Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Update - July 2nd, 2020
The Marine World Experience
It’s been a long 4 months but some of our favorite Northern California theme parks are open in new and creative ways! SFDK opened for its first day of operations as “The Marine World Experience”. Since zoos are currently permitted to be open but theme parks aren’t (pre 7/1 Gavin Newsom announcement), SFDK is throwing it back to the Marine World days and opening up the park but not the rides. But all of the animal exhibits and shows are available! So lets take a quick walk through the park and see what’s changed during our long time away!
I personally have been to a couple of parks since they've started to reopen: Universal Orlando and Silverwood. The former was very organized with masks and social distancing strictly enforced while the latter had hand sanitizer throughout the park but not a whole lot else - I was probably one of only 10 or so guests to wear a mask. I'm very pleased to say that SFDK falls into the former group. Masks and social distancing was very well enforced. The park similarly had hand sanitizer all throughout the park, maybe even more prevalently than Universal did. Overall, I'd give huge kudos to Six Flags for taking health seriously as they try to reopen. Let's take a look at some closer details:
For the foreseeable future, entrance to the park will require a reservation. Luckily the site is pretty straightforward and easy to use
As you'd expect, if you're showing symptoms, don't come to the park
The park also features a cutting edge new security process that also includes a temperature check...
As far as security goes, you don't have to take anything out of your pockets or put your bag through a metal detector
Here's a little closer look at the process. This wooden tunnel is set up and as you walk through a camera takes your temperature and flags any questionable items you may have. I was pulled aside for my camera and after I opened my bag and showed the guard the camera he let me through. Overall it was a very non-invasive process and one that all parks should permanently adopt, even when the pandemic passes
Let's start with the basics, sanitizer is outside of buildings and high touch places
As well as interspersed throughout the outdoor sections of the park
Signs are up urging groups to sit apart in dining areas
All indoor dining areas are cleared out, like here in JBs
At the main food court area there are some extra hand washing stations
Just like in Universal, there are a handful of mask-free areas interspersed throughout the park. They provide a nice socially-distant place to relax for a few minutes
In addition, some extra high touch areas, like this set of windows for the tigers, are closed off
And finally, this audio clip plays every couple of minutes throughout the park. Props to Six Flags for caring so much about the safety of its guests!
Let's get into a little bit more about what the Marine World Experience entails! Let's start with the obvious: all of SFDK's rides are currently closed with no ETA to reopen. But luckily SFDK is so much more than just rides. All of the animal exhibits were open (with a notable exception covered later) as well as all of the shows. In addition, there were several caregiver talks at various exhibits and plenty of roaming employees interacting with guests and answering questions about the animals. Since it wasn't a boiling hot day, the animals were very active which made it a great day to visit! Overall, I was very impressed by just how much SFDK is able to offer even with the rides closed! Let's take a look at some of the animals and Marine World Experience features!
To start with, caregivers were giving talks throughout the park showing off some of the animals that SFDK cares for
And there are plenty of opportunities for guests to get close to animals, like this cute otter on a leash!
Keepers were at most of the exhibits helping guests see the animals
The nursery windows were blocked off presumably due to the high touch environment they present
But there were still plenty of animals in the nursery pens
I've gotten lucky the past couple of times I've visited and the giraffes have been eating each time. The are funny looking animals with how long and gangly their limbs are
The only major exhibit that was closed was the aquarium, which isn't terribly shocking since it's a tight, indoor space
But don't worry, there are plenty of swimming animals to see!
The butterflies were open, which makes me think that larger indoor spaces are okay, but tighter ones aren't? Or maybe the aquarium just wasn't ready for guests yet
Let's end the animal section of our update with Billy alligator here. I don't think I've ever seen him move but hey, sunbathing on a nice day is how I'd want to spend the day if I was him too!
Let's check in with the Sidewinder Safari construction site. Since we had our last update, SS has been removed from the Six Flags website. This led some to theorize that the park either delayed or cancelled the ride. My personal money is on delayed but we'll see how it shakes out.
There is still signage for SS in the park which is a good sign
Hopefully still in 2020?
The area actually had some fences pulled back from where they were in March, exposing this planter
The fences got a new wrap and the signage showing SS as coming in Spring 2020 was removed
Some tables were also added around the site
Keep your fingers crossed that SS eventually makes its way to us!
I haven't ever seen the not operating rides section this empty - too bad this time is because nothing is running
We were greeted by some live music. Cool touch!
Medusa's plaza was unsurprisingly closed off since it contains no animals
As was DC Universe
In better news, Joker's tables were back!!
Harley Quinn was completely put together. Maybe this is the time that the park needed to put the ride's downtime issues behind it?
Tava's Jungleland was also closed, except for the entrance to the theater in the area
Many smaller shops and snack stands were closed throughout the park
Macho Nachos was closed but to be fair, I don't think I've ever seen it open
Monsoon Falls was full of water and had boats on the course
And mechanics were on Boomerang's platform. Maybe just maintenance but maybe preparing for a reopening in a month or two?
Gorilla had social distancing markers in its queue
All of the games were open!
As was guest services
I'll leave you with this shot of Joker and reminder that we'll be riding on it before we know it!