Proper Theme Park Hygiene
Ways to Stay Healthy During Your Visit
BY ERIK CHALHOUB
March was a rough month.
With spring pushing winter out of the way and Daylight Saving Time making the days last longer, it should’ve been a great month.
But there was something big missing. When Disney announced it would close all its parks at least until the end of the month, the dominoes began to fall.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk not only shut down its rides, but also the arcade, Boardwalk Bowl and Cocoanut Grove. California’s Great America delayed its traditional March opening. Six Flags closed all of its parks nationwide. Just about every other theme park chain — big, small or independent — followed suit.
Nothing is immune to the widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
It’s difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing situation. If you plan on visiting any theme park in April, please check its website before making the trip. It’s unknown whether these temporary closures will be extended.
Once the parks do reopen, you can take steps to protect yourself and others. We all (hopefully) know the basics: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, sneeze inside your elbow, etc. But what more can you do when visiting your favorite park?
Stay off the handrails — Handrails are to theme parks like bread is to a sandwich: you can’t have one without the other. But unlike a sandwich, you don’t need to constantly caress a handrail as you are waiting in line.
Everybody, sick or not, has touched them (regardless whether or not they washed their hands after going to the bathroom), and I’ve seen children wrap their mouths around them. Disgusting.
Yes, park employees do clean these handrails, but not constantly throughout the day. If you need to take a breather while waiting in line, gently lean on the handrails without using your hands. But do not sit or stand on them. That is a story for another time.
Keep your face away from shoulder restraints — Most rides, especially roller coasters that go upside-down, have what are called OTSRs, which stands for “over-the-shoulder restraints.” As such, most of these bulky bars cover the sides of your head, and everyone else’s before you that day.
Remember what I said above about children and handrails? The same applies here.
While it’s inevitable your ears and hair will touch the restraints as the ride travels its course, those should be the only parts of your body that do touch it. There’s no need to sharply turn your head to talk to the person sitting next to you — they can still hear you if you speak straight ahead.
Don’t spit — This should be a no-brainer. But it’s not. I’ve seen everybody, children and adults, spit while they are on a coaster or try to hit unsuspecting park guests with a loogie from above while on a sky ride.
Needless to say, if you spit while on roller coaster or any other ride, the speed and force of the ride will spread your saliva to those around you and propel it to those behind you.
Not only is this extremely unsanitary, it can also get you ejected from a park. So, don’t do it.
Wait awhile after lunch to continue riding — Spinning rides, roller coasters and others do not mix well, or at all, with undigested food. Nobody in line wants to see you vomit all over their seat before they get on the ride. I have nothing but respect for those ride operators who must don their gloves, grab those hoses and disinfectant bottles and get to work.
After a meal, give yourself at least 30 minutes before getting on any intense ride. Watch a show. Go on something gentle, such as an observation tower. Browse a store. There are plenty of other things to do. Your stomach and park patrons will thank you.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to help stop the spread of deadly viruses. Stay healthy out there.
LEGOLAND center opening
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Bay Area was set to open April 2 at the Great Mall in Milpitas, but it has been postponed due to the virus.
The center features more than 31,000 square feet of interactive and educational attractions geared toward children ages 3–10 and their families. It includes themed build stations, master classes in the Creative Workshop from LEGOLAND Discovery Center Bay Area’s Master Model Builder Sam Suksiri, an Imagination
Express train ride, an earthquake table, a 4D cinema, special party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations, a café, a LEGO retail shop, and the MINILAND area featuring models of San Francisco Bay Area iconic landmarks.
For information and tickets, visit bayarea.legolanddiscoverycenter.com.