Masks a must: Six Flags shares what social distancing will look like at its parks -- including in San Antonio

Parks will use thermal imaging among other measures in effort to combat coronavirus spread

Six Flags
Six Flags (Six Flags)

HOUSTON – Though Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio isn’t opening yet, its parent company has announced what opening the theme park could look like.

In a news release, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation said everyone will have to wear masks to enter its parks and detailed plans to open Frontier City in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 5 -- with measures that it plans to expand to its other parks, presumably including the one in San Antonio.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has entered Phase II of reopening Texas, which includes reopening water parks, among other facilities on May 29. As of this writing, Six Flags has not announced when it will reopen its park in San Antonio.

In addition to requiring masks, the park said it will use online reservations to manage attendance, scheduling guests for entry by day and staggering arrival times.

The park explained it will also use thermal imaging for temperature checks, employ touchless bag checks, and expand mobile food ordering.

The company said in its news release that its plan -- developed with epidemiologist consultants -- “meets or exceeds federal, state, and local guidelines (and) sets standards for executing at the highest levels of hygiene and social distancing protocols.”

“Because our parks cover dozens or even hundreds of acres, we can easily manage guest throughput to achieve proper social distancing,” Six Flags president and CEO Mike Spanos is quoted as saying in the news release. “We have developed a comprehensive reopening safety plan that includes best practices from theme park and waterpark industry experts, along with top destination parks from around the world, which will allow guests to experience our parks in the safest possible way. This ’new normal’ will be very different, but we believe these additional measures are appropriate in the current environment.”

Here are a few promotional photos and a video released by Six Flags of what that “new normal” could look like:

Six Flags
Six Flags (Six Flags)
Six Flags
Six Flags (Six Flags)
Six Flags
Six Flags (Six Flags)

Here’s more detail on the measures directly from the Six Flags news release:

"Health Screenings for Guests and Team Members

• Contact-less IR thermal imaging will be used to screen temperatures of guests and employees prior to entry; and individuals will be asked if they are healthy and will be required to acknowledge the company’s health policies;

• All guests over the age of two and all team members will be required to wear face masks covering the nose and mouth throughout their visit/work day. Accommodations may be made on a case-by-case basis for persons with disabilities, health concerns, religious restrictions, or other circumstances that in Six Flags’ discretion warrant a modification of this face mask requirement; and

• Any guest without a mask will be able to purchase one at the front gate.

Strictly Enforced Social Distancing

• Easy to identify distance markers will be added in all park entry, ride, restroom, retail locations, and dining queue lines;

• Dining areas will be adjusted to allow ample space between seated parties;

• Guests will be separated by empty rows and/or seats on all roller coasters, rides, and attractions;

• Six-foot viewing areas will be marked for guests to observe game play; arcade games will be reconfigured or deactivated to comply with social distancing requirements;

• Advanced security screenings will enable touchless bag checks;

• Capacity at indoor venues will be reduced to meet social distancing requirements; and

• Guests viewing outdoor entertainment will be separated by at least six feet.

Extensive Sanitization and Disinfecting Protocols

• Trained and dedicated cleaning teams have been put in place;

• Increased sanitization and disinfecting of high touch points including all public seating, tabletops, counters, doors, and trash cans will occur frequently;

• Rides, restraints, and handrails will be cleaned throughout the day;

• Restroom staff will be stationed to disinfect each stall and sink area on a frequent basis;

• Multiple hand-washing and alcohol-based hand-sanitizer stations will be located throughout the park; and

• All team member work areas will be regularly sanitized and disinfected.

Sanitized Food Preparation and Service

• Modified menus and implementation of mobile food ordering will help facilitate touchless transactions;

• Self-service buffets and salad bars will be reconfigured to eliminate guest contact with food;

• Condiments, self-serve cutlery, and napkins will be provided to guests with their meals as required; and

• Beverages will be served by attendants, and guests will receive any drink bottle refills in a paper cup each time they refill.

Commercial-Grade Cleaning Equipment and Supplies

• All employees will be issued Team Member Action Packs which will include: a safety face mask, safety glasses, and disposable gloves;

• Low pressure backpack sprayers will be utilized for disinfecting large areas;

• Abundant supplies of sanitizers and disinfectants will be available;

• Microfiber cloths will be used to sanitize surfaces; and

• Queue line supplies, fencing, and tents will be in place to promote safe social distancing.

Multi-Layered Guest and Team Member Communication

• Frontline team members will go through extensive COVID-19 training;

• Safety messaging and reminders on Six Flags’ website, newsletters, in-park announcements, and recorded phone messages will occur frequently;

• Distance markers and physical distance indicators will be in place;

• Informational safety signage is posted throughout the park; and

• Handouts outlining guest screening processes and safety procedures will be distributed at the Toll Plaza.

Park Reservations System to Manage Attendance

Frontier City will be operating under state and local guidelines for crowd capacity limits. The park has established attendance caps that will be well below the park’s theoretical capacity in order to allow for proper social distancing. All Members, Season Pass holders and all guests with a single-day or group ticket will need to make a reservation at www.sixflags.com/reserve. The process will take 5-7 minutes, and guests will complete the following steps:

• Enter their online order number, ticket number or Membership/Season Pass number;

• Select the day and the approximate time they want to visit;

• Watch a brief video describing new social distancing and sanitization procedures;

• Acknowledge their understanding of the company’s health policy; and

• Order pre-paid parking, if they do not already have a parking pass.

Guests will be contacted electronically (either by email, text or both) the day before their scheduled visit to confirm their intent to visit and their continued healthy status. Guests may cancel their reservation without penalty any time before 8:00 a.m. (local time) on the day of their scheduled visit. Diamond and Diamond Elite Members will automatically be added to the priority waitlist, and all Members and Season Pass Holders will receive booking priority over single-day and group ticket buyers."

What do you think about the Six Flags plan? Let us know in the comments.

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