Parks reopening - User experiences with new restrictions

Thursday, July 2, 2020 5:30 PM

Now that some parks are reopening, I thought I would open a topic where users post their experiences with the new restrictions. Reservations, social distancing, face masks, temperature checks, touchless security, etc. in place. What did they do wrong? What did they do right?

My home park is Six Flags America in MD. My park philosophy is I NEVER go during the summer months. Any park. Once Memorial Day hits, the temperature soars as do the crowds. It is miserable. I take advantage of the awesome spring and autumn months. Crowds are light and the temperatures are nice.

However, once Six Flags announced you could make reservations this weekend, I thought I would give it a shot. Once again, any normal year, I would NEVER set foot into a park on the 4th of July weekend, that is insane! However, since they are limiting the crowds, I must see what's up. So, I am heading there tomorrow. Now I would be lying if I am not dreading this trip. The temperature is supposed to reach over 100 HUMID degrees AND I must wear a mask (which I don't like to do.) It’s a crappy park, but I am going into roller coaster withdrawals and need to ride something!

Friday, July 3, 2020 12:22 AM

Went to King's Island today 7/2. At opening it took us 90 minutes to get aboard Orion with a full "socially distanced" queue starting at the begining of the queue railings at the National Anthem. They were loading every row but only two people in each; two inside row one, two outside row 2, etc. Apparently, single riders were not allowed to ride together, so often there would be one person per row, meaning often there were trains that were less than half full. It appearead they were stopping the ride and disinfecting the trains at regular intervals as well... I don't know what that interval was. The line moved agonizingly slow. In the heat with the mask it was not a very pleasant experiance.

Queued for Diamondback, but it was even slower so we bailed. After a break at Starbucks in the A/C we did Mystic Timbers after an hour queue at a snail's pace. That was all we could take.

Personally, we won't be visiting any other parks until they're back to full capacity. I think they are doing the best they can, but it's not worth the time and effort for us.

Last edited by Chaindog, Friday, July 3, 2020 12:24 AM

To being an "us" for once - instead of a "them".

Friday, July 3, 2020 12:09 PM

If they kept all other protocols but allowed trains to load at capacity, how much extra risk would that honestly be?

Friday, July 3, 2020 12:36 PM

Really great question. If riders are all wearing masks in theory the risk wouldn't significantly increase. Although enforcement of mask wearing during the ride would be extremely difficult. Presumably amusement parks are closing off every other row, or half the seats in this case, to maintain social distancing. I have to imagine that it's not just to prevent the spread of the disease but also prevent litigation should a customer contract the disease while at the park.

Friday, July 3, 2020 1:27 PM

I agree. It definitely is a sanitation theater tactic.

Friday, July 3, 2020 1:36 PM

We bought season passes for the mid-size, city owned waterpark near our house (NRH2O, Dallas area) for about $50 each with our resident discount. They're good through the 2021 season and came with all manner of extra perks: meal vouchers, early entry, discounts, buddy passes, etc.

My wife has taken our daughter on a few weekdays and we went early on 2 Sundays. We had the place to ourselves on the first one, but it shut down for storms about 45 minutes after regular opening. The second was last weekend and, while it was a slow start with some clouds and showers, it cleared up and was a steady crowd in the afternoon. People seem to be social distancing well in the few lines there are and I didn't feel like anyone was ever in my personal space in general. A county wide mask order went into effect last Friday, but the park was only requiring masks while walking into and out of the park, going to a food location, or in the gift shop. All of the employees were in masks. Lots of cleaning of tables, chairs, and tubes going on.

My wife and I have been pretty middle of the road since March: we stay in unless we feel it's necessary, but we haven't been scared to go out and shop or go the waterpark in recent weeks.

My wife and kid went to the park on Tuesday and said it was their busiest day yet. Everything appeared to be humming along like normal despite the rapid rise in cases in Texas and the Dallas area. They saw several groups of new employees being trained. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes after the park closed that day, they announced on social media that the city had made the decision to close the park for the season. I'm sure safety was a factor, but I had questioned all along if they were covering the cost of their operations with fewer guests and what appeared to be more employees.

Friday, July 3, 2020 3:27 PM

I headed to Six Flags America for the first time this year. I had my season pass plus my reservation voucher for 10:45 am. I arrived right on time and when I got there, I was a little surprised to see the line of cars was all the way out to the road where you turn into the entrance. That is NEVER a good sign in a normal year because that means the park is PACKED. It took me about 10 minutes to get to the parking attendant, and it turned out that the reason the line was so long, was because I would say 50% of the cars DID NOT have reservations and were being turned away. The car in front of me argued with the attendant for 5-minutes and a manager had to be called over. “What do you mean I can’t come in? I am a Platinum member!” Sorry sir, you MUST make a reservation to get in this year. He was not a happy camper. If you have your voucher, the parking attendant scans it and 5 seconds later you are let in. A lot of cars were holding up the line because they did not follow directions. Also, if you don’t have free parking, you must buy your parking online as you can’t do it at the gate any longer.

Once in, I parked and walked to the gate. Now this was great. There was no line at all. I went into this tent where they scanned your temperature, then let you walk through the metal detectors with no scanning or looking through your bags. That was the most seamless entry I have ever been a part of. Six Flags gets an A for that process.

Once inside I could not believe how DEAD it was. I have been going to this park for 20 years and no kidding, this was the least crowded day I have ever seen. I have seen bigger crowds on a cold Sunday in November. For example, I rode the Superman rollercoaster 3 times in a row on the front seat, and I was the ONLY person on the train! After the ride was over, I stayed in my seat and asked the attendant to send me around again. I am not sure if it was the pandemic, reservations or the fact that it was blazing hot out that nobody was there. I’m not sure if other parks in the area (Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens, Hershey Park etc.) are experiencing what I saw today, but if so, I might be making reservations and heading out to them this summer.

Of course, there were a handful or rides not in service, but that is par for Six Flags. The few rides where I did have to stand in line, people were six feet apart and I didn’t feel like I was getting to close to anyone.

Each ride was loading every other row and single riders rode alone. The Firebird rollercoaster had seven rows, so four were out of service. That ride has four riders per row, so when single rider got on that meant three empty seats in that row. So that ride was always riding at 40%.

I even stopped by the waterpark to see what was going on. On a day like today, 4th of July weekend and 95-degrees outside, the water park would be so packed that you could not find a seat or wade into the wave pool without physically touching somebody. Six Flags is doing a good job with the reservations as there were plenty of seats and everyone in the pool looked socially distanced to me.

Oh yeah, I also got smacked in the face by a small bird while on Superman. I was probably going 60 MPH, however only ended up with a small cut on my lip. I survived Covid-19, but will probably die of some sort of bird flu now :(

Last edited by DoubleMeatTaco, Saturday, July 4, 2020 6:21 PM
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 11:40 AM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

DoubleMeatTaco = Fabio... (Google 'fabio bird in face' if you don't get the reference)

I did Cedar Point yesterday for 'friends & family' day. I'll do a walk through on different parts of the day.

Entering the Park:

Arrive at your designated time. You MUST wear a mask. If you do not have a mask, you can purchase them before going through the health screening (they were $2 when we were there, that could vary). There are two tents setup near the season pass center. The queue leading up to it is marked out with tape to help people social distance. Get used to those sights... they are everywhere in the park.

The queue divides up into the two tents. The day we were there they split us up in to groups of 3 maximum and had two lines for each tent with four lines total. One by one, you walk in slowly through the tent and go into a yellow taped box and stand on the yellow line. I think this is a thermal camera. After that, a park employee will use the temperature gun and take your temperature and clear you to go through.

I should note that everyone in this area of the park are equipped with a microphone and a speaker. This was incredibly helpful to follow instructions despite all the employees wearing a mask.

From there, you'll go through metal detectors and go through the main gate. Again, tape is marked out every 6 or so feet to help maintain social distancing.

Riding a ride

The queues are socially distanced. Checking height is going to be a little tedious because the park employee cannot touch the child's head. They were eyeballing my youngest but he was already tall enough to ride. Throughout the queue, an employee is walking along the queues and spraying and wiping with sanitizer. Not sure how often, but I never saw a queue without somebody sanitizing.

The stations are socially distanced. Keep in mind that some of the rows were close to a ride operator that would clear a train for dispatch. With that in mind, some of the lines will have a tape mark well before the gate, to keep you distant from the ride operator. Trains are sprayed down and cycled empty every 30 minutes, they are not sanitized in between riders, but hand sanitizer is available everywhere around the park and queue.

When a train parks to let out riders from the previous cycle, harnesses are released in sections (when they can) and each row is let out one at a time. Once they exit the station, the next row is allowed to leave. The B&M coasters with 4 to a row loaded each row, but is alternated between the center two seats and the outer two seats. Valravn loaded all three rows, but in each row had the first three seats open, then three not available, then the last two open. All other coaster trains with two to a row alternated rows. You MUST wear a mask while riding.

STEEL VENGEANCE DOES NOT HAVE ZIPPER POCKETS, YOU MUST USE A LOCKER. A metal detector at the start of the queue enforces this rule.

Restrooms and drinking fountains

Not all restrooms are open, and not all drinking fountains are turned on. From what I saw the following restrooms were closed:

- Frontier near first aid & arcade
- Main midway train station (but the drinking fountain was on)
- Near Gemini
- Each side of Grand Ballroom

There may have been more closings, but I wasn't paying too close of attention. At the restrooms that were open, there are employees for each designated gender there to help enforce social distancing before going into the restroom. Many of the drinking fountains are turned off, be aware of that, for example, Raptor's restroom was open, but only on one side. The other side that was closed had the drinking fountain, but was turned off.

Getting food and drink

All socially distanced. Having the newer food places (French Confections, The Corral, and Backbeat BBQ) built was very fortuitous in my opinion because you can wait in air conditioning and the lines are neatly spaced apart. The tables are all outside and again are spaced apart to ensure social distancing. These places are also where mask wearing is not strictly enforced.

Mask relax zones

Some of the old smoking areas were converted to Mask Relax Zones. The two I saw are located near Power Tower and next to the Barn Yard on Frontier trail. There are two other ones as well. A map of that was made available. Each mask relax zone has a one way entrance and a one way exit.

Some odds and ends I noticed

While Forbidden Frontier will not be opening this year, a massive bridge was built parallel to the old Shoot the Rapids access bridge to allow for the future Snake River Expedition.

The Legacy Walk was very well done. I was super excited to find our brick as well as spotted many friends and family bricks. At that time, there wasn't anyone to help locate, it ended up just being myself and my sons trying to find our brick. There is plenty of room for expansion and future brick purchases. I'll admit that some of the messages left were a little emotional and heartfelt that even I got a little sad to see. There were a handful of May 2020 weddings that were proclaimed on some of these bricks that I would assume haven't happened because of how much had changed. And then the in memory of bricks were pretty somber to spot. Such a cool way to memorialize loved ones, it really is.

I would say that attending the park this year is going to be more for those who absolutely want to experience the park and are okay with the additional restrictions/policies that's going to promote social distancing and overall health safety. If you are going to have problems with ride operations or mask wearing, it might be a good idea to make different plans. Just my take on it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:27 PM

Did you notice any drinking fountains that were obviously on? I normally use them to constantly fill my water bottle.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:47 PM

I could go into great detail about my day-long visit to Kings Island yesterday, but previous posts pretty well sum up my experience.
But just a few things-
I was surprised to see how few people were in attendance. I had seen shots from opening weekend where the line to enter the park stretched across the parking lot so I was concerned about my 11:00 time slot. Not to worry though. Out of curiosity I checked availability the night before and just about every time slot was wide open, including the earliest ones. The park is still in Season Pass mode, but they have such a high percentage of passholders as guests I’m surprised it wasn’t busier. It was awfully hot. I’ll be interested to see what happens after it’s wide open.
In spite of low crowds, and efficient ride ops, things were still pretty slow due to distancing and lowered capacity. KI is one of the parks I’ve been to most often in my life, and I’ve attended since opening day 1972, so I didn’t really care about anything except my first trip on Orion. And even with my early entry my time slot was 2-3pm. It caused me to be at the park a lot longer than intended. I wound up taking in a lot of flats and attractions with little to no lines and that was fun enough for me.
Masks: everyone had one and everyone was compliant. I did see a park manager approach a couple of guys who had theirs under their chins, but they were sipping an Icey, so I’m not sure what they were supposed to do. Anyway, I’m a faithful mask wearer in public but this was my first experience in an all-day situation, and in all honesty I got along just fine. In spite of the heat. My advice to those that feel the need to complain or test the parks’ seriousness about the matter should stay home. It wasn’t that hard of a thing to do. And the Relax Areas are a good idea. It was even possible to distance there.

Which brings me to another thought, not related to our CF parks, but to poor Knoebels. After months of people, (I’ll assume mostly locals), raising holy hell that the park was closed they were finally approved by the state of Pennsylvania to open. First came the campgrounds, some food trucks in the parking lot, and then the opening of the rides with a strong suggestion from the park about masks. After the first weekend it became clear that nobody was complying with the suggestion so the park switched to a hard and fast rule. Knoebels isn’t even a gated park, but if you’re caught then out you go.
So yesterday on FB there was a post from one of the Knoebels men with a caption that said “heartbreaking”. The post was filled with photos of the park with empty midways, vacant lots, and rides with one or two riders- virtually no one in attendance.
Then came the comments, and I haven’t read such undeserving words about a nice place in a long time. “Cut the mask crap and you’ll be busy”. “If it weren’t for your f’d-up rules we’d go”. I paraphrase, but stuff like that. A few people stepped in to quite sensibly defend the park’s rules- words like “let’s follow along and enjoy the park we love and have missed”. Or “do we want to see them shut down again?” But not many, and they were met with abuse.
I’ve always wondered about the people there in mid-eastern Pa. and how smart they were, and this may be proof. ‘Merica at its finest.
Anyway, this may be a good time to take that summer camping trip to Knoebels. Seems safe, they could use the support, and you’re likely to not run into a soul.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:47 PM

Cedar Fair seems to be doing an outstanding job given the circumstances. As are Universal, Disney, and heck, even Six Flags. Meanwhile, SeaWorld and Busch continue to fail at this, and some of the independent operators don't seem to have a grasp on it either.

edit: I was so happy to see Knoebels do what they did after the first day or two became kind of a cluster with the lack of masks. Sadly I'm not surprised given that part of PA and the typical Knoebels visitor. Which just reinforces the fact that this has become so politicized, which circles back to the problem.

Last edited by BrettV, Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:50 PM
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:56 PM

Whoopsie! There’s Kentucky Kingdom! Whaddaya know?
We’ve had a few here in central Ohio, but that’s quite a list they’ve got going there.
And I’ve said this elsewhere but I guess the worst example is Indiana Beach. No masks or social distancing whatsoever. And this is at a park that people cried about with an owner trying to make the best of it with a rescue plan. Yeah, good luck.
Seriously, I sadly wonder about people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 1:33 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Paisley said:

Did you notice any drinking fountains that were obviously on? I normally use them to constantly fill my water bottle.

Paisley, it was pretty much a lottery. With the food/drink stands that were open, we were able to stay hydrated with the iced water cups they were providing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 1:48 PM

I believe that drinking fountains are pretty high on the "no" list in most areas.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 1:50 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

RCMAC said:

I’ve always wondered about the people there in mid-eastern Pa. and how smart they were, and this may be proof. ‘Merica at its finest.

I have a different take on this...

It takes very few rule breakers to ruin it for others. People as a group tend to be herdish. When they see a few doing something (right or wrong) they tend start following as the norm.

My opinion is that we are seeing a generation (maybe even two) of a select few people that transcend race, age, religion, etc. that weren't taught to respect the 'house rules.' That despite an opinion on something, the house rules simply do not apply to that person and they will act whatever they see fit. Others see it and either try to call it out, or follow. It seems like within the CBuzz community, we are pretty good at enforcing the house rules and the ones that don't comply usually see their way out.

I will tell you that I'm very much against wearing a mask. I think its absolutely ridiculous, especially on a ride. From that statement, I would imagine that someone who read my post could make some assumptions about me. That's the most disappointing part of nearly 25 years of most of our interactions with others being behind a screen instead of face to face. We make up our opinions of people without truly knowing them. I try my best not to do that. If I see that I'm conversing with someone unwilling to have a two sided conversation I end up no longer engaging.

Anyways, after attending Cedar Point yesterday in the brutal heat I still wore the damn mask. I didn't like it, but I'm going to respect the parks' rules. If this is what it takes for me to ride some of my favorite coasters, out of respect for the park I'm going to follow their rules. I think most of us are able to separate the two; their opinion of something, and the actual actions that should be taken. Unfortunately, it's extremely easy to paint a broad stroke of opinion and I think that is what we are seeing as a result of our differences that we are unable to reconcile.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 1:50 PM

I have the CF drink plan. In some locations the staff did the serving. In others they had a sign posted that reusable drink cups or anything plastic had to be filled by the attendant. The only thing a customer could fill themselves was a clean, never used paper cup.
Water fountains were covered, but paper cups with water were available at no charge.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 2:16 PM

And Rob- I get it. Honestly I do. I don’t like masks either. I would much rather spend my summer, and especially my amusement rides, unencumbered by masks, restrictions, and distancing. I’d like to visit my favorite soup n salad bar or Sunday brunch. I’d also like to walk around buck naked but as a courtesy to others...

And that’s just it. What I don’t get about people is the crying, handwringing, and downright threats to businesses about remaining closed and then refusing to follow not only house rules but state/local rules designed to accommodate customers as well as business owners. How the Knoebels are being treated by their neighbors is disgraceful. Folks like that need to just not go and quit griping about it.
I so often hear “I’m not going to allow fear to rule and run my life”. And I want to say “why not?” Walking around on the face of the earth is not supposed to be, especially in this day and age, a daredevil activity. There’s a situation right now, proven to be deadly, and if a few simple practices can damper some of that I think we should be all for it. All of us, all the time. To me it’s no different than wearing seat belts, putting shoes on your feet, or watching where you walk at night.
In referencing the way people act in certain rural-ish areas, I wasn’t coming after you at all, and I want you to know that. You make a point about on-line treatment and reactions and it’s valid. I’ve seen and experienced changes in relationships due to revelations about friends or family members made on line. This particular time of health crisis, racial unrest, and political strife is especially vulnerable to that.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 6:24 PM

HeyIsntThatRob? said:

DoubleMeatTaco = Fabio... (Google 'fabio bird in face' if you don't get the reference)

Heck yeah I remember that. That poor man got hit in the face with a GOOSE! I was much luckier. I think this was one of those small 1"-2" birds you see around the park (like the size of a small bat.)

I know it's a No-No to record rides with cell phones, but when I got to the ride and it was only me and three operators, I said "I have to record this, this has never happened to me before on this ride." I felt like Richie RIch with my own Amusement park! So I took this picture on the way up. Five seconds later I got nailed in the face by something. That was the strangest ride I have ever been on. I don't even have anyone who can confirm it, but it happened. I got off the ride and asked the operators if my nose was bleeding (Thinking of Fabio the entire time.) They said "No, but it's red and there is a small cut." Whew

Last edited by DoubleMeatTaco, Wednesday, July 8, 2020 6:25 PM
Thursday, July 9, 2020 12:16 PM

I went to Six Flags over Georgia this past Monday. The new touchless security and health screening was excellent, and did not delay entry into the park at all. Once in the park I'd say 2/3rds of the guests were following proper mask protocol, with the last third being questionable mask users (sitting on the chin, or covering the mouth, not the nose, etc.). Park employees that were moving around the park between posts (or perhaps performing janitorial duties) were often not wearing masks properly. I did not see any park employees enforcing mask protocols, but it was also empty enough that I wasn't too bothered by it, and it was easy to stay clear of other groups. Employees operating the rides and food service always had masks and eyewear, which is where it counts.

Each ride had a bottle of hand sanitizer at the exit, but the majority were empty. They had placed these every couple hundred feet on the pathways, so if you were willing to wander around a bit you could eventually find another one that was operating. I do wonder if anyone checks these, and how long one would have to sit empty for it to be refilled. What if these pathway sanitzers eventually go empty?

The Six Flags mobile food ordering did not go well. The app was stuck at one point on "preparing food" for 15 minutes. I decided to ask an employee at the diner about it. She called out to the cook in back and he seemed to peer off to his left and yell out, "oh yea, coming right up", as if the order had been sitting on a screen that nobody bothered to check.

It was in the mid 80s and very humid the whole time I was there. I'm in support of the mask wearing requirement, and usually happy to comply, but after about 5 hours in the park (during the hottest part of the day) it was starting to get to me. The mask free zones were plentiful, and appreciated.

Overall I felt reasonably safe there, and had a good time. My regular home park (SFMM) won't be opening any time soon and I was really happy to get on some roller coasters. If the park is ever near their COVID-limited capacity I would hope they refill the hand sanitzer more often and enforce mask rules better.

Friday, July 10, 2020 9:57 AM

I have to agree with Rob, I hate masks as well. But will wear one where required. So, I'm kinda glad I am unable to visit parks at the moment.

For me, it's more of a psychological thing. I hate having my mouth covered. I feel like I need to be breathing in fresh air. Even wearing one for a few minutes during couple of doctor visits last month, I started to bug out. I would pull mask down for minute, take a couple breaths and then cover back up. Cool thing was they let me take it off once I was in room away from others. My wife works there so if I had something, she would too and then she is around them all day.

I am glad many others are ok with wearing them at a park. For me, it's not worth the hassle to get a few rides. Going to parks and hanging out with friends is supposed to be fun and I don't see how wearing a mask fits into that equation. Again, if I were to go, I would follow the rules and wear one. I haven't been to CP in 5 years and doubt I will be going back anytime soon. So I won't worry about it.

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries


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