The safest theme park on Earth

Among rising COVID-19 cases, Florida theme parks open with effective new policies.

While+Universal+Orlando+and+Islands+of+Adventure+opened+on+June+5%2C+and+Seaworld+Orlando+on+June+11%2C+Walt+Disney+World+waited+until+July+11+to+open+Magic+Kingdom+and+Animal+Kingdom.+Epcot+and+Hollywood+Studios+followed+on+July+15.+

photo by Gabriella Herrera

While Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure opened on June 5, and Seaworld Orlando on June 11, Walt Disney World waited until July 11 to open Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Epcot and Hollywood Studios followed on July 15.

After months of chaos and confusion, everyone needs just a little bit of happiness. For some, that is binging the latest Netflix true crime documentary, while for others, it is taking a stroll through City Walk at Universal Studios Orlando. 

An essential aspect to a true-blood Floridian is their love for theme parks, but due to the coronavirus these parks have all shut down for much of the first half of 2020.

Despite a continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Seaworld have all decided to open their doors with new guest policies to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and effectively keep guests and employees safe. 

Upon visiting any Florida theme park, guests are greeted by a temperature check to ensure they do not have a temperature over 100.4 degrees. From there, they are required to wear masks that fully cover the mouth and nose and do not contain any mesh or filters. 

Although things appear to be running smoothly at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has its own fair share of problems. Though they put spots on the ground so guests can stay six feet apart in attraction queues, they were poorly placed and often under or significantly over six feet apart, resulting in confusing lines and long waits. 

Magic Kingdom is also known for its near hourly parades. To keep crowds to a minimum, the parades are now very small and fast-moving, keeping it down to just two parades with about two floats each. Still, each time resulted in large gatherings where people usually did not social distance. Though many are massive fans of the parades, there is no point in having one that is short and it decreases social distancing as people gather around the route. 

A few bumps in the road are inevitable, and despite the challenges of controlling the crowd, Disney still handles most guidelines fairly competently. Cast members are quick to politely call out tourists violating the mask policy, and rightfully so. It is ridiculous for guests to put themselves and others at risk just because their face is hot. If tourists truly cannot handle walking around in the heat while wearing their mask, then the best choice is for them to not come at all. 

Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure address this problem with their unique “U-Rest” areas in which people can take off their masks, provided they socially distance. While this may make some more comfortable, it could also lead to a centralized spread of the coronavirus if guests are not careful and workers are not watching. Unless there are not a lot of people using the area, it is likely for the best if they are avoided. 

Meanwhile, Seaworld has quietly been handling the coronavirus with new policies similar to the other two. One new idea that has been executed well are the new lines guests must use to go see each animal exhibit, instead of just walking straight in like they used to. Though many will be annoyed at the idea of having to wait in line to see the sea lions, this will ultimately keep a lot of people safer and help ensure the park does not have to close again. 

Many understandably feel these theme parks are being opened too early, but it is important to note that each of these companies has thousands of employees who will be out of a job unless the parks reopen. The longer companies wait, the more employee cuts occur. Of course people are more at risk when they go to theme parks, but without tourism, how will thousands of people support themselves? 

Overall, Florida’s tourism must begin to reopen, unless the state is ready to deal with even greater unemployment. For the average person, as long as they are being safe and following the set guidelines, there is no reason not to go enjoy the theme parks. If they are quarantining, however, it is probably for the best that they stay home and live vicariously through Instagram. Theme parks should not be the first get-back-out-there experience. The primary theme parks across Central Florida, while not perfect, are doing an excellent job of attempting to get their guests and employees back to a new normal. 

After months of chaos and confusion, everyone needs just a little bit of happiness. For some, that is binging the latest Netflix true crime documentary, while for others, it is taking a stroll through City Walk at Universal Studios Orlando. 

An essential aspect to a true-blood Floridian is their love for theme parks, but due to the coronavirus these parks have all shut down for much of the first half of 2020.

Despite a continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Seaworld have all decided to open their doors with new guest policies to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and effectively keep guests and employees safe. 

Upon visiting any Florida theme park, guests are greeted by a temperature check to ensure they do not have a temperature over 100.4 degrees. From there, they are required to wear masks that fully cover the mouth and nose and do not contain any mesh or filters. 

Although things appear to be running smoothly at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has its own fair share of problems. Though they put spots on the ground so guests can stay six feet apart in attraction queues, they were poorly placed and often under or significantly over six feet apart, resulting in confusing lines and long waits. 

Magic Kingdom is also known for its near hourly parades. To keep crowds to a minimum, the parades are now very small and fast-moving, keeping it down to just two parades with about two floats each. Still, each time resulted in large gatherings where people usually did not social distance. Though many are massive fans of the parades, there is no point in having one that is short and it decreases social distancing as people gather around the route. 

A few bumps in the road are inevitable, and despite the challenges of controlling the crowd, Disney still handles most guidelines fairly competently. Cast members are quick to politely call out tourists violating the mask policy, and rightfully so. It is ridiculous for guests to put themselves and others at risk just because their face is hot. If tourists truly cannot handle walking around in the heat while wearing their mask, then the best choice is for them to not come at all. 

Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure address this problem with their unique “U-Rest” areas in which people can take off their masks, provided they socially distance. While this may make some more comfortable, it could also lead to a centralized spread of the coronavirus if guests are not careful and workers are not watching. Unless there are not a lot of people using the area, it is likely for the best if they are avoided. 

Meanwhile, Seaworld has quietly been handling the coronavirus with new policies similar to the other two. One new idea that has been executed well are the new lines guests must use to go see each animal exhibit, instead of just walking straight in like they used to. Though many will be annoyed at the idea of having to wait in line to see the sea lions, this will ultimately keep a lot of people safer and help ensure the park does not have to close again. 

Many understandably feel these theme parks are being opened too early, but it is important to note that each of these companies has thousands of employees who will be out of a job unless the parks reopen. The longer companies wait, the more employee cuts occur. Of course people are more at risk when they go to theme parks, but without tourism, how will thousands of people support themselves? 

Overall, Florida’s tourism must begin to reopen, unless the state is ready to deal with even greater unemployment. For the average person, as long as they are being safe and following the set guidelines, there is no reason not to go enjoy the theme parks. If they are quarantining, however, it is probably for the best that they stay home and live vicariously through Instagram. Theme parks should not be the first get-back-out-there experience. The primary theme parks across Central Florida, while not perfect, are doing an excellent job of attempting to get their guests and employees back to a new normal. 

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