The familiar sound of screams and thrills filled the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Thursday morning.
RELATED: California theme parks can soon reopen, but please don't scream on the rides, industry group asks
After the longest closure in the 114-year history of the boardwalk, the iconic vacation destination was open once again to California residents.
"It's very nostalgic," Lake Tahoe visitor Rachel Frank said. "We love to come to Santa Cruz, so it brings back a lot of happy memories. It is a little different with the mask, but it's okay."
"We came in July and it was pretty sad," Cameron Park visitor Jenna Shoemaker said. "My daughter and I walked here at night and it was totally dead. It was strange. We're happy to be back."
The midways of the boardwalk were empty no more.
Reyes told ABC7 News eight to 12 rides will open daily, through the 11, followed by a weekend-only basis for the rest of April.
Park capacity will be reduced to 25% of normal. Once capacity is reached, guests with ride reservations will be given priority entry.
"At times, we may have to close the boardwalk temporarily while the numbers thin out a little bit," Reyes added.
Reyes explained that as an open-gate park, the Boardwalk is without traditional turnstiles.
"So, we don't share our capacity numbers the way some parks do," Reyes continued. "We have provided that information to the state in our reopening discussions."
RELATED: It's allowed, but is it safe? We asked 3 doctors if they'd go along with orange tier reopenings
The rides open include fan favorites like the Pirate Ship, Rock and Roll and roaring down the tracks once again was the Giant Dipper.
But before you ride, there are some things to know.
Social distancing is encouraged and designated by markers throughout the park.
Online tickets and reservations for rides are highly recommended, but not required.
A limited number of tickets can be purchased the day of.
And, if you aren't immediately eating or drinking, a mask is mandatory, even on the rides.
In addition, rides open at the park will temporarily close during the course of the day for cleaning and sanitizing.
"We're complying under all the guidelines for the orange tier and as Santa Cruz moves to yellow, we'll follow those rules as well," Reyes said. "But, we are very committed to making sure that everyone can still have a great time, but ensuring that everyone stays healthy and safe when they visit or work at the boardwalk."
We visited on Wednesday and met many strolling along in the warm California sun, seemingly caught off-guard by the lasting impacts of COVID-19.
"It's kind of sad because, you know, nothing's open," Oregon resident Virgle Osborne told ABC7 News. "And there's a few things here and there open, but it's a completely different experience than what I'm used to seeing."
Osborne previously lived in the area and frequented the Boardwalk.
Carson Cummings was with his family, celebrating his 12th birthday on the Boardwalk. Besides not being able to ride the Giant Dipper, he pointed to other major changes to the park as a result of the pandemic.
"Just the rides all being closed and wearing masks and stuff," he said.
RELATED: When will California reach herd immunity? Maybe June, maybe never
Of course, masks remain mandatory. Reyes explained attractions will occasionally close for cleaning and sanitizing. He added, "Spreading people out, getting that social distancing is really important to keeping people safe."
Reyes described the Boardwalk's reopening as "very gradual and measured."
Reyes is encouraging people to make reservations ahead of time.
"If they have an existing season pass, they can make a reservation online. They can make a reservation when they purchase a ride wristband as well. That'll guarantee them access to rides on the day they want to visit," Reyes elaborated. "So that's a really important way to ensure that people can have access to the rides, have a great time, and still allow us to comply with our 25% capacity limitations."
Under the orange tier, state guidelines limit visitation to California residents only.
INTERACTIVE: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county
App users: For a better experience, click here to view the story in a new window
Nathan Khalili and his friends traveled from San Jose. On Wednesday, he told ABC7 News, "It is nice to be able to step out of the house, but it's a little bit sad because, you know, we can't interact people the same way."
The days of crowded lines and uncovered screams on the ever-popular Giant Dipper are a thing of the past. However, Reyes wants to make it clear, screaming is not being prohibited.
"I can tell you definitively, there is no prohibition on screaming on an amusement park ride," he shared. "So long as a person is properly masked and well-spaced, and having a safe time."
Osborne added, "I think people are just ready to get out. So, they're gonna have a good time. It's not gonna matter."
Reyes said the Boardwalk has been shut down since March of last year. "We voluntarily shut down before amusement parks were required to do so. This certainly has been the longest extended closure of boardwalk rides and attractions in our 114 year history," he shared.
He said the Boardwalk stayed closed the October following the deadly 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake for repairs.
For more details about the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's reopening guidelines, click here.
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map shows which counties can, can't reopen under reopening tiers
- Cheat sheet: What you can and can't do after being fully vaccinated
- How to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in every Bay Area county
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- Interactive map shows what's closed and what's reopening in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Third stimulus check calculator: See how much you could get
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic