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Water World will not open in 2020; 800 onboarded employees out of a job

The Hyland Hills water park, now in its 41st season, said it won't open this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. — Water World on Tuesday said it will not be open for the 2020 summer season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first time in the water park's 40 years in business that it will not open.

"We are deeply disappointed to have to make this decision,” said park spokesperson Joann Cortéz. “Water World is a summer institution in Colorado, and for many individuals and families, it’s just not summer without Water World.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there is "no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas.”

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But Water World park officials said Water World's size and typical seasonal visitor numbers mean it would not be permitted to open safely within the park's operating season. Water World is 70 acres, and can accommodate up to 500,000 visitors each year in a typical 90-day to 93-day season.

Water World said it sought guidance from industry experts, local authorities and health officials to create a park opening guide that addressed everything from social distancing to sanitization, but "the unknown still exists in terms of official restrictions. Specifically, when and if, large numbers of people might be permitted to gather this summer."

“Our hearts are saddened for the fun water park memories that won’t be made in 2020," Cortéz said. "And, more so, for the 1,000 young workers who had looked forward to working at Water World this summer."

Cortéz said around 800 of those employees had already been onboarded. That includes Mollie Cochran, the park's food service supervisor. This would have been her sixth year working at Water World.

"It was just very hard to understand," Cochran said. "That’s kind of weird that we’re not opening because I’m so used it being open on this weekend."

Water World may be one of the largest seasonal employers in the Denver metro area, but it is just a small representation of the summer jobs kids won't get this year.

"It's totally hard, but for safety of guests and everyone who is going to come in, it's the best thing to do, I think," Cochran said.

"Water World is committed to be a part of the solution to Colorado’s COVID-19 crisis and we will look forward to seeing everyone back at the park in 2021," said a statement from the park.

Water World is located 10 miles north of Denver, just minutes from downtown.

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