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These are featured stories of how the Upper Delta and Mid-South is combating the Coronavirus as well as resources to help those impacted by the pandemic.

Discovery Park of America Reopens After COVID-19 Shutdown

Discovery Park of America

As different sections of the economy opens back up, tourist attractions have been working with health officials on how to open safely to the public.  The goal is to keep workers and guests safe while slowly opening back up.  But, how do you do that exactly?  For the answer to that question, I looked at what Discovery Park of America is doing.  Discovery Park of America is a 100-thousand square foot museum and a 50-acre heritage park set in Union City, Tennessee.  It was founded by the late Robert Kirkland, whom also founded the Kirkland’s company and Kirkland’s stores.  The park opened in 2013 and on an average day, it would have about 25-hundred people going through the park. The park has been shut down due to COVID-19, but is expected to open slowly to members at the end of the month.  I talked to Scott Williams.  Williams is the President and CEO of Discovery Park of America.  Williams says while the park was shut down to the public, there was a lot of work on how to eventually open the park back up safely:

“We have had a lot of Zoom meetings to get the plan going.  We have been also talking with other museums and attended over 100 different webinars on how to safely open up a museum or an attraction,” said Williams.

Williams tells what employees were working on while they were at home during the shutdown.

Credit Discovery Park of America
Discovery Park staff receiving two days of training on new safety protocols.

“We wanted to make sure that all employees were able to work.  Some people did different jobs that they were not used to.  Some became researchers, others wrote blogs, beefing up media lists, and other areas.  We just recently had training where everyone learned about our new safety protocols when we open.”

Williams says the outside heritage park will be open May 30th and May 31st for members and then will open June first for the park. The museum will open later in June. He says during the initial opening, some changes may need to be made to their opening plans.

“We will be flexible,” said Williams.  “We have closed one side of our parking lot to allow for plenty of space for everyone to stay in their family group and to stay safe as they enter into and go throughout the park. 

He says workers at the park will be watching how many people go into certain areas of the park and making sure social distancing guidelines are followed.

“We will be educating guests when they arrive, there will be signage around the park, we will give masks away while supplies are available, and there will be reminders of how far apart you need to be.”

Williams says the hours for the park will be limited when it does open back up.  More information can be found here.  Scott Williams is the President and CEO of Discovery Park of America on KASU.  He says he is excited to get the park open again. 

This is the complete interview as KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves interviews Scott Williams, President and CEO of Discovery Park of America.

Johnathan Reaves is the News Director for KASU Public Radio. As part of an Air Force Family, he moved to Arkansas from Minot, North Dakota in 1986. He was first bitten by the radio bug after he graduated from Gosnell High School in 1992. While working on his undergraduate degree, he worked at KOSE, a small 1,000 watt AM commercial station in Osceola, Arkansas. Upon graduation from Arkansas State University in 1996 with a degree in Radio-Television Broadcast News, he decided that he wanted to stay in radio news. He moved to Stuttgart, Arkansas and worked for East Arkansas Broadcasters as news director and was there for 16 years.