ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Six Flags opens 54th season with
heightened safety protocols
All guests over the age of 2 were required to wear masks at Six Flags Over Georgia for the 2021 season when it began in March.
Six Flags Over Georgia opened its 54th season on March 6 after
a strange and unexpected year that began with the coronavirus’
rapid spread in the United States.
As businesses shut down to limit the virus’ spread, so too did
Six Flags. But it reopened in June 2020 after Gov. Brian Kemp
eased state restrictions. Six Flags theme parks now follow a safety
guide to reduce transmission of the coronavirus at their facilities.
Guests visiting the parks are required to make a reservation in
advance online. The parks will be operating with reduced capacity
— Dedra Brown-Harvey, a Six Flags Over Georgia spokesperson,
said the exact number of guests allowed won’t be disclosed
because it changes day to day.
The safety protocols implemented for Six Flags’ 54th season are
similar to ones used in 2020.
“We’ve continued our dialogue, obviously, with local and state
officials to ensure that what we’re doing in the parks meets or exceeds
the guidelines, as those guidelines evolve,” said Sandra Daniels, a Six
Flags spokesperson. “For the most part, it is the same plan because,
frankly, it’s a plan that worked really well.”
Perennial visitors to Six Flags Over Georgia may also notice a
change to one of the park’s roller coasters. The 42-year-old Riddler
Mindbender, formerly known as Mind Bender, will “feature a sleek
new look and new roller coaster trains,” according to a news release.
Brown-Harvey said the roller coaster has been repainted, fitted
with new trains and given a new control system.
Overall, a rebound in tourism is imminent for Cobb County, Holly
Quinlan, CEO of Cobb Travel and Tourism, and Dale Kaetzel, the
park’s president, said at a South Cobb Area Council luncheon in the
spring. The council is a local arm of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
After a year of nearly nonexistent revenue for the hospitality
industry, Quinlan said the county’s hotel/motel tax collections are
“starting to trend in the right direction.”
“There is so much good news right now,” Quinlan said. “Right before
this meeting I was at the Cobb Hotel Council … and just the optimism
in that room — occupancy is going up, people are starting to travel.”
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During the height of the pandemic, most travelers were
booking their trips less than a week in advance, Quinlan
added. Now, people are making plans months in advance. She
also highlighted Mableton’s Town Square, the new Discovery
Park at the Riverline and the Chattahoochee River itself as
other attractions for the South Cobb area.
Six Flags, meanwhile, is gearing up for what Kaetzel
anticipates will be a very strong summer season.
The vast majority of Six Flags employees are seasonal, and
the company hired 2,500 employees in Georgia this season,
according to Brown-Harvey.
The park will remain open throughout August, whereas in
past years it began to wind down operations when students
returned to school after summer recess.
“One of the things with the pandemic is, we were able to
put in a lot of things that are going to be permanent additions
to our operation,” Kaetzel said at the South Cobb Area
Council luncheon, including touchless metal detectors and an
abundance of hand sanitizing stations.
While health and safety concerns remain Six Flags’ top
priority, Kaetzel said, hiring sufficient staff is not far behind.
To that end, the park has bumped its pay rates in an effort to
attract seasonal employees. Jobs at Six Flags will now pay up
to $15 per hour, with jobs at White Water paying up to $13
In this regard, Six Flags Over Georgia is not alone.
Businesses around the country have been forced to raise pay to
attract workers as the coronavirus recedes in the United States
and consumer spending returns to pre-pandemic levels.
After the South Cobb Area Council luncheon this spring,
Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Loud said he
suspects some of those workforce shortages could be attributed
to federal aid programs designed to keep Americans at home
and financially solvent during the pandemic.
“The other thing is, to be fair to a lot of those workers, when
those jobs went away they had to go find a new livelihood. So
some of them aren’t coming back.”