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[Update] Leisure parks: safely reopening

Remained closed for several weeks because of Covid-19, amusement and leisure parks are beginning to welcome their first visitors. In order to respect the sanitary requirements, no spontaneous visits are possible. Update on 06/11/20.

Disneyland Resort plans to reopen Disneyland and sister theme park Disney's California Adventure on July 17, the 65th anniversary of Disneyland's opening.

Theme parks will open a week after Walt Disney World in Florida, pending local and state government approvals, Disney says in a statement posted on its website June 10, 2020. The statement says park capacity will be limited, with advance reservations required. It does not provide any other details except to say they will "be available soon'' on the parks' website. 

The reopening was a sold-out performance for Europa-Park, located a few kilometres from the French border. The park started its season two months behind schedule.

In order to allow a control of the gauge, online booking is required. Luckily, the system had just been set up for the Rulantica water park. The takeover was partial since only 10,000 people can be accommodated daily in the park for the moment. This is a much reduced attendance compared to the 30,000 visitors present on average in normal times.

A symbolic outing for some, a breath of fresh air for others, the reopening was awaited, even if it may come up against the constraints of the health crisis which requires caution.

"We will be able to live together on a day marked by recklessness and security for all. For that, it will be enough to pay attention to the others and to some fundamental rules," warns the park management through an educational video.

While the use of masks has been made compulsory in attractions, restaurants and shops, the cleaning protocols of the facilities, which already met high standards, have not been made more stringent. On the other hand, the rules of physical distancing have made it necessary to reorganize the operation of the rides, with occupation of one car out of two - all standards linked to the risk of propagation of the Covid-19 that do not seem to affect the enthusiasm of visitors.

The wait is almost over for all the Danish families who will be able to enjoy the opening of the WOW Park on June 11, 2020. Jacob Hindhede and Aage Hindhede, the founders of WOW Park, also own a park in Skjern with more than 35,000 annual visitors. The brothers are now expanding the concept with another park, five times bigger than the first one.

Located in Billund, the outdoor concept houses more than 100 play activities, including tree-top houses and suspension bridges up to 14 metres high.

"We are delighted to offer a new concept that differs from other parks in the region.  At WOW Park Skjern we have developed the concept and gained a lot of experience that we are applying in Billund Park. We are really looking forward to realizing our dreams here in Billund and offering all our guests world-class nature games," says Jacob Hindhede, Co-Founder and CEO of WOW Park.

In Hong Kong, Ocean Park and Disneyland will re-open soon. Trade Minister Edward Yau promises to boost the economy through tourism and trade. Ocean Park will be open to visitors again from Saturday 13 June, but no specific date has yet been set for Disneyland.

The imminent reopening of Hong Kong's two main amusement parks is a key step in reviving an economy plagued by the triple scourge of social unrest, the US-China trade war and the pandemic.

"We want to revive the economy in the second half of this year with new initiatives in tourism, foreign trade and commercial insurance services," said Eward Yau. "We are convinced that we will overcome the economic downturn."

Ocean Park received last month an injection of HK$5.4 billion (US$697 million) to keep itself afloat. The park will reduce its entrance fee by 30 percent for each adult visitor while offering free entry for children aged 11 or under and people aged 65 or over until the end of July. With the discounts offered to locals, the park could operate at approximately 30 to 40% of its normal capacity.

"We are beginning to explore the possibilities of bilateral agreements that would allow Hong Kong to work with countries or economies where we are both safe from the risk of epidemics," said Pang Yiu-kai, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, suggesting that an online discussion would be held with Thailand by the end of this month. The government is also examining the situation in other Southeast Asian countries as well as Japan and Korea, he said.

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