The rules are changing
Theme parks always seem to be right on top of the list of most popular vacation destinations. Theme parks have become a way of life — a place to go that is fun for the whole family. As a result, theme parks have popped up all across the world. Everyone loves to have a good time — the rides, the scenery, the unexpected surprises and the time spent with the family.
Do you remember your last visit to a theme park? Perhaps that Cinderella-look alike or lovable mouse delighted your child with a personal visit. Of course, feeling the breath of a stranger behind you while waiting in line, or sitting in a Ferris Wheel seat with your hands wrapped around the safety bar that hundreds of people had touched that very day, might not meet the new normal sanitary guidelines we’ve all come to learn.
Is a theme park really worth catching the coronavirus?
While we all agree theme parks might be fun places to go, they can be a petri dish when it comes to contagions. In fact, a theme park could be one of the worst places to go while trying to avoid a virus. Not many other public places corral a large number of people into confined spaces.
If you are trying to protect yourself and your family from catching the coronavirus, a theme park is the last place you should go. That being said, we just have to look at the price of Disney stock to see how it has fared through the epidemic. Disney’s profit plunged 91% during the first three months of 2020. Closing 12 of its parks, due to the COVID-19 virus, caused the plunge. The division of Disney that operates the parks estimates that losses cost the company as much as $1.4 billion.
What will theme parks look like when they reopen?
Eventually, our world will begin to rotate on its axis once more, in a manner of speaking. The theme parks will reopen. What will they look like when they reopen? How would you adjust a theme park to operate during a contagious pandemic? Is that even possible? One quick and easy solution is to check “guest’s” temperatures as they enter the park. From what we understand about the coronavirus, people may have it but not show any symptoms, such as high temperature. Thus, checking temperature would be ineffective.
According to the world health organization,
Temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread, since infected individuals may be in incubation period, may not express apparent symptoms early on in the course of the disease, or may dissimulate fever through the use of antipyretics; in addition, such measures require substantial investments for what may bear little benefits. It is more effective to provide prevention recommendation messages to travelers and to collect health declarations at arrival, with travelers’ contact details, to allow for a proper risk assessment and a possible contact tracing of incoming travelers. WHO
Other safety measures being imposed by Disney World
Dr. Pam Hymel, Disney Park’s Chief Medical Officer, outlined several safety measures her parks would endorse as soon as the parks reopen.
Advanced registration and a strict attendance system will ensure only a certain number of guests are in the park as well as on certain rides and attractions.
Everyone has to wear a mask at all times, except while eating.
Hand sanitizers will be at the start of every attraction as well as at the end. Places that get touched a lot, like door handles, handlebars and attraction vehicles will be sanitized often.
How will a theme park compensate lost revenue?
Such changes invite a stream of questions. How many guests are considered safe to have in a park at a given time? How do they come up with that number? Also, how will the parks compensate for lost revenue, if they only allow a fraction of guests to enter? To compensate considerable drops in attendance, will prices increase?
How will people react to such a regimented theme park visit? None of us know the answers as there’s no template for any of this. Time will tell. And that time may arrive sooner than we think.