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New water park opening in Tennessee amid COVID-19 pandemic

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new water park in the Smoky Mountains foothills of Tennessee is preparing to open to visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 50-acre Soaky Mountain Waterpark in Sevierville said it's slated to open June 27, with preview days on June 25 and 26 for guests of Wilderness at the Smokies and season pass holders. 

Masks will be optional in the park and not allowed in or on water attractions. Social distancing requirements and other precautions will be in place. 

The park's leadership said it's comfortable opening because federal officials have advised that there's no evidence COVID-19 can spread through water in pools or hot tubs. 

The water park cost about $90 million to build and will have nearly 500 full and part-time employees.