After the longest pit stop in the show's history, The Amazing Race is officially back for Season 33.
The competition series has been a long-running favorite on CBS since it premiered in 2001, but the lockdowns and travel restrictions resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic kept it off the air for more than a year.
The 11 teams featured on the 33rd season started the race before the pandemic began. However, they filmed most of the season a year and a half later, once safety measures were put in place.
Though much of the main format of the show — like the detours, the roadblocks, and host Phil Keoghan's Pit Stop conclusions — has remained the same, many changes were made in order to ensure that the cast and crew members would be able to film without further production shutdowns.
What were these changes, and how did the global adventure show manage to successfully shoot an entire season during the COVID-19 pandemic? Keep reading to find out.
How did they film 'The Amazing Race' Season 33 during the COVID-19 pandemic?
While many scripted and unscripted shows returned to filming a few months into the pandemic, figuring out the right logistics to shoot The Amazing Race proved to be a considerable challenge.
After all, the show is all about international travel, and the teams are meant to immerse themselves in the experience by interacting with locals. Several key changes had to be made in order for filming to work. Season 33, therefore, will be different from any other season we've seen before.
Filming actually originally commenced on Season 33 in February 2020, about a month before the pandemic restrictions began in the United States. The contestants completed three legs of the race (and two teams were eliminated) before the shutdowns began and everyone was sent home.
When production resumed in September 2021 — following the widespread distribution of the vaccine, and a decrease in overall positive cases — two of the original teams were not able to return.
The crew has yet to reveal how this curveball affected the season.
During the race itself, the duos largely participated in roadblocks and detours outdoors. This was done in an attempt to decrease the potential spread of the virus in an indoor setting.
While the racers did still drive or use public transportation during the show, everyone involved took extra measures to abide by COVID-19 safety precautions.
The cab or rental car aspect of the series remained somewhat consistent in Season 33, but the biggest change of all had to do with flying.
Though booking the right flights was a hurdle that could make or break a team's performance on "normal" seasons of the show, all of the pairs on Season 33 are traveling together on one chartered flight. During certain legs of the season, the teams did not know where they were flying to until they landed.
The crew was also expanded for Season 33 to include several COVID teams, who specialized in testing the contestants regularly.
'The Amazing Race' filming locations were limited during Season 33.
When shooting for Season 33 began in 2020, there were plans for the teams to head around the United Kingdom, and then to Northern Italy, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, South America, and Austria.
Before production halted, the Season 33 stars had finished legs in England and in Scotland.
Once the filming hiatus concluded in the fall of 2021, the teams went around to several cities in Switzerland, including Lugano and Zürich.
The remaining teams traveled to in Halkidiki and Thessaloniki in Greece, and they went to Corsica in France. They stopped in Portugal's capital city, Lisbon, before they went back to the United States with a Los Angeles finale.
The season will be the most unique one in The Amazing Race history, which only makes sense considering how the last two years have gone.
The Amazing Race Season 33 airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.