Roller Coasters in the time of COVID-19 pt 3
Two days ago all the theme parks in the Ceder Fair, which includes our local park California's Great America, chain announced 2020 season passes will have it automatically extended to cover the 2021 season. Yesterday the governor of my state, Gavin Newsom laid out a plan that indicates that theme park, like concerts or sporting events, will not open for many many months, maybe not until the end of 2020.
It is hard to find good stats about theme park attendance stats. I might not know all the tools, but I'd like to know what Heavy, Average, and light attendance days at theme parks are. I read somewhere that Disneyland has around 51,000 customers a day and Disney California Adventure has about 28,000. If that is true, I do not think we will see those kind of attendances again until we have a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Can you even take effective measures and open an amusement park? I saw a video about what an amusement park could do to have social distancing. Most of these ideas seem a little absurd to me. I am not sure having people ride every other car on a roller coaster would really be effective social distancing. How much longer will it take to cycle through rides if you need to disinfect cars between each ride? If you limit the attendance by 60% will the ticket have to be 3 times more expensive? How long will people in line if the rides are slower.
There are two types of risk theme parks face when they reopen. The first is a legal risk. Unless a park is grossly neglect or deceptive, I don't they they will face any legal responsibility. It is hard to think anyone would be able to sue a company for getting COVID-19 on their property.
The other type of risk is reputational risk. If people think your business is not safe, people are not going to go. The best example of this is how people feel about cruise ships. I know some people are still booking cruises for the future, but the marginal cruise ship customers. If there is an out break of COVID-19 linked to a theme park, this could be a problem I think this is more of a problem for parks owned by the major companies. I could see independent parks opening before Disney, Six Flags, Seaworld, or Universal parks.
Further Reading: Carnivals Fairs Festivals and amusement parks are we last to open and why
Disney Parks Might Not Reopen Until 2021
Cedar Point's parent company argues it's vital to local economy
Universal, SeaWorld and Disney Join Forces to Plan Reopening Strategy
Bob Iger Speaks Out on Measures Needed to Make Guests "Feel" Safe When Disney Reopens
Universal Parks Considering Aggressive Reopening Measures Including Mandatory Testing, Face Masks, and More