After a one day employees-only soft opening, SeaWorld Orlando reopened to the general public on June 11, 2020, nearly a week after Universal Orlando Resort's reopening to the general public on June 4, 2020. And though Universal Orlando Resort has had, more or less, a successful reopening (even if foot traffic hasn't been exactly massive), SeaWorld became the second major theme park to reopen this week and has struggled a little bit to find its footing in a world still grappling with COVID-19.
Masks wearing is required but not enforced
SeaWorld Orlando announced that as part of its reopening facemasks would be required for both employees and guests. However, it looks like enforcement of this requirement has been all but nonexistent, with social media reports indicating that both guests and Team Members were spotted not wearing masks during SeaWorld's first day back to operation. And unfortunately that is not the only operational shortcoming that was reported during SeaWorld's reopening.
Social distancing challenges
Though SeaWorld Orlando has signage and speakers promoting social distancing in the parks, photos and videos of the park's opening day showed guests grouping together during shows and in enclosed spaces around the park. Though guests seem to spread out in queues (and rides are being seated in such a way that parties are all separated from one another), in areas where guests could congregate (gift shops, animal exhibits, etc.), they often did, and SeaWorld Team Members didn't seem to be trying to break up large groups.
On SeaWorld Orlando's opening day, there were big crowds at the parks, and wait times for popular attractions like Manta, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, and Mako ballooned to over an hour during the day and experienced frequent downtime, creating a frustrating situation for guests. And compounding things, SeaWorld's app displayed incorrect information about not only wait times, but also showtimes as well. This situation would be frustrating in normal circumstances, but with the added pressure of guests trying to navigate the park safely on its first day of reopening, it created an extra challenging situation for guests.