[Updated] One SoCal theme park lifts California residency requirements; will others follow?by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Disneyland officials confirmed the following: "Until further clarification from the state, only California residents may visit our parks, in line with current state guidelines. Please visit our policy here."
Officials from Sea World have yet to respond to our inquiry, but have changed the announcement on their website.
A representative from the California Department of Public Health confirmed the new guidelines to an industry magazine.
BREAKING: A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health has confirmed to InPark that "fully vaccinated people from out of state are now permitted to participate in activities restricted to in-state visitors." Includes concerts, spectator sports, and theme parks... pic.twitter.com/F1VjGtAE7F— InPark Magazine (@InParkMagazine) April 21, 2021
When California theme parks got the green light to reopen as early as April 1, the state handed down a set of guidelines that regulated everything from how many people could visit a theme park to how long they could remain inside an indoor attraction.
The guidance for amusement parks and theme parks also required theme parks to restrict admission to California residents only, persuant to a travel advisory from the California Department of Public Health.
One local theme park, Sea World in San Diego, had already reopened under guidelines for zoos, and decided to keep operating under those more lenient guidelines through the spring break period because zoos were permitted to sell tickets to out-of-state visitors.
Now the park has announced it's open with rides and roller coasters, and is also welcoming out-of-state visitors. A notice posted on the website Tuesday night read:
"Per state COVID-19 restrictions, attendance is limited to California in-state visitors, and now out-of-state visitors will be required to show proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their park visit (required for guests 3 & up)."
What gives? What changed? We're not entirely sure. We learned about the Sea World situation from our travel partners at Get Away Today , and we were as perplexed at they were.
We quickly checked to see if there had been an update to the guidance issued by the state, and found no change there. Then we looked at the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and discovered that it had been updated on Monday, April 19. The language there still reads that theme parks can open to in-state visitors only, but refers back to the CDPH travel advisory.
A quick scan of the Southern California theme park websites showed nobody else had altered their residency requirement, so we sent a note to Sea World's media relations department asking them to share what prompted them to make the change. They never responded, but on Wednesday, the announcement was changed to remove the option to provide a negative COVID-19 test. The new announcement reads,
SeaWorld San Diego is now operating as a theme park. Per state COVID-19 restrictions, attendance is limited to California in-state visitors, and now out-of-state visitors will be required to show proof of a fully completed COVID-19 vaccine (you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot, or two weeks after the one-dose vaccine).
Stymied, we hopped on Twitter to see if anyone else was seeing what we were seeing, and found that Leslie Harvey from Trips with Tykes had been following the same road, and found what she believes Sea World is relying on for their policy change,
There is also an addendum on page 8 that says: "Fully vaccinated persons from out of state may visit or attend activities or events that are restricted to in-state visitors." 4/6 pic.twitter.com/SENSYPZI6W— Leslie Harvey (@TripsWithTykes) April 20, 2021
Sea World may be making a giant leap in their justification for their policy change, or may just have found a loophole in California's inconsistent policies.
We're waiting to hear from Sea World, Disney, and any of the other Southern California theme park operators about their future plans, [see update at top], but if you're an out of state visitor just waiting for your opportunity to return to the Disneyland Resort, that time may be coming sooner than expected.