At California Theme Parks, No One Can Hear You Scream

At California Theme Parks, No One Can Hear You Scream
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Los Angeles and Orange Counties have moved into the red tier, which means recreational venues can now open. Movie theaters, sports venues, and the Southern California staple: Theme parks, will be open for business as early as April.

This is truly great news, if for no one else than the employees and the vendors who have been shut down and unable to earn money because of the closures. Southern California is a tourist enclave, so it will be a literal shot in the arm for this too. However, before you buy those tickets to Six Flags Magic Mountain or Universal Studios Hollywood, there’s something you might want to consider:

When Southern California theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios and Magic Mountain reopen as early as April, they will likely have to take steps to ensure that screaming on rides doesn’t lead to the spread of COVID-19.

The California Attractions and Parks Association (CAPA), a trade group which represents theme parks statewide, is backing a plan that would tamp down on the effects that shouting and yelling on rides, such as rollercoasters, could have in spreading the virus.

Seriously?! Talk about sucking all the joy out of the experience. So much for revelry and letting it all go.

Besides, attendees have to wear masks; so, doesn’t that mitigate the spread?

The Mayo Clinic not only affirms this, but also confirms that outdoor activities help to disperse the virus, further decreasing its spread.

When you’re outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you’re less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected. But be sure to wear a mask when you can’t maintain distance from others.

So much for “follow the science”. This is closer to “avoid a lawsuit.”

Visitors are limited to groups 10 or less, and from no more than three households. So no big birthday bashes or bachelorette nights allowed. Visitors are also be required to purchase tickets online, in advance. Gone are the days of spontaneously popping up to the park for some impromptu amusement.

Florida has had its theme parks open since last year, and I had opportunity to visit Disney World Orlando with a friend. We had to wear masks throughout the park, with the signs lodging the constant threat of being removed from the park if we did not adhere to the policy. It managed to suck any enjoyment out of the experience. Suffice to say, we grabbed a bite to eat, and looked around for a bit, and that’s it. I had no desire to go on any rides or linger longer than needed. It was the farthest thing from recreation or enjoyment.

My friend lives near Orlando, and goes to Disney World with her family quite often. She has a Disney app which tracks her movements throughout the park. That is creepy enough. However, she told me that on one of her visits with her sister and nieces, when she looked at the app, it had actually recorded the number of times she was asked by staff to put her mask on!

So, even in leisure, it has little to do with safety, and everything to do with control.

Miss me on that.

With the caps on attendance that will be imposed, theme park ticket prices, which were already pretty pricey before the pandemic, are going to be through the roof. Between that, the mask mandates, and the restrictions on not even being able to express your delight on a rollercoaster ride, I think people will simply just stay home.

I know I plan to.

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