A Day At Six Flags And What Theme Parks Are Like Today
My family and I visited Six Flags America, in the DC-Baltimore region, for a fun day of riding roller coasters and water slides. After spending the last few months at home, the idea of a one day staycation, close to home, sounded good. No plane trip, no hotel, just an easy 35-minute drive. We made our reservation online, as is required so that parks can control crowd size, and this was easy. We could also easily arrange for parking at the same time. The reservation is for the full day and we were not required to pick a specific arrival or departure time. We planned to get there when the park opened at eleven am.
Here are the seven big things I learned on this visit:
Cleanliness Was Evident
All around the park, we saw employees constantly cleaning. Seats on the rides were being sprayed and wiped before new riders were allowed on. Sanitation stations were at the entrance and exit of every ride and also all throughout the park. Bathrooms were clean and an attendant was located at each one to keep it that way. As the park limited attendance, nothing seemed crowded but there was a very visible sense of cleanliness.
Masks and Temperature Checks
Going through the turnstiles, we walked underneath a device that took our temperature and flashed green for each of us. I asked the attendant what makes it turn red and what happens. She told me that it turns red at 100.4 degrees and if this happens they ask the person to step into a shaded area for a few minutes. They have found that sometimes, especially after a longer car ride on a sunny day, this can artificially raise ones’ temperature a bit. After a few minutes, they try again and if still red, the person is asked to leave for the day. This seems like a practical and customer friendly way to do this, and I wondered how much it cost and how quickly they were able to get those temperature scanners installed.
In the park, masks were required all the time except for eating. This includes walking around and on the rides, too. We found this not too bothersome especially compared with spending another day at home. At times we saw other guests with their masks around their necks and in almost every case a Six Flags employee approached them and asked them to put their mask back on. Everyone we saw complied, and in most cases it seemed like they were just hot. Interestingly, the park offered several ‘mask free’ areas where you could go, stay well distanced from others, and stand under a nice cooling mist. This was a nice touch.
Distancing Was Everywhere and Practical
There was good signage and stickers in all the ride queues to maintain distancing, and everyone complied. The rides themselves were distanced in a very practical way — the gates you line up in to get into the rides were roped off at least every other one. One roller coaster had seven cars, and only three were filled for each run. This made the queues longer of course but with the attendance capped at only about 20% of normal this balanced nicely and we hardly ever waited in a line, and when we did it was short. Walking around, families stuck together of course but everyone seemed conscious to stay apart from other groups.
Eating Made Sense
The many food options in the park offered order by phone app that was easy and quick. This allowed customers to order lunch or a snack while walking to it, and the food would be ready as you approached or you’d know because they would ping the app. Near the popular food spots were seating areas that had been adjusted for good distance, so it was easy to eat, stay hydrated, and sit down safely. The app worked great. The vendors also accepted credit, so you didn’t have to use the app, but most people I saw were using the app.
Do The Six
In addition to all the features mentioned above, Six Flags has branded an idea they call ‘Do The Six’, shown on signs and blasted audibly through the park regularly. The six to do are: wear your mask, wash your hands, cover your cough, keep your space, sanitize often, and have fun! My wife thought that number six should be ‘have fun and tell your friends’. I like that idea too. But the Do The Six messaging seemed smart to me, and the constant reminders sent a message that the company cared about safety and wanted everyone to stay safe while having a good time.
Some Of These Adaptations Will Last After Covid
The online food order is an obvious candidate of good service that will exist even after the virus risk is long gone. But the sanitation stations, and overall cleaning is also likely to stay as this makes sense, and will protect for less risky airborne and surface-sitting risks as well. Like many things in life today, things adapted to stay safe for the coronavirus will end up being smart business for the long haul.
A Perfect Staycation Option
Other theme parks in the country are starting to open, including Disney
Reposted from: www.forbes.com