Children’s laughter, screams of joy, light music, fluffy cotton candy, and exciting rides are what people imagine when they talk about an amusement park – a place where good memories are created.
There are more than 20 amusement parks located in California, and 4 in Los Angeles. These parks have attracted tons of tourists and visitors in the past, helping the economy of California. Unfortunately, amusement parks were forced to close during the pandemic.
However, as the cases in California continue to drop, Governor Gavin Newsom revised the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, and other California theme parks to reopen on April 1st.
Despite the eagerness and enthusiasm of visitors, both experts and Caduceus Club members agreed that the date of amusement parks to be reopened should be postponed.
The Caduceus Club is a student-run organization at Pasadena City College, committed to providing educational support and volunteer opportunities for the campus’s pre-medical pre-health community.
Acknowledging the high demand for entertainment, club member Olivia Lopez-Freile suggested pushing the reopen date to after everyone is vaccinated.
“I don’t think it is time for Los Angeles to open,” said Lopez-Freile. “It’s really important to help businesses finally get customers but I think if we wait for just a couple more months while everyone gets vaccinated, we will be able to open up a lot easier, faster, and safer.
Agreeing with Lopez-Freile, another club member Lauren Lee thought the reopening process should be held back until July.
“I think we are not ready to open yet,” said Lee. “It is best to open somewhere in July, when it is more calm and safe. The more people who are vaccinated, the safer Los Angeles is. We still need more time to allow people to get vaccinated.”
Focusing on Disneyland, experts Martin Lewison, a theme park expert at Farmingdale State College in New York, and John Gerner, a theme park expert and managing director of Leisure Business Advisor, shared their perspectives of California reopening with Los Angeles Daily News.
“Virus cases remain stubbornly high in the U.S. and inviting large numbers of people to gather without limits may be inviting disaster, especially if it includes a return to high-capacity indoor attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Star Tours and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” Lewison said, doubting the chance of Disneyland reopening in full capacity.
Though it has reopened, Lewison predicted that Disneyland won’t reopen until July, because its reputation for being a safe place to visit rests on decades of careful management.
“Every decision, large or small, is scrutinized and these are big decisions regarding safety — the number one issue for every theme park and attraction,” Lewison said. “Disneyland is not going to sacrifice safety under any circumstances and that’s one of the many reasons they’re the leader in the global theme park industry.”
Allowing only 25% capacity is the current plan for California amusement parks, and the key factor to start operating at full capacity will be visitor vaccination levels.
“Until there is a clear indicator that ‘herd immunity’ has been achieved the theme parks are likely to be understandably cautious as they ramp up,” Gerner said.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination, but it can also occur through natural infection.
The fear of catching the virus has caused some to decide not to visit.
“I will wait until either later this year or next year to be able to go to amusement parks just because I don’t think they will be able to open up correctly or in a way that I would be able to completely enjoy the experience while feeling safe,” said Lopez-Freile. “The threat of opening Los Angeles too early is having a rise in cases in which we would open everything just to have to close it again which would cause more harm than good.”
Knowing that the amusement parks will be high in demand during summer vacation, Lee plans to enjoy her visit until the crowds are gone.
“I think I will stay away from amusement parks in the first 3 months after reopening, just because I want to be sure that everything is hygienic and safe,” said Lee. “It will be very hectic and crowded if I go there soon after the reopening, especially during summer vacation.”
Reopening the entertainment businesses will serve as a boost to California’s economics, remediating the poverty and unemployment caused by COVID-19. However, according to the Caduceus Club and several experts, the risk of spreading the virus should be taken into account by the amusement park companies to determine the best way to open safely and consider the health of visitors.
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