‘Inch closer’ to normality as theme parks reopen

 

THE first of the Gold Coast's major theme parks will throw open its gates to what the tourism industry hopes will be thousands this morning, prompting city leaders to label the move as "an inch closer" to normality.

Village Roadshow's Sea World is reopening with a maximum capacity of around 6000 people, more than three months after the city's theme parks were forced to closed due to COVID-19 safety restrictions in late March.

Chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa said it was the first time "in a long time" he had seen park staff in high spirits.

"The best part is just walking around and seeing all the familiar faces back at the park," he said.

Trainers Chee Thao and Zoe Taylor, with dolphins Gemma and Moki, are preparing to welcome back guests. Photograph: Jason O'Brien
Trainers Chee Thao and Zoe Taylor, with dolphins Gemma and Moki, are preparing to welcome back guests. Photograph: Jason O'Brien


"I have not seen so many smiling faces in a long time. Morale is high.

"(The closure) has certainly created a sense of appreciation for what we had and took for granted, and the team there is very passionate.

"I think the passion, the care and the effort that will go into (working there) will be absolutely supercharged."

The park will reopen with comprehensive COVID safety plan measures in place, including a new app allowing people to avoid queues by booking their place on rides.

Rides will be cleaned before and after each use, all public areas will be regularly sanitised and markers will be in place to ensure social distancing.

The number of shows per day has also been increased because parks have to comply with limited seating capacity.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate is celebrating the reopening, labelling it a step closer to pre-COVID times for the city.

"Every day we inch closer to returning to the Gold Coast lifestyle we all love and this is a milestone definitely worth celebrating," he said.

"I hope they enjoy a bumper school holidays and that all the other theme parks are able to open their doors soon also."

Village Roadshow COO Bikash Randhawa. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Village Roadshow COO Bikash Randhawa. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista said the reopening was a "positive sign" for the Coast's tourism sector.

"There has been an incredible amount of work done by the theme parks to ensure they comply with COVID safe guidelines," she said.

"And I know that Sea World and the Gold Coast are very eager to welcome back families and visitors.

"Last week, Destination Gold Coast launched a new $1.5 million marketing campaign to entice Queenslanders to come back and play, and what better way to welcome them than the progressive reopening of our theme parks?"

Paradise Country and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary will also reopen today, with Australian Outback Spectacular to follow on July 3.

Movie World and Wet'n'Wild will reopen on July 15.

Originally published as 'Inch closer' to normality as Coast theme parks reopen


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