**UPDATE: Tweetsie Railroad is now closed again due to NCDHHS guidelines. Click here for details.**
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - All aboard! Tweetsie Railroad is back open to guests after closing its gates for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One of North Carolina’s oldest parks welcomed back guests on Friday.
Tickets went on sale to the general public on Thursday.
This weekend, the park is having a Golden Rail Season Pass Holders Priority Weekend as season pass holders will have the first chance to reserve a train ride.
“We are opening with train ride only, just as we did in July 1957,” said Cathy Robbins, director of marketing for Tweetsie Railroad. “The park will look a little different this year, but that is to keep both our patrons and our staff safe and healthy. We hope our family-friendly tradition in the mountains will bring families some much needed joy in a safe and clean environment.”
Officials with Tweetsie told WBTV News that one main reason they were able to reopen was by keeping all the amusement park rides shut down.
Only main street with shopping and dining and the train rides are part of the Tweetsie experience for now, they said.
They added that Tweetsie has never been shut down for such an extended period during a summer since the attraction opened 63 years ago.
Tweetsie Railroad officials said the park is following North Carolina state and federal CDC regulations.
All guests, who are 11-years-old and older are required by state law to wear face coverings and will be asked to keep six feet apart from other guests.
The park has instituted additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures throughout the facilities.
With safety as the top priority, Tweetsie Railroad has made many changes to the park, including:
· Limited hours of operation Friday - Sunday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
· Guests will have access to Main Street stores and The Wild West Train Ride on one of the park’s historic steam engines.
· The capacity of the open-air train cars will be limited to 50% of normal capacity, and groups will leave a seat between to ensure social distancing.
· With reduced capacity, Guests will reserve train ride tickets for specific times, and Golden Rail Season Pass Holders will have priority in reserving daily admission and train ride tickets for the first weekend (July 17-19). Reservations can be made by calling the Ticket Office 877-893-3874.
· Any remaining tickets will be made available for purchase by phone or at the Ticket Office for non-season pass holders beginning Thursday, July 16.
· Daily ticket prices will be reduced to $10 per adult and $7 per child (age 3-12). Children 2 and under will continue to be admitted free. No discounts will be offered with this reduced admission.
· Tickets will be available Monday, July 20 for the following weekend. For future weekends tickets will be sold a maximum of seven days in advance to be able to adapt to changing conditions.