New survey says Americans are embracing reopened theme parks despite COVID-19

by Attractions Magazine Staff

An independent survey has found that guests visiting America’s first reopened attractions and theme parks enjoyed their experiences, felt safe, and would recommend their experience to others.

theme parks
Photo by Kent Phillips for Walt Disney World Resort

In late June, Enigma Research conducted 1,000 exit surveys with guests visiting recently-reopened theme parks and other attractions nationwide, including Disney Springs, The Fremont Street Experience, Navy Pier, Six Flags Over Texas, and Universal Orlando Resort.

The study found that, despite new safety precautions and rules, 87 percent of guests enjoyed their overall experience, and three-quarters were pleased with the number of attractions operating at the scaled-back attractions. In addition, most guests observed that safety precautions like face mask enforcement, physical distancing, and sanitization were well-executed by management.

“This shows that it is possible to produce a safe and enjoyable live experience using the same precautions we all see in retail stores, transit systems, and other public areas,” said Michael Harker, a senior partner with Enigma. “On average, 81 percent agreed that the attraction they visited succeeded at keeping visitors safe during the pandemic.”

theme parks
Image courtesy of Enigma Research

Since this survey was conducted independently, it asked some very direct questions related to virus transmission that attraction managers or their lawyers would be hesitant to ask. Based on what guests observed in the parks, 13 percent felt that they would have been highly likely to catch the virus if others in attendance had been carriers. However, when asked further, most in this group said it was due to other guests not following safety precautions, and very few blamed management.

Many respondents to the survey appreciated the strict enforcement of rules, while a few complained that staff were constantly reminding them to wear masks, even if they only removed them for just a moment. The evidence of strict enforcement was a good sign, according to researchers.

While they aren’t disease specialists, Enigma’s consultants speculated that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is unlikely due to the theme parks and attractions reopening.

“People do a better job following instructions at live entertainment venues than in other places. Not only are they accustomed to lineups and rules, they often pay a high admission and do not want to be ejected by security.”

As long as authorities allow these attractions to stay open, there will be no shortage of demand from theme park fans. According to the survey, 95 percent of respondents said they are likely to return, and just as many would recommend the experience to their friends or relatives.

The independent study was distributed to organizations and trade associations in the live entertainment sector. The five attractions that were surveyed were not involved in the data collection. Harker hopes that these positive findings will encourage more live experiences to reopen their doors.

“It was disappointing to hear last week that the State Fair of Texas will not open in September yet, across town, Six Flags Over Texas has already been delivering safe, positive experiences for a month,” said Harker. “We believe that many live events can open safely if they provide the same precautions as the attractions we surveyed.”

To learn more about Enigma Research, visit EnigmaResearch.com.

You can read about our personal experiences visiting the newly-reopened theme parks in Central Florida by clicking on the links below:

Universal Orlando theme parks officially reopen – Here’s what we experienced

We wore a mask all day in the hot sun at a theme park; Here’s our experience and advice

SeaWorld Orlando majorly improves COVID-19 operations

We visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom on its first preview day; Here’s what we saw


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