If there’s an industry that’s been beaten up even worse by the COVID-19 lockdown than theaters, it’s got to be the theme parks. The pandemic shutdown orders started coming in just as most of America’s rollercoaster sanctuaries were gearing up for their summer openings, sending them spiraling into a limbo where they’d occasionally pop their heads out to say, “Hey, maybe?” before a bunch of mean ol’ public health officials gave a resounding, terrified “God, no!”
But no longer: Universal Orlando has announced that it thinks it’s got this “jamming thousands of people into a confined space and then making them sweat and scream on each other for six hours” thing down to a science. Per THR, the Florida-based park has just announced that it’s opening for the year on June 5, complete with new standards designed to minimize contact between park-goers, lots of new sanitation guidelines, and a cheerful reminder that you’re taking your life into your own hands by attending. Fun!
“Note that any public location where people are present provides an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit,” the company’s web site notes, reminding us that, verily, we are all dust on the wind—but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to ride Kang & Kodos’ Twirl & Hurl. The park is the first major theme park to nail down its plans to re-open, and has apparently gotten approval for the move from the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, a group of governmental officials that we like to imagine as being made up entirely of the mayor who gets everybody eaten in Jaws.
Safety provisions for the re-opening park include mandatory temperature checks for park employees before they sign on for the day, reduced admission rates, and the shuttering of those “mist areas” they use to keep people from getting heat stroke on hot summer days and which are, we can only assume, the happiest place on Earth for a virus on the go. They’ll also be requiring all guest to wear masks in the park, which means we are, *checks calendar,* exactly 14 days from the first internet videos of an angry middle-aged man choking a teen in a Woody Woodpecker costume because he asked him to put on a goddamn mask. Meanwhile, news that Disney is gearing up for a similar re-opening—complete with chiseling the message “Memento Mickey” into the gates above the entrance—remain merely apocryphal as we go to press.