Zamperla, a leading ride manufacturer, is sharing the results of recent research on amusement parks as a cure for stress in the wake of the global pandemic.
Zamperla is pleased to share the findings of two researchers, published in a recent paper called “Amusement Parks – a Non-Conventional but Effective Measure Against Stress from COVID-19.” In this paper, the researchers, Dr Stefania Cerino and Gianni Chiari, explore how amusement parks can be a valuable way of fighting the depression and stress that people have been feeling as a result of COVID-19.
Cerino is a specialist in psychiatry and clinical criminology and a researcher in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation and Chiari is an ANCASVI technical secretary and member of the main international technical committees that set out safety standards for the entire attractions sector (CEN, ASTM and ISO).
Together, they have found that those parks which have reopened with stringent and trusted safety procedures against the spread of the virus can be an important tool for mental wellbeing.
In 2012, a division of Zamperla was founded to support the themes of inclusiveness and make amusement parks accessible to all people with special needs. This division, which includes technicians, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and specialists from different sectors, is promoting this recent study.
“We have all been overwhelmed by the events and we have been thrown into a silent and empty world due to the lockdown; which distanced us from work, from affections, from moments of fun and left great perplexities about the future,” says Dr Cerino.
“The social isolation that COVID-19 forced us to have, has had many repercussions on general well-being. Apart from the most serious situations…a series of difficulties in people’s daily lives have also emerged, such as situations of discomfort, feelings of inadequacy and emptiness, anxiety and worries of various kinds.
“The research of the Order of Psychologists (Istituto Piepoli – September 2020) which detects high stress in 34% of the Italian population, stress related to the Coronavirus emergency (57%), economic condition (44%), work situation (37%). It is therefore clear that a lot of “positive” energy will be needed to face the post lockdown phase.”
Theme parks as a cure
According to Cerino and Chiari’s research, amusement parks with rides and attractions represent a place where dreams come true. Throughout history, fun has been an essential part of society, and Johan Huizinga, in an essay entitled “Homo Ludens”, sets out how important play and the pleasure connected to it is, saying that play is “the symptom of a door opening, a possible relationship with the whole”.
Much research has been conducted on the relationship between fun and wellbeing. And, in this post-COVID world, wellbeing is a concept which should not be neglected. Stress, anxiety, and depression can benefit from the experience of positive emotions, and fun experiences allow people to achieve greater emotional stability and, consequently, greater resources to deal with everyday life by reducing stress levels (Shang-Ti Chen 2020).
“The amusement parks, born between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are the heirs of the medieval mercantile fairs and have then evolved over time thanks to technological development, ending today to represent spaces where dreams, wonder and fantasy can materialize into positive emotions and wellbeing experiences,” says Chiari.
“Going to the amusement park means immersing yourself in a magical atmosphere, in a refined environment, where you can share pleasant moments with your family and other people, in a unifying dimension that is not easy to experience in everyday life. The Park is a place for the whole family, for people of all ages, who can both use the attractions and simply experience the atmosphere.”
Amidst the stress and worry of the pandemic, playful spaces such as theme parks have been missed. Now, there is a need for this type of fun experience to counteract the negative impact of COVID-19. The positive emotions caused by a safe, socially-distanced attraction can have a strong psychological effect. helping as people being to recover and rebuild after the crisis.
“My company has always been involved in entertainment, joy and laughter,” says Alberto Zamperla, President of Zamperla. “There is no attraction that is not accompanied by the pleasant sound of the excited and amused voices of the public and not a day goes by in which our staff is not busy designing magical or adrenaline-pumping, romantic or adventurous experiences.
“At the same time, the whole sector, that is, amusement builders and park operators, has developed very high skills in terms of safety and quality and it is this experience that has allowed the representatives of our industry to contribute to the design of safe procedures to counter the spread of COVID-19.
“Parks can be safe and can reopen all over the world; welcoming people to entertain them and to make them ‘get away from worries’ as suggested by the Cerino-Chiari analysis. Even before the pandemic, we have started to realize the importance of fun, kindness, talent and dreams. We have not surrendered to disability; making our attractions increasingly inclusive and accessible, it will certainly not be COVID-19 that will stop us.”
Zamperla also recently launched its new Wash-Through Ride System, designed to help attractions keep guests safe as they reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic.