Empty Rows on Roller Coasters and Temperature Screenings: Six Flags Unveils Future of Parks

From NJ.com

New Jersey thrill seekers can look to Oklahoma for a glimpse of theme parks’ surreal future.

Frontier City in Oklahoma City — one of 26 theme parks operated by Six Flags — is set to reopen on June 5 with a host of new safety guidelines put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The theme park company said New Jerseyans can expect to see similar guidelines put in place at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Six Flags said Frontier City visitors will be required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. That means empty rows and seats on roller coasters; snaking queue lines separated by six-foot interval markers; and snacks purchased online through a new mobile app.

Six Flags said that Frontier City would first open with limited capacity, and that restrictions on the number of guests in the park will be loosened over time. The guests that are allowed in will have to make reservations, so that the park can stagger arrival times to help spread people out.

All tickets will be purchased online in advance, with no option to buy at the gate. Temperature screening and touch-less bag checks will greet guests at the entrance.

“Frontier City, like all Six Flags parks, is an outdoor attraction that poses a significantly lower risk of exposure than indoor venues. Our guests are not confined to one space for lengthy periods," Six Flags President and CEO Mike Spanos said in a statement. "Guests move constantly throughout their experience; some are riding rides, some are eating in restaurants, while others are shopping in our souvenir stores, or playing games. Because our parks cover dozens or even hundreds of acres, we can easily manage guest throughout to achieve proper social distancing.”

Six Flags has already made clear that the restrictions put in place at Frontier City will be replicated at the company’s other parks, including Six Flags Great Adventure, as they reopen.

“During COVID-19, safety is a shared responsibility with our guests, so we will be asking them to work with us to promote a safe and fun environment,” said Kristin Fitzgerald, a Six Flags Great Adventure spokesperson.

It is still unclear when Six Flags Great Adventure will reopen its theme park or Hurricane Harbor water park.

“We are in readiness mode, awaiting updates from our state and local governments,” Fitzgerald said.

Six Flags is confident that its guests will follow the new rules whenever Great Adventure does reopen, Fitzgerald said, adding that safety is a partnership between the park and its visitors. She noted that as part of the online reservation process, guests will have to agree to adhere to the new policies.

“We feel confident that those who are making plans to come to the park understand what’s required and will work with us by following our new safety guidelines,” Fitzgerald said. "If we do experience any issues while in the park, we will simply speak to the guest.”

There is some action coming soon to the Jackson theme park. The 350-acre safari, which features 1,200 animals, is reopening for drive-thru visitors on Saturday. It’ll be the first time since 2012 that guests can drive their own cars along the five-mile route.

Gov. Phil Murphy previously signed an executive order that allows for drive-thru entertainment to reopen.

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