A lot like the world is has been shut down in response to the global health crisis.
The Disney Parks weren’t the only theme parks to shutter up for the safety of guests! Theme parks around the world have seen lengthy closures and some, like Disney Parks around the world, have remained closed longer than they ever have before.
Now, many of these parks are starting to reopen or at least develop a plan to do so. As Disney looks to reopen Shanghai Disneyland likely followed by the other parks, what can we learn from the measures that non-Disney parks are taking?
We’re taking a look at four different theme parks and their choices when it comes to protecting the health, safety, and trust of their guests.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain is a popular, large-scale amusement park located in California. According to the Themed Entertainment Association’s 2018 Theme Index, it ranked as the 16th most popular theme park in the country.
We’re taking a look at Six Flags Magic Mountain because its teams have published reports of actions they plan to take upon reopening — which makes them a rarity in the U.S.. Though we’ve heard some considerations from Disney and Universal, nothing concrete has been announced from the larger companies on their domestic parks.
According to CBS Los Angeles, the reports from Six Flags Magic Mountain detail a health and safety plan for reopening that includes face masks, temperature checks, and constant sanitization. As we have heard Disney consider, the park will also be limiting the number of people allowed in line for each ride to promote physical distancing.
Six Flags Magic Mountain maintains the statement that they plan to reopen in mid-May or, “as soon as possible thereafter.” However, per the New York Times, this statement was posted on March 30th so it’s possible that this information is outdated as they will be limited by the California government’s reopening plan. Theme parks fall under Phase 4 of the plan which could potentially be months away.
On the other side of the globe, Fantawild parks in China have begun a phased reopening — just like Disney Shanghai plans to do. According to Attractions Magazine, parts of the Fantawild theme parks began opening in April. With over 30 locations primarily in China, Fantawild has a pretty massive reach, and the way they conduct their reopening could show some indication of what is possible for Disney parks.
Fantawild has chosen to cap total daily attendance at 50% of maximum capacity and to limit the number of people within the park at any given time to 30% of maximum capacity. To garner entry into the park, guests need to make an advance appointment online where they will be issued an assigned entry time that is staggered with other guests to control capacity.
Once at the parks, guests must wear face masks, participate in touchless temperature checks, and remain 1 meter apart from one another. It’s unclear how Fantawild is enforcing this and what happens to guests who don’t comply!
Beyond that, there are significant cleaning protocols that have been introduced. Cleaning personnel use disinfectant frequently to sanitize all public areas and employees disinfect seats, armrests, and 3D glasses after each use for indoor attractions. In the restaurants of Fantawild parks, all utensils are disposable and tables have been spaced out to promote distancing.
We have been curious to see how Disney will handle distancing measures on attractions, so it’s of note that Fantawild parks ARE staggering seating on rides. All seats immediately beside and behind every guest remain empty, leaving attractions operating at 50% capacity.
Large-scale theme park companies aren’t the only ones that may have telling policies that we can apply to Disney. Holiday World, a theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana (yes, really!), is a small family-fun amusement park that has made some waves for being one of the first theme parks in the US to announce an official opening date. If all goes to plan, Holiday World will open its gates on June 14th in line with the Indiana state government’s plans.
Holiday World has yet to release full guidelines as to how guests can expect the park to be different, though they did mention readily-available hand-sanitizer, regular sanitization of rides, and potentially limited park attendance.
What’s especially noteworthy about Holiday World, though, is that June 14th opening date. That gives us a window of the earlier days that theme parks could potentially begin to open in the United States. This could be telling for Disney parks, especially as a Senior VP for Disney World mentioned that just because they’re taking June 1st reservations, doesn’t mean that they’ll be open by then.
San Diego Theme Parks
Now, as we mentioned above, the Reopen California plan suggests that theme parks will reopen in Phase 4 of the plan, which could be months away. However, San Diego theme parks including Legoland, Sea World, San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, and the USS Midway, have managed to craft procedures that will allow them to open in Phase 3 of the plan — still a while away, but still sooner than Phase 4.
According to the Orange County Register, the coalition of San Diego theme parks has agreed on an extensive list of protocols that takes them from Phase 4 up into Phase 3. Some of these measures include health screening, distancing, sanitization and disinfection protocols, signage and communication, food & beverage measures, and water park protocols.
Now, what this implies is that Disneyland could possibly take actions that would allow them to open earlier in the scope of the Governor’s plans if they chose to pursue that course. Governor Newsom did not specifically mention theme parks in the phases, so it’s possible Disney could have a bit of flexibility. If Disney employs enough health measures in their parks, they may be able to open in the penultimate phase of the plan instead of having to wait until all sanctions are lifted. But this hasn’t been mentioned publicly by any Disney representative.
So When Will Disney Parks in the U.S. Reopen?
The big question is still when it is that the domestic parks will reopen. There is still little visibility about this. With Shanghai Disneyland’s reopening we can see potential domestic park policies. And Disney’s Chief Medical Officer gave some insight into what the parks are considering, like virtual queues, distancing measures, and capacity limits.
But though Disney World is currently taking reservations for June 1st at its resort hotels, we still don’t have a confirmed reopening date. Regardless, Disney execs have assured that the parks will open again — we just have to wait until it is safe for them to do so. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping a close eye on any news of what health measures Disney will be using in the parks. They’ve even already started suggesting some steps they could take! Until we know the official Disney parks reopening dates, stay safe!
What do you think of the health measures that other theme parks are introducing? Share your thoughts in the comments!