It's been a roller coaster year for amusement parks across the country, with crowds or long lines this year because of COVID-19. Most theme parks that were able to reopen did so with guests' safety in mind.
"This fall is a unique time for us as families are dealing with coming out of the pandemic and what can they do, and certainly it's not over. Everybody is still very concerned about health and safety and looking to the attractions industry is a great place," said Susan Storey, the Global Communications Director for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).
Storey says most theme parks across the country are mandating masks and not allowing as many people into the parks.
"They’re very good at managing how many people can be in a line, to how many people would be in a restaurant," Storey said. "We’re experts at moving people around and being able to provide a safe, healthy, fun experience."
Storey says most theme parks are outside on large properties, giving people the ability to spread out.
"Technology has come into play, too. You can buy your tickets online and show them with your phone. You can do mobile ordering with food, so you’re not standing in line. You can just order, go and pick it up," Storey said. "So, there’s a lot of things that the industry has immediately implemented and added to take their already safe and fun environment."
Six Flags over Georgia has fully decorated for Halloween, hoping to encourage families to visit "HalloFest" this fall.
"Right now, we have reduced capacity, so we are operating at a far lower level at the park than you’d typically see, and that’s so we can ensure social distancing," said Divina Mims, the Communications Manager at Six Flags over Georgia and Whitewater.
Six Flags is also conducting daily temperature checks on employees and guests and conducting contactless bag checks. Every other row on a ride is empty, allowing for social distancing even on roller coasters.
Hershey Park in Pennsylvania is limiting capacity through an online reservation system.
"We've also added 300 hand sanitizers, and we have a variety of guest ambassadors in positions to help our guests with all those safety enhancements," said Quinn Bryner, Director of Public Relations for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourages large gatherings where maintaining six feet of distance isn't possible, as that puts people at the highest risk for contracting COVID-19.
According to the CDC's website, "The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading."
However, Storey says, parks are doing everything they can to keep customers safe.
"We provide a lot of jobs, and we do a lot for our communities," Storey said. "We provide respite, we provide fun and help create great memories for our guests and visitors, and that's what’s critical in all that we do."
Anyone planning a trip an amusement park should check the park's website prior to visiting to ensure that social distancing is possible.