With planned staged openings throughout cities and states and American’s stuck home or only traveling to locations close to home, it is expected that theme parks will be in high demand for vacation experiences this year.
So what can we expect? Will the “happiest place on earth” still fill an emotional need without hugs during social distancing? Will live character’s be wearing masks? What about queue’s how will they navigate the long waits and people sharing space? What will change with daily protocols and food service?
Six Flags has announced when they reopen, they will have safety precautions in effect. Crowd control will be in effect with scheduled entry times (reserved in advance), staggered so guests can enter without mass crowds. Temperature checks will be mandatory at the park entrance. Masks will be required, hand washing stations will be added throughout the parks as will sanitizing stations at ride exits. Employee’s will be disinfecting rides between guests, separating families by empty rows and seats for social distancing. One way walking path’s will be set to keep guests apart.
Disney has recently re-opened their downtown area Disney Springs with some shops and limited restaurant options and is making plans to reopen parks in stages. Starting with Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom on July 11, and then Hollywood Studios and Epcot on July 15. Theme park attendance will be scheduled and restricted sans their most popular parades, nightime experiences and character greetings. Character’s will be scattered around the park in no-contact zones for waves and to blow kisses. Not all dining venues will be open (buffet’s and family style are out) will be restrictive to reservations and app use. They will restrict park hopping due to the scheduled visit requirement.
Universal has announced the reopening of their parks, including their water park Volcano Bay in Florida, early June and are stating that they cannot guarantee that guest’s will not get Coronavirus by visiting and by purchasing a ticket and entering the parks you are accepting the consequences. That makes me want to join the party! Similar to Six Flags, Universal will be requiring masks, temperature checks and hand sanitizer stations will be available while they also will be limiting capacity and increasing cleaning protocols. They are encouraging use of their dining app’s for contactless dining experiences.
So is the cost of an entrance ticket worth the limited experience? Single day tickets (single park) are currently at $119 a day for Universal, $115 for the Magic Kingdom, $107 for the other parks, Six Flags tickets start at $42.
Limited crowds will be enjoyed at theme parks, but for the regular theme park guests and family who have saved up for their summer vacation, they may be left feeling like the “Whole New World” is not a “Zip-a-dee Do Dah” day but instead a long slow ride on “Its a Small World”.