Seven of Belmont Park’s most popular attractions reopened on Thursday as amusement rides were able to reopen under the red tier.
For the first time in nearly a year, people can now ride the Iconic Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster at Belmont Park. It turns 96 this year.
"The kids just enjoy the rides. We love the rollercoaster. He finally got up to where he is old enough to go on it," said Marie McCully, season pass holders.
McCully and her son have spent a long year couped up. This was one day they weren't about to miss.
"We are very glad we came they start school on Monday for the first time so we're pretty excited to get out," McCully said.
The park restaurants and some outside attractions remained open over the pandemic but there is a visible difference in expressions of Thursday's visitors.
"You can tell on people's faces that they have been waiting for this just like we have for about a year," Daniela Bower, Public Relations Manager at Belmont Park told NBC 7.
Bower says ride operators have extra face coverings for those who didn't bring their own and hand sanitizing stations are at each attraction. Bower says combining reopened rides with spring break can make staying within health codes challenging.
"There are a lot of rules, but we also are in the fun business. We want to make sure we are balancing that with the guest experience," Bower said.
The Big Dipper is also a big help to surrounding businesses like nearby Chicken Charlie's. General Manager, Michelle Bussey, says the day's receipts are double that of last week.
"It almost made me cry. Just seeing the roller coaster going again, it's been almost a year," she said.
Before COVID-19 Bower says Belmont Park attracted two million people a year, but it won't reach that attendance bar this year.
On April 1, amusement parks in counties in the red tier were able to have guests up to 15% capacity, even at their indoor facilities. Although indoor dining should stay closed.