Hi everyone my name is Luca. I live in Orlando, Florida which is the home of the theme park Universal studios theme park. I have had the liberty of visiting the park again for the first time in one year since the pandemic first hit. I was curious to see how much of the park has changed since the last time I was there. I gotta be honest, it pretty much felt like the same park except for a few key differences. Everyone was wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and refraining from eating their snacks when they walked. So even though those people were still going on rides, hanging out and having a good time it was obvious that there were specific rules and regulations that were made to keep the visitors healthy while also making sure that the entire park was still making a profit out of the rides, Islands of Adventure and the City Walk. So I asked myself, “what are the kinds of rules and regulations that keep your average theme park in business in the midst of a pandemic ?’ You’ll be surprised to find out that a lot of thought has been put into this new normal for a theme park like Universal.
What was the first response ?
When extreme cases of COVID-19 started spreading all across the U.S back in March 2020, theme parks had no choice but to close themselves off from the general public. Major precautions had to be taken during the first lockdown such as thousands of hourly employees and cast members being furloughed, pausing major renovations and losing millions of faithful local visitors during its closure. For a moment, it seemed as if amusement parks were never going to see the light of day ever again as the pandemic cost theme parks like Disneyland more than $2 billion in lost operating income and revenue. The government stated that they were not to be reopened until the COVID-19 cases have fallen substantially. That might have sounded like bad news for all of the former visitors who missed forgetting about their issues on a giant roller coaster, but the parks themselves, it did give them a lot of free time for some efficient reevaluation.
What are the massive changes implemented ?
Over the past couple months of its closure, the theme parks have taken their time to formulate new safety regulations that adhere to not just vaccinated people but older adults and those who have serious underlying medical conditions. With help from the CDC they have established that everyone is required to wear a mask or face covering during their visit, temperature checks will be required (More than 100 degrees is a bad sign), wash their hands often for 20 seconds (Or use hand sanitizer often), be aware of the social distancing floor markings, follow team member direction and not come in contact with people who are sick. All of those rules also apply to all the employees and cast members as it is their job to do so.
I think that theme parks are making the right decisions with these new guidelines as it is generating a positive response since it reopened back in June 2020. I would like to do my part by taking its new rules and safety guidelines very seriously as there are members who are keeping an eye out for rule breakers. I would maintain separation from everyone, even those who had early park access. I would take into consideration that certain areas of the park are roped off until further notice and make sure to use the Universal app to buy my ride tickets and reserve spots for concerts. I would even maintain social distancing on roller coasters as well ! If I can maintain efficient and respectful behavior for the safety of all who love to come to this theme park, I am confident that Universal Studios will make a grand reopening in the safest way possible.
Therefore, I believe that theme parks are doing extremely well at the moment as most of all of their tourists are managing to follow the rules and behave. However, there are still obstacles that these them parks will need to overcome like integrating these rules as an official part of them and teaching Generation C how to assert themselves properly. If everyone can take a chance to keep their masks on the whole day, constantly use hand sanitizer and maintain social distancing whenever they wait in line to go on a roller coaster. If those people can follow those rules, theme parks like Disneyland, Universal and Six Flags can prosper, no matter how long we fight this pandemic.
Questions to discuss among yourselves (Feedback is also welcome !):
- What you your opinion about going to theme parks during the pandemic ? Would you be willing to spend some time there safely or would you rather stay home until the majority of everyone is vaccinated ?
- How do you think those theme parks should promote social distancing and mask wearing to children growing up in the pandemic ?
- Do you happen to know anyone who strongly oppose the new rules and guidelines ? If so, what do you think makes them believe that we shouldn’t value our safety and the safety of others ?
- How would you make sure that a high-risk friend or relative stays safe and healthy in a theme park ?
- If you have recently been to a theme park, how would you describe the behavior of the visitors regarding the safety guidelines ?