Deanna Wright

With students having precautions set by the school to keep everyone on campus safe, many students have been cautious whether or not to go back to Florida’s theme parks. 

SeaWorld and Universal Studios reopened all of their parks and waterparks back in the beginning of June, and Walt Disney World reopened their four parks in July after the closing of all Florida theme parks back in May. 

“At first I was very hesitant,” junior Elisa White said.  “I waited a month to go back because I didn’t want to be in the first wave of guests. With wearing masks and the strict enforcement of the rules, I do feel like you can go and keep your exposure to a minimum now.”

Before reopening, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World all announced their final proposal plans for reopening with precautions due to COVID-19 in May. These proposals had to be approved by the counties and Governor Ron DeSantis. 

These proposal plans stated that all staff and guests will have to wear masks the whole time, go through temperature checks before entering the parks and place hand sanitizer stations throughout the parks. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed entry into the parks stated on All Ears website. 

The parks also implemented ground markers to make sure parties stay six feet apart from each other while in lines and signage throughout the parks with the CDC guidelines and added rest areas for guests to sit socially distanced so that they could have a break from wearing their masks. 

Guests wanting to return to any of the Florida theme parks would have to make reservations in advance to make sure they could go when they want, the parks would have limited amounts of reservations each day to make sure the parks could still have guests socially distant. To keep their team members safe, the parks made an executive decision to modify character meet and greets. 

Universal was spacing tables at restaurants on the City Walk and had team members out entertaining and telling guest instructions for the parks before they entered. They did place mask rest stations throughout the two parks.

“Universal was very strict on their mask order and team members were around reminding individuals to put their mask back on. Guests followed team members’ requests with no issues,” junior Helen Stedt said. 

The efforts the parks were taking with all the precautions made Stedt feel safer than going to the grocery store. 

SeaWorld modified their characters meet and greets. Instead of guests being able to take pictures with their favorite characters, there are parades throughout the day with some characters so guests still get a chance to see them. These parades are not at specific times during the day to make sure there is still social distancing.

 “Most guests were wearing masks at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, but some guests wore their mask under their noses even when told to put them back on,” senior Noah Valletutti said. “I was really glad that they reduced their capacities and required reservations to visit though.” 

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have improved their safety precautions since their reopenings in June. The two parks have more ground markers for social distancing, having less tables in restaurants, and more people are following the rules and wearing a mask correctly. 

The Walt Disney Company made the executive decision to space out their full reopening to make sure the parks were socially distant for guests even with modifying the amount of guests they allow in with reservations each day. 

Disney just like SeaWorld uses pop up parades (character cavalcades) for guests to see their favorite characters. They don’t post the times of these cavalcades on the park app or throughout the park to make sure guests don’t crowd areas.

“It’s nice that they’re finding a way to keep their entertainment cast members employed and huge crowds don’t gather for them either,” White said. “If I was a little kid I probably would have loved it.” 

All of the health and safety precautions for the theme parks in Florida are posted on their websites and they all make the statement about how visiting the parks still can put you at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

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