viewing spots will have markings to promote physical distancing
  • Some tours and interactions will be limited to one-party at a time
  • Only tours that allow for social distancing can operate
  • Some animal interactions will be modified
  • Employees with flu-like symptoms cannot come to work
  • Employees are required to follow CDC guidelines for self-isolation and symptom-free periods before retunring to work
  • Employees will get coronavirus-specific training