New Rules for Theme Parks and Covid-19
Even in normal times, before Covid-19, going to a theme park such as those under the Disney or Universal Studio brand, was a positive yet negative experience due to crowds, long wait times for rides, cost, mayhem, parking. You name it, even the weather could rain on your parade!
Now, add to all this Covid-19 and the new normal. Theme parks now have some more rules to follow if they are allowed to open, the first to do so is Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida on June 5th. Now, the new rules are to protect the workers there and the patrons, of course. They are constraining and will cause even more mayhem as the rules are implemented and enforced. They are necessary but will this new reality be worth the visit to a theme park?
New Theme Park Rules
Most of the major theme parks use similar constraints, here is the list:
- Less parking available to curtail occupancy
- Restricted levels of occupancy
- Patrons must wear masks at all times (how would this work out with little kids, or at a waterpark?)
- People 65 and older are not allowed in the park at all since they are in the comprised group
- Anyone who is compromised in health cannot enter
- Those with disabilities may not be allowed in
- Social distancing is a must at all times. How will this work? Imagine the super long lines and waits for a 20 second ride.
- Everyone must sanitize their hands before touching surfaces on rides. That means take a quart of hand sanitizer with you!
- Rides will be sanitized between each ride (causing even more delay and wait times)
- Social distancing and mask wearing will be enforced within the park by "park ambassadors". Those who refuse to comply will be forced to leave. One can only imagine how often this will occur.
- There will be limited food and drink available within the park depending on the food service and occupancy.
- Each patron will have their temperature taken upon entering. If over 100F, entrance will be denied. But what about within the park and fever develops?
- Limited park hours of operation
Those are the key rules for the big parks at this time. Think of a family entering the park to enjoy a day. Each having to where a mask for hours, while on rides, in the hot, humid, weather Orlando has. The mask will become moist or wet, like a blanket, it will make breathing difficult. You take it off because you are fed up with rules and the "ambassador" spots you and politely confronts you. Tempers flare and you are escorted out of the park, leaving the other members. Now what? Beg for mercy? The other members go on without you?
Or, how about just waiting in line for an hour for the ride. How about wearing the mask at a water park? Do you need to carry a supply of masks with you so you have one after each ride because the mask will get wet! What about the disinfecting of handrails, stairs, handles, that lead up to the ride itself? How often will this be done?
Maybe another rule is that all patrons must wear rubber gloves? This way, in the places that are not disinfected often enough, you are protected.
In the end, will the hassle of going to a theme park even be worth it? Will the experience be good, worth the time and money for the risk of Covid-19 exposure? All of the theme park rules defeat its end goal of family enjoyment. Reopening them is a rush to normalcy, to which is now gone.
The new normal is much more restrictive in our daily lives until a vaccine arrives. I suspect that theme parks may close again once they see that the problems and liability of reopening does not justify corporate risks. As it will only take one Covid-19 case to be traced to a theme park to force a closure. This will surely happen.
Just keep them closed until next year. Disney and Universal can afford it.