The notes on this post are 100% my personal opinion. I am writing this based on what I am seeing so far in the amusements parks industry and the reaction of fans on social media.
The tourism industry has been one of the most affected by the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. Hotels, airlines and theme parks have seen an immense impact on revenue due to closings, cancellations and travel restrictions, especially during one of the most profitable seasons of the year like it is Spring Break. Now with states slowly reopening all eyes are on the big theme parks, especially in Florida, to see what their re-opening strategy will look like.
Universal Orlando Resort announced last Friday that they will open to the public beginning June 5th. Their opening strategy includes limited capacity on all three of their Orlando theme parks, requirements for all guests and team members to wear face coverings, temperature checks, and staggered parking within the parking garage, among other guidelines.
We are still waiting to hear from Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Parks what their plans are, but we can only assume they will be very similar to Universal Orlando and Six Flags. Regardless of how the actual strategy will look like for each of the parks, one thing that has been clear is the importance of technology, not only for these times, but moving forward.
Based on the reactions from Twitter users after Six Flags announced their new safety measures it became clear that guests want contactless bag checks, ticket scanning and food ordering, and a reservations system where they can choose the specific date they will visit the parks. We will have to wait until parks open to know exactly how the temperature for each guest will be taken, but having thermal imaging seems like a better option than having people standing in line for another person to take their temperatures.
I can only imagine that moving forward every other sector in the tourism industry will begin implementing similar strategies: online check-in and check-out at hotels, contactless car rental pickup and drop off, etc. As with everything else in the 21st century, the good use of technology is what will help the tourism industry recover from this crisis. As an avid theme park visitor, I personally will feel safer going to a theme park with all of these measures in place; not just during COVID-19, but moving forward. This is what our new world will look like – our new normal.