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Splish-Splash Many Water Parks are Back: Waterparks Across the Nation Reopen with COVID-19 Safety Precautions

Morey's Park in New Jersey officially reopened on July 2
The park is limited to 50% capacity and has a strict safety policy in place for its guests and employees.

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Waterparks are one way to stay cool this summer, despite COVID-19. The CDC has issued guidelines for waterparks, from handwashing to social distancing. Masks are not as prevalent, and definitely not used in the water, as they can be difficult to breathe through when wet.

Boulder Beach in Athol, Idaho has been open daily since June 6th. While attendance capacity is limited, masks are not required anywhere in the park. Instead, along with limiting ticket sales, the park has been relying on hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the park, cleaning rides frequently between groups of riders, and providing bright yellow, cash-loaded wristbands to discourage cash purchases for food and merchandise. On the ground: yellow Big Foot feet six-feet apart indicate social distancing guidelines in queues. The park's website notes “We have changed the configuration of our queue lines to allow for social distancing between families. As our overall queue capacity will be reduced, lines for our attractions may appear to be longer than normal.”

Big Foot markings were used to mark for proper social distancing in queue lines

Roaring Springs Waterpark, also in Idaho, is open day and night on weekends, and daytime during the week. The park is using temperature checks for all guests and employees, social distancing in queue lines and throughout the park, and is limiting guest numbers to 50% of capacity in the Wave Pool, Leisure Lagoon, Endless River, and Bearfoot Bay attractions. There are also hand sanitizing stations throughout the parks. Employees, except for lifeguards, are required to wear face masks; guests are “recommended” to do so, but not in the water. Plexiglass shields are also in place between guests and staff members in many locations.

At Typhoon Texas waterpark near Austin, reservations are required for ticketed admission to help limit capacity. Along with attendance limitations, the park is assisting with social distancing by removing cabanas and loungers for more space between seated guests; cabana reservations are also offered online. Restrooms are closed for cleaning hourly; additional cleaning measures are also in place for loungers, cabanas, and on rides. Masks are encouraged except in the water. Team members, however, are required to stay masked; and hand sanitizers are located throughout the park. Evan Barnett, General Manager of Typhoon Texas says “We are definitely going to recommend that when people are here enjoying the park they wear a mask.”

Also in Texas, the just-opened Wonderland Amusement Park, is basing its policies on those of the state, according to Wonderland controller Rebecca Parker. Employees throughout the park must wear masks, and social distancing markers are in place at ride and food queues. Masks for guests over the age of ten are listed as required on the website.

Canyon Aqua Park manager Andrew Neighbors is adding a disinfecting hour between waterpark sessions, from 3 to 4 p.m. The park is open limited hours, 12-3 and 4-7 p.m. Social distancing and capacity limitations are in place; six-feet-apart markers are on the ground by ride queues and loungers are positioned six-feet apart.

On the East Coast, amusement park capacity in NJ is capped at 50%, but beach boardwalk rides reopened July 2, with employees and attendees required to wear masks. Morey's Piers' Will and Jack Morey assert “We are working hard to redefine family fun this summer.” From plexiglass barriers at registers and food stands to protect staff and guests, to requiring masks for guests over the age of 2, the pier parks are keeping attendees as safe as possible, aided by the ocean breezes.

Additional hand-sanitizing stations at ride entrances, kids areas, queue lines and restrooms among other areas are in place, as is frequent cleaning and disinfecting of ride surfaces, bathrooms, and all high touch surfaces. Life jackets will also be sanitized between uses, and staff members will be health-screened daily. The parks' website states “Face covering are required in the waterpark at all times other than when in pools, walking to or riding on a waterslide, or when sitting with only your traveling party and socially distanced from others.”

Reminders for social distancing are on the ground; seating is spaced apart; and ride lines are automated and staggered to “minimize wait time.”  In other waterpark news, ProSlide Techology partnered with Wilderness Resorts and Waterpark to open the new Soaky Mountain Waterpark in Seiverville, Tenn.

Soaky Mountain at the Wilderness (TN) opened this summer

Currently, the park is open and utilizing increased cleaning throughout. Masks, per state mandate, are required in restrooms, as well as in dining and shopping facilities; but the park is not requiring mask use even out of the water within the waterpark. “We are strongly encouraging you to maintain appropriate social distancing,” the Soaky Mountain website states.

The new rides used the mountain setting in their construction. There are 17 rides including the first ProSlide Kidz Wave, the Avalaunch thrill– a brand new combination of the RocketBLAST water coaster with four FlyingSAUCERs and a TornadoWAVE at the end of the attraction.

ProSlide Senior Vice-President of Strategic Accounts Jeff Janovich says “Avalaunch marks the first time our next-generation RocketBLAST technology has been combined with our TornadoWAVE and FlyingSAUCER features…Soaky Mountain is setting the new standard of water parks and every guest will get to experience the best ProSlide ride mix of 2020.”

Summing up: masks might not be required at waterparks, but social distancing and sanitizing is so far keeping things splashing while new attractions appear promising in a look ahead.
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