While theme parks across Europe are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Belgian attraction, Bellewaerde, is already planning how to reopen smoothly and safely.
The management of the popular Belgian visitor attraction, Bellewaerde Amusement Park and Bellewaerde Aquapark, is preparing a plan of action ahead of a confirmed reopening date. Measures likely to be put in place include face masks, visitor number caps and distance markers.
“We are taking measures to keep the staff working safely and still provide visitors with an unforgettable day of fun and adventure,” said Bellewaerde spokesman Filip Van Dorpe. “Once the government provides more clarity about a possible opening date, we want to be sufficiently prepared to guarantee our visitors a pleasant and safe visit, without losing sight of the safety of our own people.”
Extra safety measures
Several new health and safety measures will be in place once the attractions are allowed to reopen. For example, face masks, social distancing rules and extra cleaning routines.
“We placed a group order for our masks for our employees,” said the spokesperson. “In order to bridge an initial opening period, more than 100,000 copies are on order.”
Similar to other attractions which are considering reopening, such as Kolmården Zoo in Sweden, the amusement park has a large outdoor area, making social distancing more achievable. The number of visitors to the park will initially be capped at 4,000, enabling visitors to spread out and keep a safe distance from others.
In addition to this, extra signage and markings will be in place throughout the park, helping visitors to keep their distance while queueing. “With this, we ensure sufficient distance between the visitors. For this reason, however, it will not be possible to have the Stunt & Dive Show or the meet & greets with King Lion,” says Van Dorpe.
Rubbing alcohol will be available for the public throughout the park, as well as at the entrance and exit of all attractions. Ride safety rails will be disinfected after every turn, and facilities such as restaurants and toilets will be increasing the frequency of cleaning routines throughout the day. Extra security personnel will also be patrolling the park to ensure that visitors comply with the new safety measures.
Safety a priority
“Safety has always been a top priority at Bellewaerde and this will be no different this season,” says Stefaan Lemey, General Manager at Bellewaerde. “We will make every effort to welcome visitors in a safe manner, taking into account the various measures.
“Last year we invested 17.5 million euros in Bellewaerde Aquapark and this year more than 7.5 million euros in our new attraction Wakala. This last investment was almost completed and we could therefore no longer put it on-hold. All contracts had been concluded for months, large advances had been paid and the attraction was already 90 per cent in early March.
“We lose almost €4 million in turnover in April alone. So we hope to be able to open the gates soon, so as a major employer here in the region to be able to get all our people out of unemployment, ”adds Lemey. “We hope that our visitors will be able to relax in one of our parks with family and friends in the coming months.”
Attractions in some parts of China are beginning to reopen, with extra safety measures in place. Meanwhile, theme parks in the West will be looking to Asia when planning to reopen, with Disney’s Bob Iger saying visitors may need to go through temperature checkpoints on entry.