(CNN) – Think back on your adventures in the amusement park in those heady days before the coronavirus pandemic.
You might hear screams of fear and joy coming from the roller coaster or see wet riders coming out of a ride in the water. Maybe your mind drifts towards crazy cartoon characters that delight children or restaurants full of delicacies.
What do they have in common? People.
Hordes of people in the immediate area wherever you go. Online to get the entrance. In the meandering tails for the rides. On the races themselves. In line for lemonade. Damn, there is often a line just to get into the bathroom.
It is one thing to find the best way to distribute tables in a restaurant for social distance. It’s another challenge to figure out how many people put on a fixed object like a roller coaster car.
So what will it be like to visit an amusement park when they reopen?
Not surprisingly, the park limited the number of people who could enter on the opening day to 30% of full capacity, and even fewer people than those shown.
In phase 1 of a reopening, the parks must operate at 50% of capacity. Phase 2 would jump up to 75%.
With fewer people in amusement parks, social distance is easier to maintain. And your visit might seem more like a pre-pandemic, non-peak weekday visit during the school year.
While some people may appreciate the elbow room, others thrive on the energy of the crowd and would lose it.
No random enrollment
Visitors must purchase entrance tickets to Shanghai Disneyland online before arrival.
Once guests arrive at Disneyland Disneyland, they must maintain a social distance to enter, with large, bright markers showing where to stay. You must pass a temperature check before entering.
And you should also expect those temperature controls and other safety measures in U.S. amusement parks.
John Sprouls, CEO of Universal Orlando, and Rich Costales, executive vice president of operations for the Universal Orlando resort, said Thursday that all guests will have to go through temperature controls to enter their parks.
Visitors will also need to wear face masks. A disposable mask will be provided free of charge to guests who have not brought their own. And the parking lots will be staggered to avoid close contact with others when exiting the vehicle.
Universal Orlando presented a plan on Thursday to the Orange County Task Force, which it approved, to begin a gradual reopening of its theme parks on June 1 for team members, June 3-4 for guests such as pass holders. annual and general public on June 5. The next plan will be reviewed by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings.
Meetings with the characters
The encounters between characters and mascots are one of the real delights for children (and for their parents, to be honest) in the theme parks. Hugs, group photos and group photos were part of the fun.
This highlight should still be possible, but with major changes. Shanghai Disney shows what is likely to happen when other parks re-open – getaway time encounters.
There, the Disney characters still made their appearance, but they were in a slowly moving outdoor vehicle.
Sproul said that the Universal characters won’t mix with the guests.
This mirrors the IAAPA guide that parks should review meeting and greeting interactions with characters and consider drive-by character experiences in vehicles or remote stage appearances.
Let’s go for a ride
Amusement parks have two challenges in the era of social distancing when it comes to their main attractions: roller coasters and other rides.
First they have to get you involved. And pre-pandemic, it meant snaking around corridors designed to put a group of people in as little space as possible.
Shanghai Disneyland is another harbinger of things to come. The park was detached from every other nave and placed the indicators on the ground to help people line up to keep their distance.
You may find the distances on the rides themselves with coasters and other rides that come out at half the capacity.
Lindich says “my guess is that most parks will continue to go with staggered seating by appointment. I actually saw photos of roller coasters in Japan that used staggered seats during the trip.”
While acknowledging the need, it is not necessarily impatient.
“It’s pretty effective, I guess, but again I’m afraid it takes the fun out of the whole experience when you can’t sit next to your friends and family and enjoy the trip.”
And some elements of water and fogging may be missing in some rides.
“We will eliminate most of the elements of water and fog in some of our outings,” said Universal’s Sprouls. “We make people cloud at certain points, it’s part of expectations. We will reduce or eliminate those so as not to create a situation in which there could be a way to increase the ability of the virus to transmit.”
He said family members and groups in the same family should be comfortable riding in the same vehicle together, if possible.
The association also encourages the use of masks while riding. Advise parks “to evaluate the speed and other dynamics of each attraction to ensure the masks [and] various types of face coverings can be worn and securely attached during racing. ”
You can also expect to see rides canceled and disinfected frequently if IAAPA suggestions are heard.
Shows and entertainment venues
From music and animal shows to parades and fireworks, theme parks in general stage pleasant shows to the crowd that attract multitudes in confined spaces. If the parks follow the guidelines suggested by the IAAPA, you may see the following changes:
– Various signs and areas registered to mark distances.
– More performance than some shows since capacity may be reduced.
– Shows that cannot allow physical removal may be paused when the parks open for the first time.
– Longer times to get in and out of places safely. People could archive by row or section.
– Hand sanitizer at all entrances.
The IAAPA said that places that use VR headsets, 3D glasses, helmets or other accessories may have to leave time for extra cleaning.
When Universal Studios reopens, the interactive play areas will be closed, Sproul said.
The IAAPA also advises parks to reconsider shows with interactions that could entail “getting members of the audience on stage if such interactions cannot be managed while physical distance is maintained”.
So, depending on how you feel in those moments of audience participation, this could be a bad thing or a good thing!
People and businesses around the world are becoming creative in trying to socialize safely. CNN asked a health expert to evaluate how safe these methods are.
Restaurants and shops
Food and drinks – especially liquids on hot summer days – are an important part of the amusement park experience.
– You could look at the menus on board or online and place orders via your smartphone.
– Say goodbye to buffets and self-service salads.
– Say goodbye to social departure with more distant tables and fewer people sitting in the interior spaces.
At Universal, mobile food ordering will be set up in all places and all menus will be disposable.
Watch out for souvenirs and other stores that follow suit: increased use of outdoor stalls, limits on how many people can be in an indoor shop, and plexiglas barriers between you and cashiers.
You can also find PPE for sale along with typical items, said the IAAPA.
There may be instances where only part of a park opens at the same time as the whole shebang.
So, for amusement and theme parks with special sections that more easily adapt to coronavirus security measures, you may see more than those that open first in front of the entire park.
“Proper functioning and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these structures should inactivate the virus in the water,” said the CDC.
“Probably the biggest risk for summer water recreation is the crowd – a changing room crowded with pools … … The most concentrated sources of viruses in such an environment will be the people who frequent the pool, not the pool itself . “
Watch for many of the same measures taken by amusement parks. You may find reduced guest capacity (50% or less) and WWA has stated that you may encounter wave pools, lazy rivers, activity pools, and children’s play facilities with even stricter capacity rules than the overall park.
What about water face masks?
Wearing a mask or face cover depends on the attraction, said the IAPA. Park operators will also need to consider whether a mask could present a hazard to loose articles in places where the head generally goes underwater.
You may find changing rooms with closed sections or lockers to allow for physical removal where IAAPA standards are implemented.
Other security efforts
Finally, chances are you’ll see parks and their employees at work to keep things as hygienic as possible.
Here are some things you might find in the bathroom areas if IAAPA park suggestions are put in place:
– Any other toilet closed to ensure physical spacing protocols in the bathrooms.
– Fountains may be disabled if they cannot be disinfected.
– Some places may go back to paper towels to dry your hands.
– Multiple sinks and toilets with touchless valves or washing devices.
And in general, you will probably enter a world full of hand cleaning and washing and sanitizing stations galore. Everything that people touch.
As Spanos of Six Flags said in his conference call, “We will clean the rides all day. We will have hand washing stations, free disinfectants, masks, sanitizing parks every night.
“And we will have to impose social distancing in all areas, starting with the parking lot, the rides, the queues and the dining areas. And this will be the reality.”
CNN Natasha Chen and Kevin Conlon contributed to this article.
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