Discovery Park of America Reopens After COVID-19 Shutdown

May 19, 2020

The Discovery Center at Discovery Park of America pictured with The Chapel on one of Discovery Park’s lakes.
Credit 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.

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

“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.