To say the least, 2020 has been a massive roller coaster ride. As the economic effects of the pandemic swept across various industries, businesses are struggling to adapt to unique changes and challenges.
Theme parks are no exception. Travel restrictions and social distancing requirements have shut down rides and closed the gates. Even the biggest names in the industry took a massive hit. Disney, in particular, suffered a billion dollars worth of operating income losses as it closed its theme parks worldwide.
But since amusement parks are seasonal by nature, with tourists flocking in only certain times of the year, they are no strangers to closures. The phrase “theme park closed for renovations” has never been more fitting.
Renovating for Better Experiences
Across the US, shelter-in-place measures are being implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19. With families staying home, 2020 may be the perfect time to finally carry out essential repairs, renovations, and expansions.
Park maintenance has always been a key element in making rides and attractions safe. Visitors go in for thrilling rides and while there is a mix of fear and excitement, they know they’re not in danger. But the main attractions aside, it also pays to improve the more subtle elements.
For instance, guests may not pay close attention to the ground, but adding epoxy flooring to concrete walkways can make strolling around much more pleasant. Similarly, good lighting fixtures can help visitors view the beauty of the park in all its glory. In other words, ergonomic additions are vital to seamless experiences.
But beyond function and aesthetics, amusement park owners are also thinking about spending their money where they can gain resiliency when the world slowly reopens. In a post-COVID-19 world, businesses are no doubt expected to incorporate pandemic-responsive measures into their renovation and expansion plans.
Reimagining the Theme Park User Experience
Finding ways to enforce social distancing without taking away good user experience is one of the key areas that theme park owners have to work on. With pandemic safety measures in mind, here’s a look into the future of theme parks:
Signs and sanitizers
Amusement parks are already putting up signage to remind guests to stay six feet apart. Sanitizer stations are also being installed so that guests can clean their hands often. Additionally, parks are adding sneeze guards disguised as quirky domes and colorful bubbles as a way to promote safety without taking away the fun.
Day passes to change into hourly rates
For crowd control, parks could implement charging visitors by the hour instead of selling day-long tickets. The idea is simple: if there is a lot of foot traffic, guests can leave and return at a more convenient time. This way, visitors don’t have to feel the need to try out all rides before the day ends.
Apps for virtual queuing
Pre-COVID-19, theme parks are associated with long queues of children, parents, couples, and friends waiting for their turn to experience the adrenaline rush. Now, by developing virtual queuing apps, guests won’t have to wait in line when they arrive. Instead, they would be assigned a set time for their desired ride or attraction prior to their visit. Equipped with GPS locators, these apps could also intuitively prevent large crowds by prompting visitors to try out a new ride or to move to a less crowded area.
Virtual tour guide
Guided tours have always been part of the amusement park experience. This time, however, parks are aiming to create holographic tour buddies to accompany visitors. The guide would provide information about the sights in the park while making sure its companions are keeping a safe distance from others. Even more fun is the idea that these virtual guides can accompany visitors on daring rides and scream with them.
Facial recognition features
To boost contactless operations, facial recognition would be used in several operational aspects, including ticket issuing and food or merchandise purchases. Guests would have their own profile in their amusement park app, which they could use for easy access to everything in the park.
Parks could use flexible attractions that require guests to explore them one at a time. For years, amusement parks have used permanently installed rides and exhibits that remain static. If parks could move toward novel outdoor experiences for their visitors, the kind that changes every few weeks or months, safety can be better promoted.
Carrying Out the Master Plan
As a rule, theme parks are focused on user experience. That is why they are usually built according to a master plan that evolves with the ebb and flow of the times. Today, the global outbreak of COVID-19 has prompted amusement park owners to build better, safer experiences. Although this year is a particularly long, difficult season for amusement parks everywhere, owners remain confident that this is a wild ride they can handle.