It’s been a summer of silence at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. Seven months after their normal opening date, the theme park has been granted approval to open to guests.
Great America will reopen on November 27th with their third season of Holiday in the Park. They are calling this year’s festivities “Holiday in the Park Lights” – and it will be a bit different this season.
“Due to Illinois safety guidelines, rides won’t be operating at Holiday in the Park Lights,” Caitlin Kepple, Six Flags Great America’s Communications Manager, says. “It’s strictly a holiday lights experience.”
What can you expect as part of that experience? The park says they are going all out with decorations and lights across their nearly 300 acres. The maintenance team is hard at work setting up two and a half million holiday lights on the trees and buildings. The traditional holiday food items and hot chocolate will be available, as well.
We also spoke with David Major, Six Flags Great America’s entertainment manager, about adjusting the event to bring some of Holiday in the Park’s indoor elements outside.
“We are going to bring our characters and our stage shows outside,” Major told us. “It will be socially distanced for our performers and for our guests. Everything is coming outside, onto the midways and onto the streets.”
Great America says they are following reopening guidelines put forward by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s office. In addition to having no rides operating, the park will operate at reduced capacity levels. Guests will have to make a reservation on the Six Flags website, a system that will be familiar to anybody who visited the Hurricane Harbor waterpark when it was able to reopen this summer.
Guests will have their temperatures checked with a contactless thermal imaging system, social distancing will be strictly enforced throughout the property, and masks will be required for everybody over two years old. Dedicated cleaning teams will be put in place to sanitize touch points throughout the grounds. Mobile food ordering will also be available – guests can order items on the Six Flags app and have them ready for pickup, allowing for touchless transactions. The park will be hiring around 800 seasonal employees to make the event happen.
Reservations are scheduled to open today, October 15, on Six Flags Great America’s website. Members and Season Pass holders will receive priority over single-day ticket buyers. Those single day tickets will be sold for $19.99 this season with free parking included.
The staff at Great America says they are excited to open the gates and offer another way to get outside and enjoy the holiday season. Their new opening day is just 43 days away. Major tells me they are definitely under some pressure to get everything ready in time, but they’re up to the challenge.
“We rallied the team together to make this happen. We want to bring it to our guests and celebrate the holiday season at Six Flags Great America.”
See and read more of Marcus Leshock’s “Coastin’ the Country” theme park and travel reporting at wgntv.com/coastin. Don’t forget to follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more breaking updates on everything happening across the industry.