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2020 Theme Park Guide: Updated for Fall

Posted October 12, 2020

If this 2020 Theme Park Guide looks familiar, that’s because it is but… we’ve done a major update throughout for all things fall. Read on for the latest safety—and autumn—information for 17 theme parks that are near our resorts.

We’ve been so happy to welcome you back to our resorts for some family vacation time over the past few months, while also keeping your safety as our top priority. And speaking of safety, we know you probably still have a lot of questions about theme parks (and what theme park COVID-19 precautions will look like) nowadays.

Masks, temperature checks, special ticket reservations … it can all be a little confusing! So, we asked one of our Checking In blog writers (and resident Walt Disney World® Resorts expert) Jessica Salina to compile everything we know so far about theme park re-openings near our Holiday Inn Club Vacations® Resorts.

Jessica collage Epcot and Magic Kingdom
Jessica jumping for joy at her first visits back to Epcot and Magic Kingdom when they re-opened

One common theme across all theme parks? Extra cleaning and social distancing. From there, info seems to vary by park destination. While we hope this theme park guide is a helpful first step in your vacation planning (and decision-making) process, only you can decide if the time is right to start riding rides and enjoying park snacks again (churros, anyone?).

And if you do decide now is the right time for you, you’re in for an autumn treat. We’ve updated this guide to include which theme parks are sprinkling in their best fall décor, seasonal foods and fun events throughout their parks (especially Walt Disney World® Theme Parks and more).

Please keep in mind all this information is subject to change as COVID-19 continues to evolve, so be sure to double-check directly with the theme park you’re considering before heading out for your day of thrills, magic and fun!

From your Orange Lake Resort and Orlando Breeze Resort home bases:



Mickey Mouse at Halloween time

  • Walt Disney World® Theme Parks
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 10 miles from Orange Lake Resort
      • 13.5 miles from Orlando Breeze Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom re-open on July 11.
      • Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT re-open on July 15.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Guests ages 2 and up must wear face coverings while in the park except when in designated relaxation areas or while eating and drinking in a stationary spot.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above will not be admitted and they, along with their entire party, will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance.
    • Reservations:
      • Guests ages 3 and up will need both a valid theme park ticket and a (new) park entry reservation for the same date.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • Even though Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was canceled, Disney is still bringing the fall season to life with its pumpkin-themed Mickey Wreaths, Halloween-inspired merchandise, characters in costumes, special food and beverage offerings throughout each park, and more.
      • Adults can also wear Halloween costumes in the park now through October 31. (Psssst: this is not usually a “thing”.)
      • Plus, since it kicked off on July 15th, fan-favorite A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival seems to be adding more and more food vendors each time I visit.
  • Learn more on Walt Disney World’s website
  • Learn more about Orange Lake Resort
  • Learn more about Orlando Breeze Resort



Exterior view of SeaWorld Orlando
Photo courtesy of SeaWorld® Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

  • SeaWorld® Orlando
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 15.3 miles from Orange Lake Resort
      • 18.6 miles from Orlando Breeze Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • SeaWorld and Aquatica® Orlando are currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Guests ages 2 and up must wear face coverings while in the park except while eating and drinking or in designated relaxation areas.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature checks will be required upon arrival. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Reservations:
      • Guests must make a reservation prior to visiting, and you can reserve up to six people at a time. Guests must bring both their reservation and valid park ticket for entry. You can book a reservation here.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • SeaWorld’s Spooktacular is back with new safety procedures! This event is offered on Saturdays and Sundays through November 1 and is included with park admission.
      • There’ll be a trick-or-treat trail, breakfast with Count von Count, cookie decorating with Cookie Monster, a Halloween maze and mermaid meet-and-greets.
      • For trick-or-treating, guests must purchase a new reusable bag from the park to prevent contact between individuals.
  • Learn more on SeaWorld’s website
  • Learn more about Orange Lake Resort
  • Learn more about Orlando Breeze Resort



Family of four standing in front of the Universal Orlando globe
Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort TM

  • Universal Orlando ResortTM
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 19.8 miles from Orange Lake Resort
      • 23 miles from Orlando Breeze Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Universal Orlando Resort is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Everyone is required to wear a face covering during their visit.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature checks will be required upon arrival. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Before You Ride:
      • Guests will be required to use hand sanitizer at certain locations, including before boarding a ride vehicle.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • While Halloween Horror Nights was canceled this year, you can still enjoy some of the event’s offerings. There are two daytime haunted houses and the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store is open for Horror Nights fans.
      • Plus, you can dress up in costume and trick-or-treat at Islands of Adventure or take part in the scarecrow scavenger hunt at Universal Studios.
      • There are also tons of limited-time fall flavors you can enjoy eating and drinking. I’m personally amazed by the Cherry Gummy Beating Hearts at the Tribute Store (yes, they actually beat like a heart), and the Jack the Clown Doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut looks as scary as it is sweet.
      • One quick note: The haunted houses can be really scary for kids. Even though Universal will admit kids under 18, they don’t recommend the Halloween Horror Nights event for children under 13. (And I whole-heartedly agree with this reco.)
  • Learn more on Universal Orlando’s website
  • Learn more about Orange Lake Resort
  • Learn more about Orlando Breeze Resort



Small child riding mechanical horse at LEGOLAND Florida
Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND® Florida Resort

  • LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 34.4 miles from Orange Lake Resort
      • 29.2 miles from Orlando Breeze Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • LEGOLAND Florida Resort is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Masks are required for guests ages 8+.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature checks will be required upon arrival. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Social Distancing When Parking:
      • When parking, guests are being asked to leave a space available on both sides of your car.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • Good news! Brick or Treat is happening this year on weekends through October 31.
      • When parking, guests are being asked to leave a space available on both sides of your car.
  • Learn more on LEGOLAND’s website
  • Learn more about Orange Lake Resort
  • Learn more about Orlando Breeze Resort



Roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens®

  • Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 65.7 miles from Orange Lake Resort
      • 62.6 miles from Orlando Breeze Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Guests ages 2 and up must wear face coverings while in the park except while eating and drinking or in designated relaxation areas.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature checks will be required upon arrival. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Other Safety Notes:
      • Certain animal interactions will be modified and only tours allowing for physical distancing will operate.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • Howl-O-Scream is operating this year with physically distanced, open-air scare zones and the fan-favorite Fiends Show (now outside on the Festival Field Stage).
      • This separately ticketed event is available every Friday through Sunday until November 1. Advanced online reservations are required, as are face coverings. (And don’t worry, even the scare actors be wearing masks, too!).
      • Another note: Howl-O-Scream can be frightening for the kiddos. Just like Universal, Busch Gardens will admit childen under 18, but they do not recommend this event for kiddos under 13. Beware the scare!
  • Learn more on Busch Gardens’ website
  • Learn more about Orange Lake Resort
  • Learn more about Orlando Breeze Resort



From your Cape Canaveral Beach Resort home base:


Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden
Photo courtesy of Kennedy Space CenterTM

  • Kennedy Space CenterTM Visitor Complex
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 16.7 miles from Cape Canaveral Beach Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Kennedy Space Center is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Masks are required while at the visitor complex. Children ages 2 and under are not required to wear a face covering.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature checks will be required upon arrival. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Ticketing:
      • In addition to admission to the visitor complex, you’ll receive a complimentary admission ticket valid for use beginning January 1, 2021, through December 25, 2021, which will be provided to you upon arrival to the visitor complex.
  • Learn more on Kennedy Space Center’s website
  • Learn more about Cape Canaveral Beach Resort



From your Holiday Hills Resort and Ozark Mountain Resort home bases:


Silver Dollar City
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City®

  • Silver Dollar City® amusement park
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 11.7 miles from Holiday Hills Resort
      • 11.8 miles from Ozark Mountain Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Silver Dollar City, White Water & Showboat Branson Belle are currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Face masks or face coverings are required for all visitors ages 3 and up.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature screenings will be taken prior to entry.
      • Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Guests with a fever exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted entry.
    • Health Screenings:
      • All guests will be screened with a four-question health assessment prior to entry.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • Now through October 31, you can experience Silver Dollar City’s Harvest Festival. The festival features Craft Days, varying artisans every week, cowboy meet-and-greets and seasonal treats.
      • The Harvest Festival also includes Pumpkins in the City, which is a glowing event with illuminated pumpkins at night near rides and the Woodland Hike.
  • Learn more on Silver Dollar City’s website
  • Learn more about Holiday Hills Resort
  • Learn more about Ozark Mountain Resort



From your Smoky Mountain Resort home base:


Dollywood
Photo courtesy of Dollywood®

  • Dollywood®
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 10.1 miles from Smoky Mountain Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins are currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Face masks or face coverings are required for all visitors ages 3 and up.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature screenings will be taken prior to entry.
      • Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Guests with a fever exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted entry.
    • Health Screenings:
      • All guests will be screened with a four-question health assessment prior to entry.
    • Health Screenings:
      • Yes! You can still enjoy the Harvest Festival at Dollywood this year, now through October 31st! For 2020, they’ve added colossal pumpkins (we’re talking 1,500 pounds!), live musicians and seasonal treats you can enjoy beneath the fall foliage of the Smoky Mountains. (And all just about 10 miles away from our beautiful Smoky Mountains Resort.)
      • At night, see the Great Pumpkin LumiNights at Wildwood Grove (narrated by Dolly Parton herself!).
  • Learn more on Dollywood’s website
  • Learn more about Smoky Mountain Resort



From your Williamsburg Resort home base:


Water slide at Busch Gardens
Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens®

  • Busch Gardens® Williamsburg
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 12.8 miles from Williamsburg Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Busch Gardens will remain closed based on Virginia state guidelines and patron limitations of 1,000 per entertainment venue. A re-opening date has not been confirmed yet.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • When re-opened, guests ages 2 and up must wear face coverings while in the park except while eating and drinking or in designated relaxation areas.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • When re-opened, temperature checks will be required upon arrival. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Other Safety Notes:
      • When re-opened, certain animal interactions will be modified and only tours allowing for physical distancing will operate.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • While the general park remains closed this fall season, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is offering seasonal, limited-capacity tickets for their Halloween Harvest in-park event now through November 1.
      • Enjoy tons of roller coasters alongside kid-friendly Halloween attractions, contactless trick-or-treating, Halloween scares, and seasonal food and beverage offerings.
  • Learn more on Busch Gardens’ website
  • Learn more about Williamsburg Resort



From your Galveston Beach Resort and Galveston Seaside Resort home bases:


Schlitterbahn Galveston
Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn®

  • Schlitterbahn® Galveston
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 4.8 miles from Galveston Beach Resort
      • 13.5 miles from Galveston Seaside Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Schlitterbahn is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Face coverings are required in designated areas for guests ages 2 and up. For your safety, they ask that face coverings are removed when experiencing water attractions or pools.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Health screenings and temperature checks will be required for all guests.
    • Reservations:
      • Before coming to the park, all guests must schedule their visit in advance through an online reservation system.
  • Learn more on Schlitterbahn’s website
  • Learn more about Galveston Beach Resort
  • Learn more about Galveston Seaside Resort



From your Hill Country Resort home base:


Woman and young girl coming down a waterslide at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels
Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn®

  • Schlitterbahn® New Braunfels
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 19.5 miles from Hill Country Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Schlitterbahn is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Face coverings are required in designated areas for guests ages 2 and up. For your safety, they ask that face coverings are removed when experiencing water attractions or pools.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Health screenings and temperature checks will be required for all guests.
    • Reservations:
      • Before coming to the park, all guests must schedule their visit in advance through an online reservation system.
  • Learn more on Schlitterbahn’s website
  • Learn more about Hill Country Resort



Batman The Ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Photo courtesy of Six Flags®

  • Six Flags® Fiesta Texas
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 46.2 miles from Hill Country Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • Six Flags Fiesta Texas is currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • All guests over the age of 2 are required to wear masks. Exceptions apply in pools and waterpark attractions, and Mask Break Zones are available.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature screenings will be taken prior to entry.
    • Reservations:
  • Learn more on Six Flags’ website
  • Learn more about Hill Country Resort



SeaWorld San Antonio
Photo courtesy of SeaWorld® Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

  • SeaWorld® San Antonio
    • Miles from Resort:
      • 59.5 miles from Hill Country Resort
    • Opening Dates:
      • SeaWorld and Aquatica® San Antonio are currently open.
    • Mask Requirements:
      • Guests ages 2 and up must wear face coverings while in the park except while eating and drinking or in designated relaxation areas.
    • Temperature Screenings:
      • Temperature checks will be required upon arrival.
      • Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be admitted.
    • Reservations:
      • Guests must make a reservation prior to visiting, and you may reserve up to six people at a time. Guests must bring both their reservation and park ticket for entry. Book a reservation here.
    • Special Fall 2020 Events:
      • The SeaWorld Spooktacular is happening on weekends through November 1 and is included with your park admission.
      • Enjoy trick-or-treating and a Pumpkin Patch Picnic (you really can’t get more fall than picking a pumpkin, painting it and then enjoying lunch in the patch!).
      • Plus, there will also be Sesame Street photo ops (Elmo and Count von Count are even dressed up for Halloween!).
  • Learn more on SeaWorld’s website
  • Learn more about Hill Country Resort



Whether you’re ready to roll right back into theme park action or you’re wanting to wait for a little while longer, we hope this guide was a helpful start on what to expect as you plan your next vacation. And, that you’re staying happy, safe and healthy from wherever you are!

Remember: For the most up-to-date information, be sure to check with the theme park you’re visiting directly since the situation is ever-changing.

Safe travels, and let the fun begin!


All information is subject to change. This article is a curated guide and is neither sponsored nor considered an official endorsement. Please be sure to check information directly with any/all tours, guides or companies for the most up-to-date and direct details.

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Jessica Salina

Jessica is the Social Media Specialist at Holiday Inn Club Vacations. She’s originally from Rhode Island, but loved vacationing in Florida so much that she now lives here in the Sunshine State! She loves running, coffee and exploring her new home state. She knows everything there is to know about Walt Disney World and enjoys finding international travel inspiration at Epcot with her husband, Anthony.