Disneyland reopening: How COVID-era theme parks cut crowding

EMMA ISABELLA


Heading to 6 Flags Magic Mountain for some intestine-twisting roller coasters? Prepare to wander earlier a thermal camera that routinely requires your temperature.

Want to take pleasure in a Dole Whip at Disneyland? Have your smartphone prepared to purchase it on the park’s app.

Attempting to uncover your way to the Studio Tour ride at Universal Studios Hollywood? Open a map on your cellphone.

Theme parks have for several years been relying on know-how to far better control crowds, speed up the order of foods and drinks, and do away with gridlock all over the most preferred rides. Digital tickets have factored into that. So has the observe of tracking guests’ destinations within a park through a cell phone application.

Now, immediately after a yearlong closure owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern California’s topic parks are reopening with new basic safety protocols — quite a few of which lean greatly on these kinds of technological innovation. Which is assisting the parks decrease the hazard of spreading the coronavirus and, at the similar time, accumulate far more information about their people.

At concept parks, the most important risk of spreading the virus is also the most significant headache: long waits in packed crowds. Engineering this kind of as touchless payment devices to buy food items and apps to routine periods to experience points of interest or make eating reservations is meant to reduce both of those.

“In the previous several months, our tech groups have accelerated our shift to digital in a huge way,” Disneyland spokesperson Liz Jaeger stated.

Industry gurus say the pattern is world wide, with topic parks in Asia and Europe also pushing the elevated use of technology. China’s Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park reopened final year accepting only cashless payments. Legoland in Carlsbad reopened April 1, also accepting only cashless payments.

“COVID forced this due to the fact folks have been away from each and every other and are now back,” said Dennis Speigel, president of Global Topic Park Solutions. “But now we are likely to see far more and extra of it.”

Consumers of Common Studios Hollywood’s smartphone application can opt out of having their locale information and facts tracked.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Moments)

Privacy advocates say the pattern also presents topic parks bigger prospect to use the visitors’ information to upsell them on goods, food and drinks, between other purchases. They also fret that the particular and money details collected from parkgoers can be leaked or shared in unexpected means.

“While theme parks could be pushing smartphone buys as a variety of ease or even as a wellness evaluate, we need to be extremely knowledgeable of the simple fact that this is also a massive prospect for them to make a grab at our info, employing it for everything from advertising and marketing to enforcement of park procedures,” said Evan Greer, director of the digital rights team Fight for the Future.

A lot of concept park apps’ privacy insurance policies acknowledge that the parks may perhaps use details gathered by the applications for internet marketing uses. But park officers say the applications give people the possibility to block entry to some information and facts, these as their area within just the park.

“We take privateness very critically to guarantee that our friends and their personal facts are securely guarded,” Common Studios Hollywood spokesperson Audrey Eig stated.

Concept parks prefer touchless acquiring units this sort of as Apple Fork out since parkgoers are likely to expend far more that way than they do when they have to access into a wallet or a purse to pull out dollars or a credit rating card, Speigel reported.

An market examine identified that at water parks and arcades, expending jumped 30% to 40% when touchless methods changed regular procedures of shelling out.

“It’s really a person of the ideal factors in the market to appear out of the COVID” pandemic, Speigel said.

California theme parks have been specified authorization by the condition to reopen starting April 1, many thanks to a lower in new coronavirus conditions and the rollout of vaccines. But point out well being officers have imposed a slew of overall health protocols, together with limiting attendance, necessitating 6 ft of separation in queues and mandating that readers use masks apart from when having.

A bigger use of smartphone applications and other technological know-how can assist the parks meet the state health protocols, especially the need that people sustain bodily length from 1 a different, theme park officials say.

At Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, site visitors strolling from the parking large amount to the front gate move through a small creating exactly where thermal cameras just take their temperatures without producing them crack their stride. The site visitors then stroll past a digital scanning machine that checks them for hidden weapons, eradicating the have to have to stop for a safety research.

“The greatest matter is it is not holding up the line,” park spokesperson Jerry Certonio said.

At Disneyland and Disney California Journey Park, each individual restaurant and shop presents touchless payment alternatives to get rid of the have to have to trade income and credit score cards with a Disney employee. Quite a few of the restaurants also enable people to purchase food stuff from the Disneyland app, doing away with the need to stand in a queue or a group whilst waiting for the food items.

At the Disneyland Vacation resort, guests who want to enter a store that has previously arrived at ability can give their title and phone number to a Disney employee who will send them a text message when they can return.

6 Flags Magic Mountain has amplified the use of touchless payment solutions to six eateries in the last couple months, up from a few, with plans to increase far more in the foreseeable future.

Universal Studios Hollywood visitors use a virtual-line kiosk.

Brent Rode and Holly Lee use a kiosk to get a area in the digital line for The Secret Lifetime of Animals: Off the Leash experience at Universal Studios Hollywood.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Periods)

At Universal Studios Hollywood, site visitors can still get a paper map at the gate but are inspired to use their smartphone digicam to scan a QR code emblazoned on signs through the park. The code will cause a map of the park to display on the cellphone when the visitor downloads the park’s application. That really should cut down on aimless intermixing with other visitors in the park. QR codes are also applied at the Disneyland Resort to open up digital menus at dining places.

Website visitors to the parks look to like the adjustments.

Common Studios Hollywood reopened Thursday with its 1st virtual line for its most recent attraction, The Magic formula Lifetime of Animals: Off the Leash. Parkgoers can use their smartphone app or a kiosk in the vicinity of the experience to agenda a time to ride the attraction. When the scheduled time arrives, the visitor can present a paper ticket or a QR code on their cell phone and jump on the experience.

“I imagine it would make best feeling,” said Holly Lee, an Orange County resident who frequented the park Thursday. “It implies you never have men and women crowding close to in entrance of the journey.”





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