After months without large gatherings and access to public spaces due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, major theme parks in the U.S. and Canada — including Disney, Universal and Canada’s Wonderland — are slowly beginning to discuss reopening for the summer.
In an attempt to keep such high traffic spaces safe from COVID-19, plans include mechanisms to support social distancing between guests, temperature checks upon entering the parks and more.
The U.S.-Canada border remains closed and non-essential travel is prohibited, but it’s not likely these measures will be in place for many months to come. The current agreement between the U.S. and Canada limiting border crossings to essential travel only expires June 20.
Below, the reopening plans for some of the most popular theme parks in the U.S. and Canada.
Walt Disney World Resort, Fla.
The plan revealed Wednesday by Walt Disney World Resort includes “limits on attendance and controlled guest density” to allow for physical distancing, and the cancellation of all “large group gatherings” like parades and evening shows.
All employees and guests older than three years of age will be required to wear “appropriate face coverings” and everyone will have to undergo temperature checks prior to entering the parks.
The company also committed to installing handwashing and sanitizing stations, plexiglass barriers at food and shopping locations and making available cashless payment options.
“High touch experiences” like meet and greets, playgrounds and water parks will be closed for the time being.
Disney has tentatively scheduled Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom to reopen on July 11, and Hollywood Studios and Epcot three days later on July 15. The plan is still pending approval by Orange County and the state of Florida.
The full proposal can be found here.
Universal Resort, Fla.
Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay will reopen June 5, according to a statement posted May 22.
“This carefully managed reopening comes with stringent new health, safety and hygiene procedures in place,” the statement reads.
“Note that any public location where people are present provides an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit.”
According to the site, all guests and employees will be required to wear a face covering and undergo a temperature check before entering the park. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater will not be allowed to enter.
The park will have a number of “floor markings” to help guests stay two metres or six feet apart at all times, per CDC guidelines.
The park will also have limited capacity to make it easier to follow social distancing guidelines.
The full plan can be found here.
Six Flags Frontier City, Okla.
The Six Flags Frontier City located in Oklahoma will be the first Six Flags park to reopen after coronavirus closures.
The plan to reopen on June 5 was created “in coordination with expert epidemiologists,” according to the website.
Among other things, the plan requires that all attendees have been healthy for at least 14 days prior to visiting, and all guests and employees older than 2 years of age will be required to wear a face mask at all times — even in water parks.
According to the website, “state-of-the-art temperature reading technology” will be used to check the temperature of guests and employees prior to entering the park.
Capacity will be limited and physical distancing measures will be put in place for line-ups, seating areas and even on rides and attractions.
Read the full reopening plan here.
Canada’s Wonderland, Ont.
As of May 8, there is still no reopening plan for Canada’s Wonderland located in Vaughn, Ont.
“We are in constant communication with our provincial and federal governments and are looking forward to welcoming you back just as soon as it is safe to do so,” reads a statement posted to the park’s website.
No formal plans for added sanitation or physical distancing measures have been shared by the park.
Six Flags La Ronde, Que.
There is still no reopening date scheduled for La Ronde, the Six Flags theme park located in Montreal, Que.
On March 30, a statement posted to its website read: “La Ronde has the safety and well-being of its guests and employees at heart,” and it will not reopen until it’s absolutely safe to do so.
“We will continue to monitor developments closely and will follow the directions of the federal, provincial and municipal governments,” said the statement.
Great Wolf Lodge, Ont.
The famous water park located just outside Niagara Falls, Ont., will not reopen until Aug. 26, 2020, according to a statement on its website.
“Like you, we are actively supporting these efforts to ensure the health and safety of our Guests and Pack Members, and assist with the overall well-being of the communities we serve,” reads the statement. “Therefore, in response, we have decided to extend the closure of our resort through August 26, 2020, and will be accepting new reservations for stays from August 27 onward.”
The park is working in collaboration with “medical experts, sanitization specialists and industrial engineers” to develop a safe plan for reopening amid the pandemic, according to the statement.
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Included in the plan are more frequent sanitizations using “hospital-grade disinfectants,” a reduced capacity of 50 per cent or less and floor markers signifying six feet of space between guests in all queues and seating areas.
The park will include more hand-sanitizer stations, and guests will be able to request a complimentary face mask at the front desk.
Read the full plan to reopen here.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
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