What ever happened to cleaning & sanitizing ride vehicles after each use?

Edited: April 27, 2021, 12:43 AM

I was visiting Universal Studios Hollywood over the weekend and had a short conversation with the ride operator for the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride. I noticed that an employee was sanitizing and wiping down a ride vehicle on the loading platform. I asked if they had to wipe down every ride vehicle, and the operator said they only have to do it when they notice a rider has taken off their mask while on the ride.

Then I realized that for every ride I had been on that day, employees make sure you wipe down your hands with a foam sanitizer right before you get on the ride vehicle (Secret Life of Pets, Jurassic World, the Mummy, Transformers, Simpsons, the Studio Tour, Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff).

When the covid standards were being discussed last summer and fall, one of the standards was that a ride vehicle would have to be wiped down **for every new rider**.

I think we all realize how much of an operational issue this would have been for hourly ride capacity. Instead, it looks like Universal Studios Hollywood (the only theme park I have been to with operational rides) has made the process more streamlined by enforcing mask wearing, requiring hand sanitization before riding, and wiping down the vehicle only if riders have removed their masks and possibly contaminated the surfaces of the vehicle.

Replies (5)

April 28, 2021, 7:30 AM

I have read a few different articles addressing the way covid spreads, and I've been lead to believe that the likelihood of catching covid through a contaminated surface is extremely low. So perhaps more parks aren't deep cleaning as much this year is due to this reason. Below is the link to a more recent source of information.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00251-4

April 28, 2021, 9:41 AM

I also think Universal has found the most efficient way to ensure ride vehicles are clean without having to sanitize them after every cycle or do a deep cleaning on a routine basis. By forcing riders to rub sanitizer on their hands before boarding, guests are touching the ride vehicles with "clean hands", and the chances of bacteria and/or virus particles being transferred to contact surfaces is extremely low. A rider would essentially have to rub their nose/eyes/mouth with their hands multiple times and then touch ride vehicles to transfer any particles. Considering that many sanitizers will leave a residue on hands and surfaces, even if this transfer were to occur over the course of a ride, chances are that there will be enough sanitizer residue on the hands and common touch surfaces to kill any particles that manage to get transferred from the face.

I'm honestly surprised other parks have not utilized this "force feed" technique on rides, and are instead conducting routine cleaning of ride vehicles. It's far more efficient and less labor intensive to make guests clean the rides (by squirting sanitizer are their hands just before boarding) than it is for the operations staff to halt boarding to do it on a routine basis.

April 28, 2021, 3:40 PM

I went to SFFT back in October and at Superman they literally didn't even spray the coaster during the "sanitization period". All that the employees did was close the resrtaints and dispatch the coaster for a cycle and then load it. I'm no expert at health/science but that doesn't seem adequate to disinfect the vehicle.

At SFOT however they did spray the coaster down and then run it for a cycle, so idk.

April 29, 2021, 8:10 AM

CDC guidelines have been constantly changing since last summer when parks reopened. I'm sure Universal has weighed the CDC guidelines at the time of your visit with the need to get people through the queue quickly to come up with what they believe is the best solution (and they are likely correct IMHO).

As for SFFT not doing an adequate job way back in October: It's a Six Flags park. Of course they are going to take shortcuts and do things half-@$$ed.

April 29, 2021, 8:19 AM

We've been to Disney and Universal Orlando. We pretty much only go to Universal currently because of the fact they put hand sanitizer in your hand before you board a ride. Unless it's changed Disney was only providing hand sanitizing stations.


Shop Discounted Tickets

Theme Park Guides

Get Our Newsletter