How I did it and what YOU should do if you are planning on visiting a theme park in 2020.
Let's face it: Amusement parks are known to be germy, crowded places as much as we all love them. Having hundreds or even thousands of people in a shared space should seem scary to everyone right now. You are sharing seats that other people sat in and touching surfaces that other people touched, and who knows where these people came from. Visiting parks right now sounds dangerous, but how dangerous is it really? Here is what my experience was like, what parks I visited, and your guide to having fun in 2020.
The planning phase
Before I start out, I want to reiterate that I did not blindly decide to go without evaluating the risks. As much as I love riding roller coasters, I also care about my safety. A huge part of going to amusement parks now is planning things with your safety in mind. Back in May when everything was starting to open up, I had the mission planned already: Avoid as many people as possible but still be able to have fun. I would do this in a few different ways.
- Consider looking at videos or blog posts from coaster enthusiasts who have visited parks that have reopened. This will provide you with information on how well the park is implementing the new policies, and it can give you an idea of how safe you will be.
- When a park opens back up after a closure like this, it is natural to see larger crowds on opening day so it would be best to avoid going right away.
- Avoid going on weekends, as from previous experience these are the days when the most people show up.
- Choose your parks carefully. If Cedar Point was open in June, I would not have travelled to Ohio despite that being the original plan. I wouldn’t want to risk being infected while travelling and passing it on to others. Instead, I chose to stay in Texas where I am right now. When looking at parks in Texas, my first choice was Six Flags because I trust their safety. Although I could have gone to both Six Flags parks in the state, I used the process of elimination to chose the one I really wanted to visit. That way I could limit exposure. I was hesitant to go to Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and Kemah Boardwalk after seeing that nobody was wearing masks and they were not limiting attendance. You may not have known that I enjoy water parks and have been dying to visit one. There are many awesome-looking ones nearby but I just don’t think it’s safe right now. First of all, nobody’s going to wear a mask when there’s water involved. Secondly, although chorine kills germs and sunlight could also kill the virus, it would be impossible to sanitize a slide after each person travels down it. Overall, it all comes down to how you evaluate the risks, but it is important keep these kinds of things in mind.
- Talk to people. Ask your family members or friends if they think its the right decision. Before each of my park visits, I had long meetings with my family, where we discussed every possible outcome. There were many times when we were unsure about it, sometimes even one day before going at least one person said “I don’t think we should go, it’s not worth the risk”. Of course, these conversations made me anxious and then I had to come up with extra safety precautions should I actually go. For example, when planning the surprise trip to San Antonio, I chose to book a room with a trustable hotel company that we already used earlier on during this pandemic.
- Last but not least, be prepared for change. We live in a time of uncertainty, and I am used to planning trips to amusement parks far in advance. Times have changed, and all of my park visits have been planned last-minute instead. The trip to San Antonio almost didn’t even happen because by the time we waited two weeks after my first park visits, the hospitals were already overcrowded with COVID patients. Literally the day before we left, Texas became a red alert and I got a message on my phone saying that people are urged to stay at home. If I didn’t go then, I would not be able to go at all – I had no idea when I might be back in Texas. It was a now or never situation, as the problem with the virus could only get worse. This made me very anxious so we had another talk before deciding to take the risks, but agreed to not go to any other parks after this trip. This was a tough decision as I really wanted to go back to Kemah Boardwalk, but I ultimately decided to go to some parks I have never visited before.