SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The grounds around the historic buildings at the Alamo reopened to the public on August 20.
On Thursday, for the first time since March when COVID-19 swept into Texas, tourists will be allowed inside the iconic church; where Texas defenders sacrificed their lives for independence.
"We are inviting people to remember the Alamo, we are ready to welcome you back,” said Alamo Marketing Director Sheila Mayfield.
Admission is still free. What's new is how to get in. Electronic tickets, obtained online, are being used to manage access. "We actually looked at what other historic monuments and museums were doing, and we saw a lot of them have moved to time ticketing,” said Mayfield.
The tickets are stamped for admission for a specific time of day.
"You can make a reservation in advance, know the day and the time of your spot, not have to wait, and you can either print out the ticket or show it, if you got it on your phone, and we ask guests to come 10 minutes prior to their scheduled time,” said Mayfield.
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The system is designed to prevent someone from trying to load up an entire block of tickets. "There is a maximum you can reserve, I think it’s 10. That you can reserve at one time,” said Mayfield.
Those who get in will be part of a tour limited to 30 minutes and will be in a group no larger than 50 people, big enough to break up a case of cabin fever. Cedar Park resident Angie Hopcus and her family are among those looking for relief.
"We've been in this house since March, so I’m ready to get out, I did go to a restaurant and sit on a patio finally,” said Hopcus.
The Alamo reopening plan, for Hopcus, may be a sign of something more than just rebooting tourism. "I think it’s time for people to get back to living their lives, and not be in fear, yeah, I'm excited for things to start opening and have a little more normalcy in our lives for everybody,” she said.
Virtual online tours also kicked off Monday for those who are not comfortable with going in person. They're held twice a day and are interactive, which is why logging on costs $10.
"We're excited that’s it’s actually a live tour that you are seeing, as it happens, and you can ask questions, may be if there is something you want to see, they haven't shown you yet, you can ask the questions to the tour guide, and they can customize is a bit to the viewer,” said Mayfield.
Walk-ups can still try to get into the Alamo Church, but only if there are any tickets still available for that day. The reopening does not include the Long Barracks, which remain closed because of preservation work.
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