To this point, we've kind of avoided getting into the "theme parks are going to open on such and such a date" conversation. And I'm not really going to get into that here.
I just wanted to do a quick post and tell you why theme park openings are not "imminent", despite 100 articles telling you they are.
Written by Gregg Condon
Update 5/20/2020: California Theme Parks
Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on May 6th. This order states that if you report to your employer's worksite between March 19th and July 5th, and get COVID-19, you can file a workers compensation claim.
So what do I think this means? The VERY EARLIEST parks could open in California would be July 15th. Why do I say that? Because you have to get the parks up and running. And with this order parks aren't going to want to bring in staff to train/get the parks ready until at least July 6th. Workers compensation claims aren't easy or cheap to file.
You can see all of the details about this executive order here.
Be sure to check out the rest of my opinions about theme parks opening from April below.
Imminent: ready to take place - happening soon
Even if parks in (insert state here) got the go ahead to start reopening today there is still a laundry list of things that must be done before they could actually open.
Rehiring of staff:
Staff has been furloughed in many cases, let go in others. Anybody with any kind of HR experience will tell you that it's much quicker to tell people to leave than to get them to come back. Some employees may be sick. Some may have gone home to stay with parents (WDW College Program anybody?). Some employees may simply feel that it's not safe for them to do so.
Hiring of new staff to replace staff that aren't coming back:
There will be some staff that aren't coming back. Some may have found other work. Others may just choose to stay away. That means hiring new people. Including background checks. Drug testing. You want to know how much stress medical labs are under right now? You think drug testing is their highest priority?
Retraining of existing staff:
Do you really want people coming back to work without having done that job for 2 months? What about the new guidelines they'll have to follow in order to actually reopen. That requires training. That means being in close contact with each other before the parks even open. And this doesn't even take into consideration training for the plethora of new attractions that are ready to open.
Training of new staff:
In addition to the retraining of existing staff, you have to train all of your new staff. But what if all of your trainers are busy training the existing staff in their new guidelines? Not a whole lot of time to do this.
You want to eat right? Food orders must be placed. But wait, food distribution for commercial businesses needs to restart too. I'm sure you've all seen the reports of crops being pretty much destroyed right now because there is no place to send this stuff. Or of the massive outbreaks of Covid-19 at meat processing plants. That's not something that is just going to ramp up quickly.
Testing of Rides:
Depending on the state, and how long the parks have been closed, some may require state inspection. Do you know how many inspectors there are? Are they going to actually be back at work? And what about those new rides? They must go through all of their testing and inspection guidelines prior to opening.
Right now the "preliminary" guidelines that came out for Florida parks are talking about 50% capacity in the parks. Do you know many businesses that can actually survive on 50% of their income? While paying all of their employees? And all of the other utilities that come along with running a theme park? Will it even be worth it for parks to open at reduced capacity?
Outbreak traced back to theme parks:
We've gone this far down and haven't even talked about the elephant in the room yet. What if, after let's say, Magic Kingdom opens and a mass outbreak is traced back to them. That is bad for the ENTIRE Theme Park industry. Consumer confidence is low right now. You get bad news out of a theme park and it goes even lower. Theme park companies know this.
Will people actually want to go?
At the end of the day, parks are going to do what they feel is best. And people are going to do what they feel is best. We're in a "theme park fan bubble". Where we are seeing our fellow fans eager to go back to the parks. But we are a very small percentage of overall attendance. Sure, we've seen people pack beaches over the past few weeks, but that's way cheaper than visiting a theme park. Will the "general public" actually feel safe going back to theme parks right now?
So when do I think parks are going to open? When we start getting emails from parks with dates they will open. That's when. Anything more than that right now is speculation.
But even when parks get the go-ahead to open, it doesn't mean they are going to open the next day. There is going to be a delay even then. And I think we all need to be prepared for that.
Share your thoughts below. Am I totally off-base here or am I making even a little bit of sense?