Western Canada's largest permanent outdoor amusement park is set to kick off its 38th season in the coming weeks and guests will encounter a slightly different park with smaller crowds compared to years past.  

Calaway Park's 2020 campaign was delayed as a result of the province's COVID-19 pandemic-related health order but, following five submissions to Alberta Health, the park has been permitted to reopen as part of the already underway second phase of Alberta's economic relaunch.

"We've been given ordinance to go ahead at this time but with significant restrictions and we really want our guests to know that," explained Bob Williams, Calaway Park's general manager.

"Certain rides, high-velocity rides, will not open during this Stage 2 time period and other rides will require guests to wear masks when they're riding the ride."

According to Williams, the park will reopen to season pass holders on Friday, July 17 and to the general public the following day. All guests will be required to reserve an entry time ahead of their arrival and tickets must be purchased online.

Guests will be encouraged to wear masks at the park and masks will be mandatory for all staff members.

The decision to not open high-velocity rides was made to prevent the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. "These rides are rides where somebody might be screaming or yelling out of joy and the droplets get spread."

Details of the ride restrictions, including closures and mask requirements, will be available on the Calaway Park website as of  July 13th.

According to Williams, the safety of Calaway Park guests and staff is paramount. An engineering company was hired to determine how many guests could be accommodated while ensuring physical distancing was observed. Calaway Park then further reduced that figure to determine capacity.

"I think when they get in the park because we are limited to the 33 per cent capacity, the park will be quite slow."

Food kiosks and retail stores will reopen with physical distancing measures and limits on the number of customers permitted at a time. The park's lone sit-down restaurant will remain closed.

The two-second safety check — the thumbs up symbol from riders — will no longer be the most obvious safety measure at Calaway. Every ride will have be wiped between use, queues and hand rails will be frequently scrubbed, and the entire park will be cleaned each morning with electrostatic sprayers. Staff members will also be screened with temperature checks before setting foot in the park.

Some of the park's 600 seasonal workers returned to the job on Thursday while the remainder, who were hired in March, are set to begin training next week. The park has continued to employee approximately 40 full-time workers through the elongated off-season.

Calaway Park will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with plans to extend its hours to 7 p.m. once the province enters Stage 3.