Theme parks are designed for big crowds and shared experiences. Rides, parades, shows–everything is created to accommodate large groups and keep them in as long as possible. What happens when restrictions and social distancing measures become the new normal?
Like every other industry, theme parks had to think out of the box and rewrite their guidelines to reopen during a pandemic.
Some changes have been more visible than others while others are happening behind the scenes. However, one thing is certain. The theme park experience is going to look very different from now on.
“Measures were great, so much hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer before and after rides, marked distanced line ups, distancing on the rides by blocking off half the ride. You also had to pre-book and select a specific time to go.
They gave out branded masks too.” – Shardae Brown, with daughter Layla (5) – Playland, Vancouver BC
Most parks will cap their capacity to avoid overcrowding and ensure that social distancing measures are maintained. The actual capacity will be dictated by the local regulations (e.g., county, state, and country) governing individual theme parks. These can vary based on the number of cases recorded.
Health and Safety
Guests should expect temperature screenings at security checkpoints. They will be required to wear masks on most rides, if not during the entire stay at the park. Sanitizing stations will be clearly marked and located before entering and after exiting a ride.
Cashless payments and virtual tickets
To avoid touching hands and passing things around, most theme parks will request park-goers to pre-book their visit. Virtual tickets will be issued and cashless payments will be encouraged throughout the parks.
Waiting in line
Most parks will have clearly displayed social distancing markers for appropriate queueing to avoid overcrowding. Others will implement virtual queueing to help reduce lines.
Cleaning protocols for all rides will be implemented at regular intervals in all parks. Overnight cleaning procedures will also be enhanced. Staff members will be provided with protective gear to make sure that they are also kept safe when checking lap bars and safety restraints.
“The rides were sanitized often and we were asked to wear masks on all rides. There was sanitizing gel before and after every ride and all the staff was wearing gloves and masks. Social distancing was also enforced on all rides, with empty seats in between riders.” – Marta Conte, with daughter Ali (4) – Legoland, London.
Shows are actually a substantial part of the theme park experience. For now, they are the one activity suffering the most from the pandemic. The majority of the parks has suspended all live shows and parades, including fireworks, until further notice.
The same dining restrictions affecting restaurants around the world will have to be implemented in restaurants inside theme parks. Seating capacity will be reduced and diners will have to sit at appropriate social distances. Servers will have to wear protective gear, such as masks and gloves. Guests will get their temperature checked before seating.
These kinds of visible changes are not only necessary but also a way to make visitors comfortable by reassuring them that their stay is safe. Making guests feel safe and earning their trust will be the key goal for theme parks to succeed and survive the pandemic.
To find out more and help plan your next visit, here are some theme parks around the world that are doing it right:
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