Ocean Breeze ‘blindsided’ to learn it has to reopen without water slides

Virginia Beach

Courtesy – Ocean Breeze Waterpark

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Despite Virginia’s 1,000 capacity limit for amusement parks for Phase 3 reopening, Ocean Breeze Waterpark still planned to reopen, with its slides this week, but that changed late Tuesday night.

The waterpark says it was “blindsided” when the Virginia Department of Health contacted them Tuesday to say they could not open their water slides after all.

There is no mention of this in the Governor’s Safer At Home Phase III Entertainment and Public Amusement, which water parks fall under. To be clear – this was a decision made at the state level. We have the complete support of health department officials in Virginia Beach. We have worked tirelessly all day to get this verdict immediately reversed – with no success.

Ocean Breeze Waterpark

Ocean Breeze went on to say that while the water slides will remain closed, they still plan to reopen this week with the following fun features: the wave pool, Adventure River, activity pool and Jungle Falls river. A couple of water features in the children’s area will also be open.

Waterpark officials said they are planning to officially reopen to the public on Friday, July 3 with two special members-only days on Wednesday and Thursday.

The last day to purchase a 2020 season pass with an extension through June 30, 2021 is on Wednesday, July 1, so you’ll need to act fast if interested.

More on phase 3: Restaurants can go up to full capacity, events up to 250 people
Related: Phase 3 to permit recreational swimming, usher in more people at gatherings

There are other perks for passholders, including exclusive hours and events. See the full reopening plan at this link.

Virginia Department of Health officials told WAVY News 10 that the phase 3 guidelines that specifically pertain to water slides say “Hot tubs, spas, saunas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features must remain closed.”

VDH spokesman Norm Grefe wrote in an email that water slides are considered high-risk areas because they involved areas of congregation and waiting lines.

“The aquatic guidelines are intended to promote physical distancing and discourage any congregation of people in close contact with each other. Additionally, the common touch surfaces on water slides (ladder rungs, railings) are difficult to clean and disinfect, and there is a high likelihood that swimmers may touch their face after ascending ladders on slides,” Grefe wrote in an email.

In James City County however, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA in York County have opted to remain closed due to Phase 3’s limited capacity.

Park President Kevin Lembke went in front of the James City County Board of Supervisors on June 23 to explain the park’s decision, adding the patron limit is “not an economically sustainable situation for us” and express frustration the state didn’t create individual guidelines for them.

At this rate, Lembke said Water Country USA is at risk of not opening at all this year, which he said would result in millions of dollars lost in York County taxes.

Ocean Breeze Waterpark officials expressed their concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know you will have lots of questions and we hope for the most part, that you are excited that we have made every effort to open under very unusual circumstances because we are so ready to see you!”

For more information regarding Ocean Breeze Waterpark’s opening, click here.

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