In theme park news this week, Disney followed Universal’s lead, again, and Seaworld lost a bid to buy a chain of theme parks.
Disney Follows Universal’s Mask Policy
Universal Orlando Resort announced this week that its revamped mask policy would loosen rules for those who have been fully vaccinated.
“Here are the latest safety updates for your visit.
Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests. For guests who have not been vaccinated, face coverings are encouraged while indoors – including restaurants, shops and indoor hotel public areas.
We do not require proof of vaccinations
We remain focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards” – Universal Orlando
The prior policy enacted during the rise of the omicron variant had been that all guests, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks in any line queue (indoor or outdoor) as well as anywhere indoors. This move no longer requires those who are fully vaccinated to mask anywhere on-site nor does it ask for proof of vaccination. There was no mention of boosters in either policy.
Disney, who has been copying and pasting Universal Orlando’s policy changes for months, announced its own changes:
“Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated Guests in both outdoor and indoor locations. We expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters. Face coverings are still required by all Guests (ages 2 and up) on enclosed Disney transportation, including Disney buses, monorails, and Disney Skyliner.” – Disney
Disney mask policy has differed in the past from Florida to California as did muncipal and state regulations. However, this particular change aligns both Disney Parks on face mask policy. California, at the time of reopening theme parks declared that guests shouldn’t scream on roller coasters, so to say there were material differences between the states and parks would be an understatement.
The wink and nod from Universal (and subsequently, Disney) is that they trust their guests that if they are not wearing a mask it is because they are fully vaccinated, no need to trust and verify with paperwork.
SeaWorld Attempts to Buy Cedar Point, Loses
In other theme park news, SeaWorld attempted to buy Cedar Fair, home to a number of smaller theme parks across the country including Knott’s Berry Farm, and California’s Great America in California, and the namesake park, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
The $3.4bn offer placed a small premium on FUN, the company’s publicly-traded stock, from it’s market cap of about $3.2bn prior. The Cedar Fair board rejected the buyout offer. Seaworld, which no longer uses captured and trained marine life in shows, is looking to diversify its park holdings. It will have to look elsewhere for the time being.
Universal has become the leader for theme park policies and Disney is playing catch up. What’s become clear is that mask policy is now based on public sentiment rather than science. Perhaps it always was. Still, today there are more than 100,000 COVID cases (though declining from peaks weeks ago), and daily death counts that rival some of the worst days of the pandemic. SeaWorld may again try to buy Cedar Fair (a smart purchase) but will need to make a more substantial offer to turn the board.
What do you think?