It’s been a remarkable year and we’re all yearning to get out to play and venture beyond the walls of our new home offices and makeshift classrooms. With that comes sights set old stomping grounds, entertainment spots, and the things to do in Orlando that put the City Beautiful on the map.
So, now the question on everyone’s mind: “How do you plan to keep me and my family safe?” Keep reading for the safety policies being implemented by the theme parks.
Theme Park Safety Policies Relating To COVID-19
Nowhere are these new protocols more vital than in Orlando’s theme parks. Besides thrilling rides, character parades, and slightly overpriced lunch combos, the theme parks are known for drawing massive crowds. These days, theme parks are scaling back on capacity and increasing safety measures. You may be on the fence about which theme parks are truly safe enough to visit with your family. I did some of the heavy lifting for you and dug into the newly updated policies for five of Orlando’s most popular attractions — looking for increased screenings efforts, updated sanitation protocols, social distancing rules, face mask policies, and more. Here’s what I found:
SeaWorld. Exploring SeaWorld’s newly updated Park Safety page was super easy and informative. SeaWorld has created a detailed list of overall park enhancements to ensure employee and guest safety. Plus, don’t forget — SeaWorld has to consider the health and safety of all of their animals as well! When guests and employees arrive on-property, they must undergo and pass a temperature screening using the CDC temperature recommendation of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. And while SeaWorld is requiring face coverings for all employees and guests over 2 years of age, they have also created designated relaxation areas in the park! In those areas, you can take your mask off for a bit and enjoy some much-needed fresh air. Other enhanced safety measures include:
- Park attendance measured through reservation system to ensure social distancing measures are met
- Temperature Screening at park entrance (must be below 100.4 degrees F)
- Face coverings must be worn at all times by guests (ages 2 and up) and Park Ambassadors
- Touchless turnstiles enabling appropriate physical distancing upon entrance to the park
- Contactless payment options throughout the park
- The installation of plexi-glass barriers, signs, & markers to encourage physical distancing
- A significant increase in the number of hand sanitization stations throughout the park
- COVID-19 specific training for employees to cover all new enhanced park operating procedures
- Limiting capacity and following social distancing guidelines throughout all attractions, shows, restaurants and shops.
- Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures, and frequently cleaning all high touch surfaces
Universal Orlando. One of the first of Orlando’s major parks to reopen after closing their gates in mid-March, Universal Orlando’s new safety measures are quite cut and dry:
- All guests and team members are required to wear a face covering during their visit.
- All guests and team members are required to undergo a temperature check upon arrival.
- Limiting capacity and following social distancing guidelines throughout all attractions, restaurants and shops.
- Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures, and frequently cleaning all high touch surfaces.
To enforce physical distancing, Universal has placed markers all throughout the park which they encourage guests to stand on until the party in front of them moves forward. Universal’s website also features a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section, so curious guests can know everything from where temperature checks will take place, to exactly what kind of face coverings are allowed, before ever stepping foot in the park.
Also, like SeaWorld they've designated specific areas across the parks as “U-Rest” areas, where guests may temporarily remove their face coverings for relief. Please note that social distancing guidelines will apply at each location.
Walt Disney World. For Disney, slow and steady is the way to go. The theme park giant responsible for making dreams come true is set to open nearly a month later than some of its biggest competitors. Like other parks, Disney is working closely with and receiving guidance from the CDC and appropriate government agencies on how to best proceed in re-welcoming guests to the happiest place on earth. Disney’s primary focus lies in enhanced cleaning, physical distancing, and reduced contact. According to Disney, the top things you should know before your visit are as follows:
- Park attendance will be managed via the Disney Park Pass reservation system
- Face coverings are required for all guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members
- Temperature screenings may be required for entry to some locations
- You can make the most of your experience by using the My Disney Experience app
Local passholders and Disney enthusiasts far and wide are eager to get in and experience all of Disney’s changes. Magic Kingdom at a reduced capacity? Sign me up!
Legoland. If you’ve ever stepped barefoot on a random Lego piece in your house, you probably have kids that are itching to spend the day at this park. To make all of their policy changes clear and easy to digest, they’ve broken down their operational updates into four categories: before you arrive, at the parks, at their hotels, and fun from home. Here are the highlights:
Before you Arrive
Legoland encourages their guests to plan ahead and eliminate the need to go to the ticketing counter on site. They also let guests know that they have gone cashless at their park — taking debit or credit cards only. Before your arrival, they ask you to consider whether or not you have traveled internationally, been on a cruise ship, or been in a location with widespread COVID-19 transmission in the last 14 days. They also make it clear that you will not be admitted to the park if you have experienced coughing, a fever over 100.4°F, or difficulty breathing.
At the Parks
Here, Legoland outlines the new safety measures they’ve implemented inside their parks, including enhanced cleaning measures throughout the day to disinfect high-frequency touch points and additional hand sanitizer dispensers. They’ve even pinpointed the location of hand sanitizer stations on their mobile app to make them super easy to locate throughout the park.
At Our Hotels
If you decide to stay at a Legoland hotel, you may notice limited entertainment options and new hygiene screens at many of their service counters. They’ve also made guests aware that their original booking may be reassigned to allow 24-72 hours between guests as much as possible.
Fun from Home
While not necessarily a new safety measure, Legoland has uploaded 14 downloadable PDFs to entertain your kids if you can’t make it to visit them right now. From coloring pages featuring thank you notes to healthcare workers, DIY crafts, mazes and more, anything that helps keep the kids busy at home is a big win!
Gatorland. If you’re not quite ready to visit some of the larger theme parks, but you’re still looking to get out and experience a true Central Florida staple, Gatorland — the self-proclaimed “alligator capital of the world” — has focused on 14 critical areas for safe park operations. In compliance with Orange County’s current face mask requirement, Gatorland is now requiring all guests wear one at their park. Policy update highlights include:
- All employees are required to have their temperature checked before working, and wear face masks at all times in the park.
- The park itself, food venues, retail shops, all shows, and rides now have reduced capacities and seats to provide comfortable and safe social distancing
- All rides, show seating, transaction counters, and pin pads are disinfected after every ride, show, or transaction.
- Over 50 additional handwashing and hand sanitizer stations have been added
- All counters, tables and chairs at food venues are sanitized and cleaned after every guest
As the situation around the globe changes so rapidly, Gatorland says they have a committee of 24 park leaders from every department that have been meeting twice a week since mid-April, embarking upon the largest overhaul of the park in their 70-year history. The result was a 31-page policy manual for safely operating the park in a post COVID-19 world.
As we all begin to navigate the post-COVID-19 world, these newly updated safety policies should ease your mind, ignite your sense of adventure, and empower you to make the best decisions to ensure your safety at the theme parks.