HUNTINGTON — Camden Park will get a late start this summer, but when the gates do open, patrons will ultimately be the beneficiaries of an extended offseason.
Jack Boylin, owner and operator of the park, said preparing the park for opening day can be a long process even without a pandemic, but the delayed opening for West Virginia’s only amusement park did have a silver lining. He said it allowed them to accomplish even more to help the attraction’s overall safety and visual appeal.
“There’s always some refurbishing work done on rides. Like the big project this offseason was replacing some of the woodworking on the Big Dipper. There’s general upkeep of other rides. On top of that, we’ve been able to do more painting than usual,” he said.
The park’s concession stand began offering curbside service in late April and the park recently opened its mini-golf course — which received new greens and updated landscaping — but plans to open all rides, restaurants and some shops to the general public beginning July 1.
The miniature golf course is open 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Outdoor dining is available at the Mound Builder Pavilion.
Masks are not required inside the park, but are encouraged. Boylin said seating on some rides will be modified to enforce social distancing, and queue lines will also be marked accordingly. Sanitizing stations will be available at multiple locations on the grounds.
Boylin added that people are likely to attend the park in family groups or with individuals they have already been spending time around, which he believes will make the logistics of seating them on rides “a little easier” when they open.
“For example, with the Paratrooper or Log Flume, there won’t be any change in how they’re operated because you can seat them in family groups,” he said. “In the case of the Big Dipper, train or other rides with a line of cars, we’ll be seating them in every other row.”
Indoor seating at the park restaurant will be limited in capacity and additional outdoor seating could be made available. Boylin said they are likely to combine the toy and candy shops to provide patrons with enough space to spread out safely. Park officials are also looking at mapping out a flow for pedestrian traffic.
“I think it’ll be easier for people to maintain distance if they are moving in the same direction and not all over,” he said.
During a normal season, the park would employ approximately 125 people working in two shifts. Because of the abbreviated season and other contributing factors, Boylin said the staff would be trimmed to about 75.
Before opening day, all employees will go through orientation to introduce them to new safety procedures and get them used to wearing masks, which are required for staff, around the park. Daily health screenings are being conducted for employees who enter the park.