A Look Back On 2020 and Theme Parks

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Night Disneyland

This year was unlike any other when it came to theme parks. This year saw things that only last year would have seemed impossible, but happened amid a global pandemic.

So as this year that changed the world forever comes to a close, we are looking back on the highs, and the lows, of theme parks around the world this past year.

Every Disney Parks Closing

Cinderella Castle Magic Kingdom Disney World

No look back on this year would be complete without the single biggest event of the year. Theme parks around the world had to close down due to the threat presented by the uncontrolled Coronavirus pandemic. After parks gradually closed as the disease spread, the gates would eventually be closed on every Disney Park around the world.

Only a year ago this seemed impossible, but so much that seemed impossible happened this year in the world.

Theme Parks Adapt and Reopen

Phobia Roller Coaster Lake Compounce

As countries got the pandemic under control theme parks began to reopen, with changes of course, to make the parks safer. This brought mask mandates, hand sanitizing stations, social distancing on rides, capacity limits on parks, and more. This allowed us to experience the parks in an altered form as the pandemic continued.

Walt Disney World Where Dreams Come True Entrance

Once the world got a better handle on the pandemic many parks were able to reopen, putting people back to work and bringing happiness to people in a world with much to be anxious about in a relatively safe way.

Parks that weren't allowed to fully reopen also were innovative in finding ways to partially reopen, from Knotts Berry Farm to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Massive Layoffs

The Dark Knight Floorless Roller Coaster Six Flags New England

Major theme park companies from Disney to Six Flags to Universal had to do massive layoffs throughout the year amid the closures and massive decreases in attendance. This left thousands without jobs in a desperate time. But the theme park community gathered together, raising money for the Cast Member Pantry, and supporting small businesses owned by former cast members.

New Rides

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Concept Art Disney's Hollywood Studios

Normally this would have been the majority of our end of year theme park review, but with so many rides canceled, there are really only a few new rides worth noting.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway opened just before the pandemic, bringing the first ride based on Mickey Mouse to the world.

Amid the pandemic, Tokyo Disneyland opened two new rides based on Beauty and the Beast and Big Hero Six in a massive new expansion that had been delayed by the pandemic.

Meanwhile Universal opened a new Jason Bourne themed stunt show amid the pandemic, going through soft openings and an official opening.

New roller coasters would also make their debut, from Candymonium to West Coast Racers.

This year isn't what we thought it would be, but it was still a year that brought us rides sure to be classics in years to come.

Looking Forward

Mad Tea Party Fantasyland Disneyland

This year isn't what any of us, or any theme park wanted it to be. Hopefully, we can look forward to a better 2021 and better years to come, and that the pest parts of the changes that resulted from this pandemic will remain in the years to come.