Is Now the Right Time for Theme Parks to Return?

May 27, 2020, 6:57 PM · Here is the current, proposed line-up for theme park reopenings in the United States:

Are you ready to head back to the parks yet? Reopening plans are creating a new mix of excitement and anxiety among fans. For me, I've tried to avoid labeling any reopening announcement as "good news." Who knows yet if these reopenings will turn out to be good for society... or a horrible mistake? For now, the announcements are just "news." History will judge them later.

So how do I react? It's my job to offer insight on this stuff, and I've been interviewed for my reaction by CNN, The New York Times, CTV (Canada), NPR, the Orlando Sentinel, and multiple TV stations in Central Florida since the announcements began. (I declined to appear on Fox News, because, screw them.) But Theme Park Insider is my home, and you deserve here the most in-depth perspective that I can offer.

Let's start with this. The United States has managed this pandemic horribly. Yes, the response has varied from state to state, given the almost complete lack of federal leadership in this crisis, but we're talking about varying degrees of bad here. More than 100,000 dead in less than three months condemns us all.

States and communities did the right thing to issue stay-at-home orders when it became clear that the virus was circulating untracked in their communities. But we've squandered the past two-plus months in social isolation, as no community in the United States has implemented the universal testing and tracking program necessary to fight this virus in the absence of a vaccine. Fighting Covid-19 demands leadership at a higher pay grade than the people who work at groceries, restaurants, and theme parks.

Public health 101 in an outbreak to test as many people as possible who might have been exposed (which is all of us at this point), isolate those who test positive, track those who've been in contact with someone positive, and then isolate those persons until testing clears them. It's the best, most proven way to starve the virus of new potential victims.

Without universal testing, we're just playing the odds. Fortunately, we've learned much over the past couple months about how this new coronavirus spreads, helping us to learn the best strategies for protecting ourselves and others in public. The primary method of transmission now appears to be through the air, but the virus can live on surfaces and people without symptoms can spread the virus. That's led to the development of the new operational procedures we've seen parks adopting: social distancing, wearing masks that cover your mouth and nose, and more frequent cleaning and hand-washing.

But the best thing that people can do to protect themselves remains staying at home, which is why I suspect that the majority of Americans will not be taking trips to theme parks or other vacation destinations this year, whether they reopen or not. And that will create severe economic problems for the industry not just this year, but for years to come.

How ironic that it's under the leadership of leaders who most loudly proclaim themselves to be "pro-business" that we so often see the biggest business disasters. Will we ever learn that the best way to grow an economy is from the bottom up, paying workers and protecting public health?

As for theme parks, let's give them credit for doing all that they can to try to create the safest possible environment for their guests who choose to visit during this pandemic. I would not be surprised if some seasonal parks ran the numbers and decided to skip 2020 rather than incur start-up costs they could not recoup during a shortened season with limited attendance. But the year-round parks will be back, if for no other reason than to show capital markets that they can, and will, survive this economic catastrophe.

As the biggest tourist attraction in America, Walt Disney World wisely is deferring to other attractions to open first, enabling a gradual ramp-up of the industry. Among top-20 attendance parks, Universal Orlando is running point in opening first, helped perhaps by its parent company's decision not to furlough its full-time employees, keeping them available to plan and move more swiftly toward a return.

Reopening will not be instant. Parks have to print up countless signs, install making tape, hang plastic sheeting, then recall and retrain employees to operate in many ways counter to the training they were given in the past. The days of "keep up with the party in front of you" and "fill in all available space" spiels are over. So might the days of things going terribly wrong, because they already have.

Theme parks long have promoted themselves as an escape. But there is no escape from Covid-19 — not while many of America's leaders see this pandemic as an opportunity to impose authoritarianism rather than protect the public. Yet we need not escape the pandemic to find some peace, some rest, and some joy within our lives as we endure it.

Theme parks can provide that. So if you want to go visit a park this year — go. Yet if you feel more comfortable staying at home — stay. Enjoy our coverage, our videos, and our community while you await your next trip.

Your choice, whatever it is, is the correct one... just so long as you follow a park's rules if you do visit. Thank you for your time and attention during this crisis. It's been my pleasure to bring you the news, and I hope that you will continue to read - and recommend - Theme Park Insider as we move into this next chapter in the industry's history.

Replies (67)

May 27, 2020 at 7:43 PM

First, Robert, thanks for all your coverage during this debacle. And I know you’ve caught some flak about the “political” bent of some of your posts, but your comment about FOX news above made me LOL :-)

That said, I think the reaction to this virus has been bungled from the start — yes, some places such as NYC, Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans should have been locked down early and hard, but I’m not sure about the rest of the country. The original catastrophic estimates for Florida (my home state) have not reached anywhere near what was expected, and I don’t think the damage to our state’s economy (especially the tourism-centric parts of it such as restaurants, bars, locally owned gift shops, hotels and yes, theme parks) was quite worth it based on what actually happened.

I would willing go to Universal now as soon as I’m able, and any other state attraction. The only thing I don’t like about the current approach is the mask requirement - and it has nothing to do with a political agenda. I just don’t believe it’s sustainable in Florida weather and I also refuse to believe that masks should become a “new normal”. The whole image of a society wearing masks forever is just too dystopian for me to stomach.

Not to mention the fact of how many masks and gloves have wound up randomly dropped in parking lots and beaches — people are pigs by nature. And I’ll be curious to see how places like SeaWorld and Animal Kingdom handle the mask issue — since we can’t hardly trust people not to throw them in the animal habitats. SeaWorld was an advocate of paper straws year before it became socially popular for that very reason. And it’s notable that places like Marineland and Gatorland aren’t requiring guest masks, probably for the same reason (though Gatorland’s Social Distancing Skunk Ape is absolutely the most hilarious thing I’ve seen to come out of this stupid situation).

Anyway, I support all parks in their efforts to reopen and hope that we can all be back to having real fun soon.

May 27, 2020 at 7:47 PM

Robert, I have enjoyed reading your column regularly, you have always provided good information. Until today I trusted your information, with the reveal of your political views I no longer trust that your information is unbiased.

While I could go into many errors in your diatribe I will simply point out that the United States is governed under a constitution which grants the powers you have suggested to the states and not the Federal government.

May 27, 2020 at 8:04 PM

Nobody seems to mention that the virus was circulating in the US in January and February. During this time, theme parks were open, few people were wearing masks, and even the doctors who were treating those patients didn't notice a difference between the virus and the seasonal flu.

It wasn't until the virus began entering nursing homes in March that doctors noticed it was something other than the typical flu. If you actually look at the statistics for the demographics of people who typically visit the parks, you'll find that this virus is often less dangerous than the flu. Yes, the virus has the potential to be dangerous to anyone, but those risks have always been present with other viruses, and they've never justified the lockdowns and actions that we're seeing today.

Clearly, people who work in nursing homes or are caregivers for someone who may be vulnerable need to factor that into their risk assessment, and should be required to take social distancing measures. However, applying those measures to the entire population simply doesn't make sense when you actually look at all the numbers.

May 27, 2020 at 8:22 PM

If the forecasts we had in March had proved to be low, then I would say no. However, with the data we have now, I absolutely think we need to push for a return to as normal as safely possible as soon as possible. IMO, extending the lockdown beyond the end of April was questionable based on projections at the time and a mistake based on data now available, and given how poorly utilized that time was I have no doubt we paid a premium for a marginal increase in safety. It is unreasonable to ask citizens to continue shouldering an extreme burden when those who are in power are not making wise choices and squandering every resource they are given. That is oppression, and based on what is happening now, I think most Americans are over it.

If a park in Southern California were to open tomorrow and act as if the pandemic never happened, I wouldn't go, but that's because I have work and not due to the virus. However, I would go on Friday when I'm off. I think an awareness of this virus is important, as are measures to limit its spread to vulnerable populations, but ultimately it is everyone's individual responsibility to decide what they feel comfortable doing. We are treating a virus with a moderate threat level as a world-ending apocalyptic disaster, and I think that mentality is an order of magnitude more dangerous than COVID.

May 27, 2020 at 10:11 PM

Well said Robert

May 27, 2020 at 10:42 PM

@AJ Hummell: "Return to normal" isn't coming for a long time. Masks, distancing and such are still a way of life for a while even if diners/movies/stores get going again because of how this can spread.

Again, had we done major testing to figure cases, we'd be in better shape. But now you hear of things like Colorado beautician infecting dozens because she didn't know she had it. Or church gatherings with mass sickness and cases rising in Alabama.

I keep hearing "individual responsibility" but that's like saying "if I wanna drive drunk, that's my choice" and ignore dangers to others. Do I like shelter orders, wearing masks and all that? Of course not but I understand these are rules and laws now and going with it.

And I would argue given polls and folks staying home from reopened malls, etcs most aren't "over it" but wary given the risk still out there and the dangers of another spike affecting things even worse.

May 27, 2020 at 10:45 PM

And I remain amazed at folks going "oh, the numbers weren't so horrible so we never needed shelter orders," ignoring that maybe it's because of shelter orders they're so low (and 100,000 deaths is still horrible). These governors did not just choose to crater economies for no reason but going off data of actual scientists and the crazy thought saving lives was more important. So this idea that these were random decisions and governors are "enjoying the power" is really out there.

May 27, 2020 at 11:19 PM

@char123abc...

You can criticize a response to something without being biased. You go to a theme park blog and use words like "trust".

No matter who is sitting in the oval office the same lack of planning, non-strategies, no transparency, no testing, will produce the same bad result. 5.6 million cases in the world and we have 1/5 of them. The response from 3rd world countries are significantly above the US. It doesn't matter who is commandless and chief if you take the same bad steps. In the end, this will only stand as a testament what not to do.

If you don't trust information from a theme park website than you don't really trust anything. My advise to you is start looking at this for what it really is or bury your head in the sand the next 3 years.

May 27, 2020 at 11:27 PM

Mike, I never said "return to normal," I said "as normal as safely possible." There are certain sensible things that need to become standard in the near term, such as requiring masks at indoor locations and maintaining distance from others who may be asymptomatic carriers. The problem is that we are finding the virus is far less dangerous for the average person than initially believed, yet heavy restrictions are still being maintained with no known end date despite lacking data to back them up and leaders falling far short of goals they claimed to meet. You can only flatten the curve so far, and once it levels out extending closures will only harm society as a whole.

We also need to be very careful to consider what numbers we're looking at. A raw count of infections is not very useful, especially when we have no effective treatment and the mortality rate of the virus is less than 0.5%. Instead, we need to look at hospitalization numbers first and foremost. If the hospitalization rate is threatening to overwhelm the medical system in an area, stricter closures are warranted. If not, we're better off letting it play out. The ultimate target should be to open as much as the medical system will allow, as that will let us get past this in the quickest time possible.

May 27, 2020 at 11:33 PM

Someone at a site came up with a good bit on the "numbers aren't as bad as believed" line:
What they're missing - what many who anticipated such a spike were missing was that due to sheltering orders, new cases had been effectively stalled in most areas of the country. Even if there were mass congregations, it wasn't going to cause an immediate spike because there weren't enough people who already had the disease in the area to cause a spike.

What it's done, instead, is restart the clock, now with a large percentage of local populaces knowing about proper precautions. So if a place went into lockdown, they weren't going to emerge into a NYC / NJ type of outbreak, but we were going to see a slow and steady growth of cases and deaths proportional to how many locals were maintaining safety etiquette.

And that's what we're seeing. Slow growth in many places, not the spike... yet..

May 28, 2020 at 12:50 AM

Here is an interview with Bob Chapek about the reopening of Disney’s parks. Apologies if it has already been posted:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/27/media/disney-world-open-bob-chapek/index.html

May 28, 2020 at 12:55 AM

I can tolerate wearing a mask/social distancing on a hot Florida day, or I can tolerate long waits. I will not tolerate doing both at the same time, as the guests in Shanghai are currently experiencing. If we consistently see wait times in triple digits for a month after parks open, it'll be a while before I go back to one.

May 28, 2020 at 4:01 AM

(I declined to appear on Fox News, because, screw them.)
Maybe this is because you are AFRAID? Afraid to answer REAL questions and just spew you Left coast bias without having to engage in vigorous debate with another point of view? Coward!
You mention Testing as do all Leftist sites without explaining the actual manufacturing difficulties in ramping up to so many test! Tests that EVERYONE now is reporting are not very accurate anyway! Manufacturing ramps take years, not months or days as everyone wants to believe!
Theme Parks waited until the last possible Second to close yet there was no spike in those areas because of it, let's be honest with ourselves and stop spewing CNN talking points Robert!
Wear Masks in indoor queues, but outside, not necessary and theme park visitors will be completely fine, and if you don't think so, DON'T EFFING GO!
I may also ask, Why do the Lefties and Robert NOT condemn the Chinese government MORE than Trump and why do they NOT admit than there is no government in the entire world that contained this effectively if not for their geography, which is how many travelers they receive on any given day?
Mr Cuomo, my Governor, who everyone loves failed miserable with his nursing home policies but is universally praised just because he is NOT trump, LOL!
I can't wait until Trump is re-elected and everyone, AGAIN, can complain about how racist everyone is and "Claim" they are going to move out of the USA! PLEASE DO SO!

May 28, 2020 at 4:12 AM

Good Reading
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-liberal-leaning-media-has-passed-its-tipping-point-11590430876

May 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

I have to say, I’m pretty upset to be reading this type of content here. It’s just not the place for this. I believe everyone has the right to their opinions and I would never critique you on them, they are your opinions. But this is my last visit to this website. I understand you report on theme parks and obviously Covid played a huge part of that story, but this is not the type of content I expect or want from visiting this site. Maybe you’re auditioning for a job with CNN, but sadly this will be my last visit here.

May 28, 2020 at 6:05 AM

Come visit Orlando's newest attraction when the parks reopen this summer - the heat exhaustion med tent!

May 28, 2020 at 6:06 AM

I have not mentioned politics on any post on this site, and I rarely, if ever, post my personal political opinions in public, but for people to say that they are going to refuse to come back to this site due to the extremely minor comments made in the post above is amazing to me. I will not engage in name calling, and I am sure my politics do not always line up with many, including Robert’s, as I refuse to see things as solely one side or the other, but why in the world would you avoid the best theme park site because somebody’s personal politics don’t exactly align with yours if you love theme parks? Everybody wants this situation to conclude in a safe and effective manner. Right now, as I post this, nobody knows how it will turn out. That little virus does not care about politics. It could be a huge mistake opening up. It might save that region of the economy. It might be a combination of the two. But there is no reason to get bent out of shape when a person has a different viewpoint.

May 28, 2020 at 6:34 AM

What is this obsession with "heat exhaustion"? Do people actually believe that Disney and Universal don't know how to manage heat exhaustion? Are they claiming that the parks have not considered the consequences of masks during the hot summer months?

Sheesh!

May 28, 2020 at 7:07 AM

Hi Robert!

Long time lurker, first time poster, and wow! What a great story to post on!

I agree completely with Robert. Thanks for the honesty, and to those who feel they are smarter than this virus, well, good luck! You'll need it!

May 28, 2020 at 7:32 AM

Wow what unprofessionalism Robert. Including your political views is one of the biggest mistakes in media. I knew you were a joke when you had your theme park "awards" that you just always picked YOUR favorites. Why in the world would you include politics in this?? Well I definitely won't be visiting your page anymore because you're biased. I knew you were just a tiny little blog that no one really cared about or noticed when all the other sites had so many more comments and were unbiased.

May 28, 2020 at 7:51 AM

Let’s all remember three things:

1) we are all human beings (let’s treat each other that way, with common respect)

2) we are all adults (let’s start acting like it. We can discuss differing views and opinions)

3) the virus does not know politics (political views mean nothing in terms of the spread of COVID-19)

That said, the facts are out there. Social distancing did help reduce the spread of the virus. In turn, this lowered projections. Many other countries were able to get testing kits quickly and efficiently. Why the US still continues to struggle with this is baffling.

May 28, 2020 at 7:52 AM

The simple answer to Robert's question is, in my opinion, No.

But hey, as we've seen over the past few months we all have our own opinions, and they have certainly been aired in one form or another, and not necessarily having any bearing on theme parks.

Anyway, I digress .... if the parks say that wearing a mask is mandatory, then so be it. I'll wear a mask. If you think that wearing a mask will detract from your enjoyment of going to the park ... don't go. If you think wearing a mask will make it uncomfortable and hot ... don't go. It's really very simple. I still query how a mask will perform on a ride, but certainly wearing one, while waiting in line, is so far as I can tell, just plain common sense. Why wouldn't you ??

As an off shore angler, I'm in the blazing sun for 6-8hrs on any given Florida day in the summer. I wear a buff to cover my face, with sunglasses and a hat. Does it get hot and sweaty .. sure does, but would I go and fish offshore without all that protection? Never in a million years. Would I, at the moment, go to a theme park to be surrounded by people I don't know, and not wear a mask. Never in a million years.

I'm not planning to visit any parks anytime soon. Maybe in the Fall, but that will depend on the predicted second wave and how bad it might be. There's plenty of other places I can take my outdoor hikes, and not have to worry if the person 6ft in front of me who pulled down their mask so they could sneeze loudly into the air, and not into their elbow, has the virus or not.

Stay safe everyone.

May 28, 2020 at 8:24 AM

This is legitimately one of the best pieces of journalism I've ever read on a theme park blog.

And not to go too Betteridge's on you, but the answer to the headline is "hell no."

May 28, 2020 at 8:53 AM

I've said it before, and I'll say it again that this heat exhaustion stuff is complete and utter nonsense. I work in an industry that takes health and safety very seriously, and during the summer months, we get lots of flack from new and less experienced workers about some of the safety requirements at sites. These requirements include wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts, gloves, and hard hats. I don't know how many workers come crying to me that those requirements are going to cause them to pass out on a hot/humid day. I have to point out to them why those requirements are in place (gloves to protect from common/frequent hand injuries from tools/sharps, long sleeve shirts to protect from abrasions and sun exposure - and sometimes fire safety in/near flammable atmospheres, hard hats to protect from overhead hazards and falling objects). I typically have to wager with them through the first day that wearing these PPE will not significantly impact their exposure to heat exhaustion, and note the additional steps that are taken when temps are above 80-degrees (like frequent breaks, additional water/Gatorade on site, and shorter shifts). Usually by the end of the first 90+ degree day, the workers understand that as long as they abide by those additional steps, wearing long sleeves, gloves, and hard hats is not that bad, and that the slightly increased risk of heat exhaustion from wearing these PPE does not outweigh the other hazards that those PPE protect workers from.

Masks are the same deal, and I think far too many people are making inferences based on the perception of wearing a mask during a 90+ Florida afternoon, not actual empirical evidence. Can guests go zipping through a theme park on a hot/humid day at the same speed with a mask as they did before? No - they will probably need to take a break every hour or so and drink plenty of water to compensate for the additional effort it takes to breath through a mask, but that slight behavior modification is minuscule compared to the protection that masks provide to you and your loved ones (as well as everyone that crosses your path in a given day).

May 28, 2020 at 9:01 AM

Wow looks like Char123abc and kenmuzyka1 are the same person\user as Progressivemusiclover- idiot. All were created during the same time frame and the writing styles are the exact same....

Mr Tolerance should we rename yourself Mr Red Hat....And on the back of that Red hat is says - Made in China, hahahaha - What a Joke!!

I am a lefty and I do not trust China. I will not invest in Chinese companies either since they manipulate their earnings numbers.
Since I just crushed your really dumb theory saying the usual genre of Fox News, you have a choice not to return to the informative Theme park site.

The governor of NY has done more to inform the American citizens than Trump, your Hero said to use disinfectant internally, Called it a Hoax and said it will be gone (The Virus) in a week...

The NY governor sounded the alarm informing the seriousness of this deadly killer. But by all means grab a syringe, fill it with Clorox and inject away while laying on a Tanning bed...(Wicked Smot President)

Also feel free to use the X in the left corner of your browser or red dot on the right side if on a Mac...

Robert has been working hard and doing a great job informing all of us on the Theme Park closings and I want to Thank him.
I bet the web site traffic increased traffic immensely since the parks closed and we were looking for information about them.

Simple question - Why come to a site if you feel the information is untrue?

I do not watch Fox News nor do I listen to a blow hard like Rush Limbaugh since they spew lies and BS.. Heck, Twitter is now adding information links to the Presidential Tweets when he lies...

Enjoy...

May 28, 2020 at 10:53 AM

@MrTorrance: That you consider Fox News "journalism" says it all. Lest you forget, they spent February and early March downplaying the pandemic and openly calling it a hoax. And still doing bits on "fake numbers" and slamming governors as "worse than Nazis." They wouldn't know real journalism if it bit them.

As a former Florida resident, I get the concerns on heat exhaustion but some people make it sound like folks are dropping like flies all the time at parks when 99 percent are smart to keep cool and hydrated when there. People will adjust to the masks with that, not be pushed to worse health.

May 28, 2020 at 10:54 AM

@ kenmuzyka1
@Char12345(I have the same combination on my luggage!):
- I think, if I may speak for some of the folks who have been reading this site for a while, that what we all want to know is if you are at least still a Prog-Rock fan at all?

@MrTorrance:

Robert disagrees with Fox News’ coverage of reality and as a veteran journalist I’d wager that he is probably so trained to report facts and not parrot political talking points from fringe media that he is inherently unable to appear on that network. And you disagree with that. No problem. That’s the beauty of a discussion forum. But to call the man COWARD! for that from the warm, comfy fortress of your keyboard is a bit over the top. It’s like, “all reason and no gas lighting make Mr. Torrance an unhappy boy” Sorry that was a paraphrased quote from a Stephen King (an unabashed liberal by the way) but I forget which one...
We love to hear your viewpoints but you don’t have to namecall and bully. It diminishes you sir :)

May 28, 2020 at 11:17 AM

Wow... What is going on? This site was straight theme park news without political influence for years. It would have been hard to determine the author's political leanings in many previous articles. I join up and suddenly every article is loaded with political bias. Sorry to inform everyone here, but the news outlets that interviewed him are just as guilty of misrepresenting information and deceiving via omission as FOX. CNN will play a collage of FOX clips making the points outlined by @MikeW, while FOX has clips of CNN DOING THE SAME THING. Anyone claiming different is a liar and a fool (this is not something I would fear saying in person either). You are all becoming as guilty, as those you hate, of dividing this country.

Seriously, maybe joining this site was the wrong move. It was so much better when it was straight news and infotainment.

May 28, 2020 at 11:18 AM

Sorry to see the discussion become political. As Disney and theme park fans, I hoped we were above that, but not surprised. I understand and accept every argument, but when I go to a theme park, I like to leave the real world behind. Oh well...

May 28, 2020 at 2:34 PM

One thing for me that I don't think has been mentioned yet, is that it's being revealed through multiple sources and articles that De Santis has been hiding the true death toll and infection rate of covid for Florida. With the more I read about the parks opening, it feels like the locals will be the ones heading in first and frankly, that's not an environment I feel I could let my guard down around and have a fun time...especially at a Disney price point. Over a hundred thousand Americans dead and rising, new hot spots popping up all over...the virus is still raging. There are certain goods and services I NEED during this time but running around a theme park isn't one of them. I can wait.

May 28, 2020 at 11:46 AM

If you are pissed off after reading this, too bad. So the wannabe Authoritarian dictator President threatens to impose restrictions on social media outlets that fact check his tweets (lies) and anyone that questions his lack of providing any facts to back up his baseless claims. Remember when he said the virus was one person and it would just go away? He ignores the real problem of over 100k dead from Covid-19. Ask the families of the 100k if this is a media hoax. And you wonder why Robert would not appear on the Trump propaganda channel aka Fox News. Threats to social media and the press by Trump are an attack every American and on one of the pillars of a free and democratic society. That should scare everyone as much as the immediate threat of the virus.

May 28, 2020 at 11:54 AM

Well. This has been fun. Online political discussions are always SO beneficial, ain't they? Yeesh, people. You aren't changing anyone's mind or opinions on a theme park website. Go out and have these discussions with your neighbors in person where you can remember you are talking to a human being (with social distancing safety in place of course).

May 28, 2020 at 12:02 PM

I'm frankly astonished by all the inflammatory rhetoric in response to Robert's post. I find it well thought out although I am admittedly left-leaning. As to whether I'd be ready to return to theme parks any time soon, I do have some reservations. Whereas people in downtown Philly have for the most part been very good at respecting social distancing, I would not necessarily expect the same from parkgoers. A friend found this article featuring a shot of masked guests riding Cannibal - which I reviewed for TPI back in 2015 - and I don't know that I'm physically or psychologically comfortable with this. If the 4 riders pictured came to the park together, I'd feel more comfortable than if they had not. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/trump-states-gold-coronavirus-covid-19-1.5582277

May 28, 2020 at 12:33 PM

More power to you Robert. Yes, Screw Fox News. That's all.

May 28, 2020 at 1:01 PM

Robert, first and foremost what a well done article. Thank you.

Second, if this virus spikes this fall the government will not need to lock the economy down, people will. They will decide that an Outback steak, trip to Universal or new shirt at the mall is not worth risking their lives. The economy will then enter a depression.

We get one shot at reopening the economy without causing a bigger issue later this year. The people that are saying the economy needs to have the doors thrown open need to also champion mask wearing, social distancing, etc. or the economy may not recover for a long time.

May 28, 2020 at 2:57 PM

What??? I'm missing out on all this fun? OK, let me join in. Screw CNN, screw MSNBC, screw NBC, CBS, and ABC News!

Has anybody changed their opinion because of my learned and thoughtful post?

Didn't think so.

The next four years of the Trump administration are going to be so much fun here on TPI. Dig in, sling the mud, have fun, but let's not hate each other.

May 28, 2020 at 3:02 PM

>> While I could go into many errors in your diatribe I will simply point out that the United States is governed under a constitution which grants the powers you have suggested to the states and not the Federal government.

Has anyone informed the White House? I’m fairly sure Donald said something along the lines of “that’s the way it’s got to be” when claiming that authority.

Strictly speaking, the constitution doesn’t “grant” the states anything - it has no authority to do so. The Federal Government gets its authority from the states - the constitution is grantiing the federal government authority over pooled sovereignty.

Whilst it’s true the many of the areas are reserved to the states, many areas are also federal responsibility. Incoming travellers from everywhere should have been required to go through 14 day quarantine (as Australia and New Zealand require - some Australian states even require it for interstate travellers) rather than the ill thought out country based approach In the US, or no approach in the UK (were told were going to get this, eventually).

Robert is free to like whatever news outlets he likes, and engage with whatever outlets he likes. However I want to question this idea that he’s “biased”. Well yeah. Everyone is biased. Those who think they are unbiased are, if I can use a trumpism, the most biased there are.

The real question is does he let it get in the way of his reporting. As some have correctly pointed out, this is a theme park blog. Does anyone actually here know Roberts personal thoughts on how the theme parks and rides stack up? Can anyone tell me which, if any, theme park related companies he detests? I’m going to cautiously bet on no, you can’t. Could any of you tell, outside of knowing from his book, which theme park company he used to work for? (You have all bought and read the book, right? If not, do it)

At the end of the day, what matters is if he’s fair and impartial on his beat - theme parks. I think for the most part he is. Maybe it’s a little too focused on US and the big two, but judging from the last year or so, I think it’s something He’s recognised and is trying to fix with the Abu Dhabi/Elfting reporting.

Can anyone say that he’s not?

May 28, 2020 at 3:13 PM

Wow, so when I initially saw this story I opened up the link thinking I was going to see a poll. This totally went a different correction. A few articles ago I really thought that the political talk was not necessary and was simply taking away from the beauty of this site. BOY WAS I WRONG. Seeing the back and forth is becoming some of the more entertaining stuff on the internet. I'm thinking we get Vince McMahon registered and setup a ladder match between MikeW and Mr Torrance. I'm only wondering now if after Mr. Niles writes these articles if he sits back and yells "DANCE PUPPETS...DANCE!!!!! HAHAHAHA". Seriously a few of you sound like children arguing your points. There are ways to express your opinion without knocking the other person down because NEWSFLASH.. a opinion is just that, an opinion. There is no right or wrong and no one is taking score on who is coming up with the best insult. The bottom line is that there are falsities and truths on both sides of the spectrum. None of us know the right answers and all we can do is speculate and say how we feel. Unfortunately it is at the expense of respect for one another and that is what is really sad here.
Oops, I forgot about the poll question. Is this the right time to open? Well I would think (again my opinion only and likely totally wrong) the best time to open would be when COVID-19 is no longer a threat. Unfortunately no one on the face of this planet knows when that will be. It could be end of this year, end of next year, 10 years, or never. No it is not the RIGHT time to open but it has to be done. These places can't remain closed for the next however many months. And the risks we face now will likely still exist in another month or two. Yes there are many risks with this and we don't know if this will end up being a huge mistake or if this goes smooth. But shouldn't it be up to us decide whether we go or not?
These theme parks deserve tremendous credit for shutting down and attempting to help slow this thing down. They are totally revamping policies and making every adjustment necessary to provide a safe atmosphere. Yes it is not full-proof, but will it ever be? No one's hand is forced to get to a theme park on June 5th, or June 11th, or July 11th. The only one line that completely stands out from Mr. Niles's post is "Your choice, whatever it is, is the correct one... just so long as you follow a park's rules if you do visit."

May 28, 2020 at 4:05 PM

Love the site but Robert must have needed some clicks today. In 2020, one sure way to get the crazies out is to side-eye Fox news. Are we all pretending he didn't know that?

May 28, 2020 at 4:48 PM

@MrTorrance

ROFLMFAO (I can't breathe...I can't breathe )

If you are a journalist you don't want information you are being provided given a completely different context, why talk. Regardless of whom it is if you believe the organization is going to take that information and use it in a way that is inconsistent with the sources whom provided you information you don't talk to them.

They have a name for it... it's called "burning bridges". All reporting groups have a lean bias. However, most news agencies reporters set that aside. The ones that don't write articles as "Opt Eds". A reader should extract the news from the article and effectively knows when they are reading something biased. You can still get news from it and I don't sit back and criticize or bully the source. They have a name for that too..censorship. If you don't like what you are reading turn the page...

As for the rest of you comments... it's just drool for ghouls.

May 28, 2020 at 4:59 PM

What I find most interesting is as follows:
1) that the countries that had the best results, were in Asia. Could it be that most Asians were masks especially when outside, due to pollution, as part of their daily life.
2) Trump refuses to wear a mask but demands that those around him do.
3) my grandfather told me many many years ago that only a fool depends upon one source of news, everyone has their own bias CNN finds nothing good about Trump - Fox same regarding Obama.

My grandfather always said that there is three sides to every story yours, mine and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Some don't like testing as it will show, in their minds, problems. Some like tests because when you know where problems are you can isolate and contain. The problem with testing is that it is only good for now, you can come into contact with the virus 10 minutes after the swab is taken and then the game changes.

Back to the question at hand I agree with Carlos, there is no one RIGHT time to open but business has to. IF you are comfortable with the risk and IF you follow the rules set out by the business, like them or not, THEN go to the parks, the mall wherever but everyone needs to follow the rules or expect to be told to leave.

May 28, 2020 at 5:21 PM

>> that the countries that had the best results, were in Asia. Could it be that most Asians were masks especially when outside, due to pollution, as part of their daily life.

I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s a different culture when it comes to cleanliness (of which masks could be argued to be part of) and a more willing ability to do what’s best for the community

>> Trump refuses to wear a mask but demands that those around him do.

I actually find this weird. He was a notorious germophobe and he (or to be more preaches, his ghostwriters) railed against hand shaking in his books (yes, I read art of the deal and art of the comeback, I used to like him before I realised his persona is a lie). Now he’s not so much.


>> The problem with testing is that it is only good for now

Not strictly correct, there is an antibody test in mass production now. That will tell if you’ve had it, with the expectation that the presence of antibodies means you’re at least immune for a short period.

>> Back to the question at hand I agree with Carlos, there is no one RIGHT time to open but business has to. IF you are comfortable with the risk and IF you follow the rules set out by the business, like them or not, THEN go to the parks, the mall wherever but everyone needs to follow the rules or expect to be told to leave.

The issue I have with that is that due to the nature of our society means that there have to be people there who do not exactly have a free choice to be there. If you chose to, to pick an example, Inject bleach, you would be assuming the risk only for yourself. When you choose to visit these places you’re not just assuming the risk for yourself, but for all of those you meet.

May 28, 2020 at 5:25 PM

All of the political stuff is so exhausting. No response from the Trump administration would be good enough for his detractors and even if he did do everything right, he would still be criticized. The rules are common knowledge with the biggest one being social distancing. Honestly, I think it's probably better that every state had their own response so they can tailor their own strategy rather than following whatever one-strategy-fits-all Trump could give. Also, I think you missed an opportunity to reach out to the Fox News crowd to give your honest expert advice on Theme Parks. But anyways, I like this site and I hope it gets less political lol (yeah, i know my post isn't helping).

May 28, 2020 at 5:34 PM

>> Honestly, I think it's probably better that every state had their own response so they can tailor their own strategy rather than following whatever one-strategy-fits-all Trump could give.

That’s fallacious reasoning, as if the choices were central government does everything or practically nothing.

A central government has a key role to play on a national crisis coordination. The FedGov could have acted as a single point for negotiation on purchasing ventilators and PPE. Instead you got 51+ different governments bidding up each other. The FedGov could have coordinated sharing resources, instead messages like “it’s our stockpile not theirs” came out... and I’ve already mentioned the poorly thought out contry based travel ban approach which isn’t within the authority of state governments.

May 28, 2020 at 5:40 PM

Chad H. You make a good point. Yes, it's true you are in essence assuming risk for those you may meet or may be around. However, that then would stand true anytime you leave your home. If you go to the grocery store, risk. If you get drive thru (not everyone has apple pay) risk. Get gas and touch the handle, risk. Stepping out of the house essentially can be a risk. We can either live in fear and simply shut EVERYTHING down, or live with the risk but take every precaution necessary. Just as an individual, don't be careless.
Keeping your distance at a theme park is not impossible. Washing your hands, wearing masks, and consistent hand sanitizing is all feasible. These are pretty reasonable standards that we can all incorporate in theme park visits that should be relatively effective. Reduced capacities will also go a long way.

May 28, 2020 at 7:40 PM

Your site is awesome, Mr. Niles, and your writing is excellent.

If so many people take offence to your well written article, then so be it.

The greatest shame of this latest period of history in the United States, is that it has emboldened the most ignorant to be the most vocal. Freedom of speech is of great importance in a society, but boy it's nicer when the stupid ones are too befuddled or confused to speak up. But when they keep getting told that all those confusing concepts like complex facts and reasoned thinking are lies meant to trick them, they get brave and start puffing out their chest to share the results of their limited thought processes.

Keep up the good work. In a world of buffoons in command and rampant disease, its your kind of quality entertainment that keeps people hopeful for better days to come.

May 28, 2020 at 8:37 PM

Oh my. You'd think that handling a public health crisis and theme parks would not be political. And yet here we are. EVERYTHING is these days, with many living in their own universe with their own set of "facts."

@MrTorrance: "Maybe this is because you are AFRAID? Afraid to answer REAL questions and just spew you Left coast bias without having to engage in vigorous debate with another point of view? Coward!"

He would have been there to talk about reopening theme parks. What exactly would these "real" questions be that he's afraid to answer? It's his right to not want to appear on Fox News. That doesn't make in a coward. Plenty of legitimate reasons to not want to appear on that channel.

Re testing -- there's no question that this country dropped the ball on testing in the first few months of the virus. Blame who you want, but certainly the guy at the top has at least some responsibility there? Other countries managed to get mass testing up and running MUCH more quickly and on a PER CAPITA basis were far ahead of the U.S. One reason is the CDC botched their test early on, but that's just ONE reason, not the only reason.

"Wear Masks in indoor queues, but outside, not necessary and theme park visitors will be completely fine, and if you don't think so, DON'T EFFING GO!"

Disney is private property. They can make whatever rules they want about masks. If YOU don't like it, then don't go. States and local governments have this authority as well, if they so choose. It's called state's rights -- isn't that something conservatives allegedly hold dear?

"I may also ask, Why do the Lefties and Robert NOT condemn the Chinese government MORE than Trump and why do they NOT admit than there is no government in the entire world that contained this effectively if not for their geography, which is how many travelers they receive on any given day?"

So... Trump was praising China and Xi just as much as the World Health Organization was in the early months. China did the world no favors. That doesn't mean we can't ALSO point out Trump's mishandling as well.

Untrue about no government being able to contain this. That's clearly not true. Some counties have handled this far better than others. Look at Germany, for example. VERY low death rate there. Also Canada hasn't had nearly the problem the U.S. has. Also, handled far better in many Asian countries, where they quickly ramped up testing, isolated the sick, and mask usage was already common.

It was gonna come here no matter what, yes, but the impact could have been lessened.

May 29, 2020 at 1:01 AM

@atiblaze: Exactly. With a proper pandemic response team and serious testing, it would have been like swine flu was, serious but contained. Maybe shelter in places like Seattle or NYC but nowhere near "shut down the country/sports/movies" etc levels.

And that places cite "the true human cost" as unemployment numbers rather than 100,000 dead in just three months says a lot about how some view this.

May 29, 2020 at 1:30 AM

This thread is wild!

I remember the good ole days when we would discuss whats better, Disney or Universal. Both are winners in my book FYI. I haven't quite figured out who the sides are here but I'm pretty sure its pro and anti 45.

Imagine if all these dudes here were watching the Hall of Presidents together and then 45 starts talking. It would go down somehow! Best if you all remain behind a keyboard.

May 29, 2020 at 3:37 AM

Not sure why anyone would care about hall of the presidents. The Trump there is an animatronic, giving about as bland and noncontroversial a speech as possible (obviously he had no role in writing it). I was bored to be honest, not enraged.... will skip in the future.

But then, I'm not the type who would heckle the guy in person either, if I ever did come across the real deal.

Wonder how many people do protest the animatronic. I googled and was only able to easily find one incident... from 2017.

I did notice visible security guards when I was there last.

May 29, 2020 at 5:03 AM

>> However, that then would stand true anytime you leave your home. If you go to the grocery store, risk.

Getting food is essential. Riding a rollercoaster is not

>>If you get drive thru (not everyone has apple pay) risk.

Contactless cards have been standard here for many years... no phone required. And again, getting food is essential

>>We can either live in fear and simply shut EVERYTHING down, or live with the risk but take every precaution necessary. Just as an individual, don't be careless.

No, this is a false dichotomy as if there are only two options - all or nothing. This narrative is clearly and obviously false. You can take a balanced approach. Eliminate those risks that can be elimininared, minimise those that can’t.

May 29, 2020 at 5:26 AM

It is not political to dismiss Trump or Fox News, especially in an article about theme parks reopening during a national crisis.

One is a thug, the other a propaganda machine. Both are antithetical to the spirit of the parks.

If you like Trump, leave.

May 29, 2020 at 6:01 AM

I live in South Florida. I've worn a mask when it is 90 degrees out with an 80 degree dew point the last several days. When there are that many grains of moisture in the air (oppressive dew point) it is miserable. And those oppressive dew points go on endlessly all summer long. Doesn't even take that long before the sweat starts pouring down your mouth. Sound like fun? Oh, you bet it is.

Many, many, many people will find this out mid-afternoon on their return trip to the parks.

May 29, 2020 at 9:09 AM

Robert, I am always impressed by the quality of your writing, and have a great respect for your ability to speak up for worthy causes.

And thank you to the commentors who fill their posts with capital letters, exclamation points, and various combinations of the two. It makes it easy to know what to skip.

May 29, 2020 at 10:53 AM

@WS - Since you're a johnny-come-lately around here, you have no context for the argument. It's been going on for years on this website.

Get a clue or take a hike.

May 29, 2020 at 12:22 PM

@Tim Hillman. Commenting on a website for twenty years doesn't mean that it's yours, or that others haven't been actively reading it without participating. But, thanks.

May 29, 2020 at 1:39 PM

Well said WS, well said. Maybe that’s what your initials stand for?

May 29, 2020 at 2:27 PM

@WS - Joining a site for a month doesn't make it yours either, however you were quick to tell people who like President Trump to leave. You just got the same treatment handed right back to you.

And where's the logic behind saying that Fox News and President Trump are antithetical to theme parks? Are you now the spokesman for the theme park industry?

Both you and your little sycophant buddy, fattyackin, are still clueless.

May 29, 2020 at 3:13 PM

@Tim Hillman, the parks espouse peace, harmony, inclusivity and global interconnectedness. Walk around World Showcase. Take a ride on it's a Small World. It's not a close read.

You don't get to be a fan of them and a hateful fool who opposes what they stand for, especially when his inaction has resulted in our current situation and staggering death.

May 29, 2020 at 4:44 PM

At least you're consistent, WS. You're still clueless.

If you want to preach peace, harmony, inclusivity, and global interconnectedness, then maybe you should try to exemplify it yourself, but you didn't, so you're also a hypocrite.

Try to give people the benefit of the doubt; President Trump, Governors Newsom, DeSantis, Cuomo, and all the rest. Do you really think they want to be dealing with this situation on a daily basis with people screaming at them from all sides? Think you could do better? Go for it. Run for public office. You've already got a great start for setting all of the rules.

May 29, 2020 at 5:37 PM

@Tim Hillman In earnest, why do you like Trump?

May 29, 2020 at 7:27 PM

@WS - I don't really care for the man. I held my nose and voted for him, but if I had to choose among the last four presidents who I would most enjoy having dinner and a discussion with, he'd by my last choice.

With only a few exceptions, I don't believe in absolutes when it comes to people. I try to walk in their shoes before I judge their actions. And I try to remember that I'm very fallible. I don't think my life would be all that pretty if somebody put it under a microscope.

So, for asking that question, I withdraw some of my criticism of you.

May 29, 2020 at 8:41 PM

^ Wise words, Tim. The hypocrisy people on both sides fall into without even realizing it is disheartening (and I am sure I am just as vulnerable to such hypocrisy). I think everyone could do well to try not to portray the "other" (whether by race, creed, or politics) in such black/white, good/evil, terms. People are complex. Situations are complex. Solutions are complex. The fact someone disagrees with you about something does not necessarily mean they are evil or have evil motives. Hence why I think it is better to have political discussions in person where true dialogue can take place and you can hear the "other" fully out before coming to your conclusions about them as a person.

May 30, 2020 at 12:50 AM

I’m an avid reader in your site, theme parks are my passion, I have been devastated by not being able to go. But your articles always satisfy that itch that theme parks usually scratch. Incredible article, one I had myself reading multiple times. Despite criticism, this is your site and it is your platform. Your experience, your credibility comes with the history of this site and those that follow it religiously. I find it ironic that those who are critical of your views would be equally upset if their views were censored. Continue your incredible work.

May 30, 2020 at 6:20 AM

The United States has managed this pandemic horribly. Yes, the response has varied from state to state, given the almost complete lack of federal leadership in this crisis—-
That is an opinion. Not a fact. When you write an news article your opinion should not be included. Otherwise you specifically tell the reader that it’s your opinion. But you wrote it as a fact. If someone wrote that the Fed response has been perfect- that’s also an opinion not a fact.

May 31, 2020 at 7:23 AM

>>> Try to give people the benefit of the doubt; President Trump, Governors Newsom, DeSantis, Cuomo, and all the rest. Do you really think they want to be dealing with this situation on a daily basis with people screaming at them from all sides?

Eeeh, Trump has always struck me as someone who believes the only thing being worse than being talked about is not talked about, hence his long history of planting stories in the media through his “Barron” alter ego, and his stirring the pot on Twitter.

May 31, 2020 at 9:15 AM

Uh oh, Chad. I mention four politicians in my post and you focus in on President Trump.

Could it be?

Oh, dear God no...

You may have...

TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME!

Ok, who's speaking in the narrator voice? That's not cool.

Back to the point though, Chad, we're gonna get you some help. Brian Emery is going to send you his copy of "Emotional Survival Skills for People Whose Reality Has Been Rocked in a Post-Obama World." It hasn't done him any good, but you're not gacking up hairballs on the keyboard yet, so there's a good chance we can cure you.

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