Two popular summer destinations at Cultus Lake are re-opening, but things will look and feel different at the Cultus Lake Waterpark and Cultus Lake Adventure Park.
Owner Chris Steunenberg will open the gates to the latter on July 1, in a manner of speaking. One of the COVID-19 related changes happening at the theme park is restriction of public access.
“We’re going to a closed-gate facility,” Steunenberg explained. “Where people used to be able to walk through and enjoy the atmosphere, the atmosphere will now be reserved for those who pay to come in.”
Both parks will be opened to a maximum of 30 per cent of normal capacity and neither will allow stay-all-day scenarios. Cultus Lake Adventure Park will be asking patrons to arrive for a four-hour morning session at 11 a.m., with rides running from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
A four-hour evening session will run from 5 to 9 p.m., with patrons asked to arrive at 4:30 p.m.
A similar arrangement will be in place at Cultus Lake Waterpark, which is slated to open July 8.
Patrons will be asked to arrive at 9 a.m. for a four-hour morning session that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
A four-hour evening session will run from 3 to 7 p.m., with patrons asked to arrive at 2:30 p.m.
There won’t be any drop-offs and there won’t be any in-and-outs, with people leaving the park, going to the car and coming back.
Groups will be limited to a maximum of six people, and a contact-tracing card will be signed as they enter either park.
Between sessions, employees will sanitize surfaces, and employees who work in close proximity to the public or each other will be wearing protective face shields/masks or observing safe distancing.
“Because we’re only operating at a quarter of our normal capacity, the upside is that people who do get in are going to have a great time,” Steunenberg said. “There won’t be nearly as many people in the same line or waiting to share the same equipment.
“The downside of that is we are going to have turn away some people at the gate, unfortunately.”
Social distancing signage and ground markers will be posted all over both parks.
“We’ve planned all of the slides with social distancing in mind, trying to space everyone two to three metres apart,” Steunenberg said. “But just as in a mall or supermarket, the onus is going to be on the general public to distance properly. It’s for your own sake and your own safety, and we encourage that. But we won’t be able to police every single movement of people in our parks. “
Distancing at Cultus Lake Adventure Park is tricky business, with many of the rides normally seating patrons shoulder to shoulder.
“You can sit beside your kid, but you won’t be sitting next to another group,” Steunenberg said. “There will be one or two empty seats between you and the next person. On the roller coaster there will be a car left empty between groups. It will be more time consuming to coordinate that, but there will be less people as well, so we think the trade off will be fair.”
As plans have been revealed at cultus.com and on social media, Steunenberg said he’s received tons of feedback, good and bad.
Some question the logic of opening any venue that will attract crowds during a pandemic, while others applaud the move.
Steunenberg conceded there is financial pressure to try and limit the damage caused by COVID-19, which has already cost 30 per cent of the season that normally runs from late May to early September.
“It has been frustrating, but we hope to pull through this tough time and eventually look back at it as a struggle in the life of our business,” he said. “We’ve got to survive this, and we’ll see how the public responds.
“Three weeks ago we thought we might not be able to open at all. This may not be a profitable year for us, but we’re going to give it a try, create work for students and give something back to our loyal customers.”
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