Harry Potter is back in business. Central Florida theme parks including Disney and Universal closed temporarily due to Covid-19 in March. But between June and July, they opened back up with new safety guidelines intended to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. With masks covering their mouths and noses, thousands of park guests have been visiting the attractions while maintaining a six-foot distance from others park-goers for the foreseeable future.
“I feel like the theme park experience is much safer with these precautions although they may hinder the fun of certain aspects,” junior Samantha Miller said.
All parks have designated areas where guests may remove their masks while remaining socially distant from others. But the new rules may make the visits less enjoyable for some.
“The only part of the theme-park experience that is less exciting is the heat factor with the mask,” junior Hadley Balser said. “It is so hot out that they are very sweaty and stifling.”
And not everyone follows the rules. On a trip to Disney, Miller witnessed what happens when guests refused to comply.
“There was an angry park guest not wearing his mask raising his voice at and insulting a cast member at the entrance of guest services about how he didn’t want to wear a mask,” Miller said. “The cast members told him they would have to escort him out of the park if he didn’t leave or put on a mask.”
Even so, team members are not always successful in enforcing the new rules based on CDC guidelines.
“There was a moment when I felt unsafe at Volcano Bay when I looked at the wait time for a water ride then quickly walked away because there were people standing there in clusters because they were deciding what to do,” freshman Brennan Balser said.
Sophomore Deklyn Gardner said the parks have re-opened too early.
“I personally think the theme parks should be closed,” he said. “If people could have just stayed home for those couple of weeks in the beginning, the virus wouldn’t be a problem.”
Even though many theme parks are open, events such as “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween” and “Halloween Horror Nights” have officially been canceled after months of uncertainty. Some students are upset that the 30th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights has been postponed to 2021.
“[My dad and I] would go to Halloween Horror Nights every year for my birthday and we would always have so much fun,” freshman Olivia Mollica said. “It makes me upset that we have to miss out on that.”
While “Halloween Horror Nights” has been canceled, the tribute store remains open and includes four rooms decorated with Frankenstein’s lab, Horror Nights Icons, A Spooky Bakery and “Beetlejuice” set pieces. The tribute store includes horror merchandise each year and this time, “Halloween Horror Nights” masks.
“I thought that it was beautifully decorated and transported me to a different place,” Balser said.
Despite vast changes to theme parks and the events that they host, fans still plan to enjoy rides and shows despite the CDC guidelines that they must follow.
“I feel like the theme parks should stay open because as long as these new rules are kept in place and people continue to wear face masks correctly,” Brennan Balser said. “We should enjoy the freedom when we can.”