Around the globe, attractions that were closed in response to the global COVID-19 crisis, including theme parks, water parks, family entertainment centres (FECs), zoos, museums, and aquariums, are beginning to reopen with new measures in place for the health and safety of guests and employees.
To assist industry operators and facilities, IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, developed reopening guidance, in partnership with attractions industry leaders from around the world and in consultation with medical professionals and health-related guidance from government agencies. The guidance provides considerations to help attractions assess their current operations and make appropriate adjustments in the wake of COVID-19.
“The health and safety of guests and employees has always been the number-one priority for the global attractions industry,” said Hal McEvoy, president and CEO, IAAPA. “Parks and attractions around the world are excited to welcome back their employees and guests. While an attraction visit may be different, and new procedures – such as wearing a face covering – may now be required, it’s critical that guests play an active role and cooperate in following new protocols to ensure everyone continues to have fun, memorable, and safe experiences.”
As guests prepare to return to their favourite theme park or attraction, below are a few examples of what they can expect:
Call or book ahead
To allow for physical distancing, most attractions are opening at reduced capacity, which means fewer tickets are available each day. Guests are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets in advance. Some attractions may no longer offer tickets for sale on-site at the entrance, so pre-purchasing online or over the phone may be the only option.
Temperature checks may be required
Many parks are requesting guests check their temperature before leaving their home or hotel room and are checking temperatures at their front entrances before guests are admitted. If guests have a fever, or feel ill, it is best to stay home.
Expect to wear a face covering
Global, national, and local health organizations agree wearing face coverings can help limit the spread of the COVID-19, and many parks and attractions are making them a requirement for both employees and guests. Guests are encouraged to check the park’s website and social media channels in advance before purchasing tickets to understand requirements.
Parks and attractions are going to extraordinary lengths to help their guests have a great time while also following physical distancing guidelines. Guests may see many new signs, new line formats, and signage to mark spacing as well as possible ride reservation systems and “virtual queuing” to help reduce the number of people – and time – spent in lines. Guests are encouraged to visit a park’s website or app before visiting in case such reservations are required ahead of the day of visit.
Wash hands; avoid touching your face
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say thorough and frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. Parks are providing hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations and are taking additional steps to sanitize high-touch surfaces and maintain cleanliness. Guests are encouraged to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and to avoid touching their face.
Expect more from smartphones during the next visit. Instead of handing over a paper ticket, many parks use digital tickets or QR codes that can be scanned from a phone for entry. Some attractions are implementing contact-free transactions so purchases can be made online, prior to a visit or by using smartphones. Smartphones can also be used to order food and purchase souvenirs at some attractions.
As parks and attractions reopen worldwide, guests are encouraged to visit the location’s website to understand new procedures and guidelines before they arrive.