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One of the biggest theme park controversies we've seen in recent years was the decision for theme parks to open this summer, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Though many shook their head at Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens reopening back in June, it was the recent reopening of Walt Disney World that got national attention this past July, with many damning the company for reopening during a global pandemic of which Florida is becoming the national epicenter. 

However, while much of this chatter online came from social media accounts, it looks like the people who are actually going to theme parks have their own opinion about the safety measures in place at some of the world's most popular destinations. 

Guests overwhelmingly feel safe at theme parks 

Last month Enigma Research conducted 1,000 exit surveys with guests visiting recently-reopened theme parks and other destinations including Disney Springs, The Fremont Street Experience, Navy Pier, Six Flags Over Texas, and Universal Orlando Resort. According to this limited study, 87 percent of guests enjoyed their overall experience, and a majority were pleased with the number of attractions operating at the scaled-back attractions.

However, perhaps most importantly, most guests seemed to appreciate the enforcement of rules in the theme parks, reacting favorably to safety precautions like face mask enforcement, physical distancing, and sanitization measures that have been newly enacted since the reopening. 

Image: Enigma Research

“This shows that it is possible to produce a safe and enjoyable live experience using the same precautions we all see in retail stores, transit systems, and other public areas,” said Michael Harker, a senior partner with Enigma. “On average, 81% agreed that the attraction they visited succeeded at keeping visitors safe during the pandemic.”

And though the survey only sampled a small slice of guests, 95% of respondents said they were likely to return and just as many would recommend the experience to their friends or relatives, which is good news, as parks like Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld are seeing record-low crowds, with SeaWorld Orlando even operating on a reduced schedule to try and save money on operating costs. 

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