Rebranded Arizona Boardwalk reopens The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Rebranded Arizona Boardwalk reopens

Rebranded Arizona Boardwalk reopens

By Kristine Cannon
Tribune Staff Writer

Arizona Boardwalk – the home of OdySea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland – has reopened to the public just in time for Memorial Weekend.

The recently renamed entertainment destination implemented new guidelines and safety protocols.

New signage also has been erected around the premier 35-acre, multilevel entertainment complex located near Scottsdale off the 101 and East Vía de Ventura.

“We are excited to reopen to the public after nearly eight weeks without visitors,” said Greg Charbeneau, vice president and general manager of OdySea Aquarium.

“We have worked thoughtfully and within the state’s recommended guidelines on our reopening plans as the health and wellbeing of our guests, team and animals is our top priority.”

The entertainment destination opened in 2013 with a butterfly exhibit and grew in 2016 with the addition of an aquarium and a swim-with-the-dolphins attraction called Dolphinaris. But after four dolphin deaths over several years, Dolphinaris closed in 2019.

It rebranded to Arizona Boardwalk in early February – roughly a month before it and thousands of other businesses were closed because of the pandemic.

At the time the rebranding was announced, spokesman Ran Knishinsky told news media the hope was that the name change would reduce confusion for consumers.

“What I want people to know is that we’re more than just the aquarium,” he said. “It’s eight attractions. One location. Lots of shopping. Lots of restaurants.”

Much has changed as a result of efforts to control the coronavirus spread.

Arizona Boardwalk’s anchor attraction, OdySea Aquarium, now operates with timed-ticketed entry and limits the number of visitors at one time. It also has implemented new standard operating procedures to safeguard guests, animals and team members.

Arizona Boardwalk also boasts hand-sanitizing stations throughout the aquarium.

“Our priority is to keep everyone who visits Arizona Boardwalk, as well as our employees, healthy and safe while providing a fun and engaging environment,” said Knishinsky.

Team members at OdySea Aquarium have their temperature checked at the start of their shifts and they are required to wear masks in public spaces.

Guests are also strongly encouraged by Arizona Boardwalk to wear masks.

The Odysea Treasures gift shop will have face masks for sale as well.

“We recognize how stressful this situation has been for our community and the world at large, and we look forward to once again providing a safe, family-friendly experience to our guests,” Knishinsky said.

In addition to wearing masks, guests are also strongly encouraged to visit in groups of 10 or less, reschedule their visit if they’re not feeling well and purchase discounted tickets online in advance as limited capacity will be strictly enforced to maintain social distancing.

OdySea Aquarium supports physical distancing via markers at key exhibits and offers ticket sales online and at kiosks.

Entry times will be sold in 30-minute slots and guests will be required to enter during their specific time.

Not all attractions and exhibits will be available to the public, however.

Arizona Boardwalk has enhanced their cleaning methods, focusing on high-touch areas such as restrooms, counters, escalator railings, elevators and exhibit-glass.

But the Kids Cove play area, animal touch exhibits and 3D movie will remain temporarily closed.

Arizona Boardwalk also suspended animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours; VR Xtreme and Polar Play Ice Bar did not reopen in the first phase.

“We are taking a phased, controlled approach to reopening yet will continue delivering a wonderful, memorable guest experience while ensuring we operate safely and responsibly,” Charbeneau said.

Attractions, restaurants and shops that opened on May 21 have capacity limits.

Those businesses include Arizona Territory Trading Post, Four Peaks Mining Co., and Vitality Oxygen Bar & Aqua Massage.

Reopened restaurants include Coffee Cove, Frozen Penguin Ice Cream, Johnny Rockets, Nékter Juice Bar, Pangaea Dino Grill, Pizza Time, The Reef Snack Bar, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and Sugar Drop Candy Shop.

As for the other opened attractions and exhibits, they include “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” “Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs,” the “Laser + Mirror Maze,” “Surprise Your Eyes” and Butterfly Wonderland in addition to the OdySea Aquarium.

“We can’t wait to see visitors and familiar faces come through our doors again,” said Dee Mangulins, executive director of Butterfly Wonderland.

“Outside of lovingly taking care of our butterflies and other animals, we’ve used the last two months wisely to spruce-up, paint, deep clean and implement our new safeguards and guidelines to be in the best possible position to safely welcome back our beloved visitors,” she said, adding:

“We made the most of our quarantined time, and we are now anxious to help families make memories again at Butterfly Wonderland.”

At the time of the rebranding, it was also announced that a Ripley’s Believe or Not Museum and a Hyatt hotel would be coming to the site – as well as more courtyard features like a rock-climbing wall, zipline and play structures.


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