Post-Covid Theme Park Predictions

It's hard to think of a life post-COVID. It's been a thing for so long now it has become second nature, and had such a huge impact of the world that life as we know it will be inevitably changed forever, even once things return to 'normal'. Theme parks included in that! History has a way of shaping itself off the back of devastating events, usually with innovation for the good during times where it was a choice of innovate now or fail, and COVID-19 is no different. So join me today as I theorise about some theme park predictions I think we may see as a direct result of the global pandemic.

The pandemic called for a lot of creative thinking, and fast, to help minimise fact-to-face contact when the time came for attractions to reopen. For attractions to operate safely, it was crucial to reduce these in-person contact points as much as possible to prevent the spread of the disease, and whilst this has felt a little unnatural with things like perspex screens at till points, this essentially just sped up what was already inevitably happening in terms of digital innovation. 

I'm talking things like purchasing tickets online, pre-booking tables at restaurants, contactless check-in at hotels, cashless payments within attractions. All of these were things most attractions were working towards anyway, all the virus did was speed things up so we're seeing a lot of this implemented ten times faster than we maybe would have done. And whilst I do lament those personal interactions with staff members, being able to purchase everything on my mobile and scan in at the touch of a button is an absolute dream compared with spending the first hour of your day queueing to exchange a cardboard coupon for a physical ticket to scan. I think given the huge benefit of these systems and the fact many of them were happening anyway, we will likely see continued momentum in the development of these digital projects for sure. 

Disney World is my main point of reference here. The Resort have come forward to confirm Park Passes, pre-booked tickets required to access the attractions alongside your paid for ticket, are here to stay for the forseeable. Ultimately this will help the parks better manage their operations as they'll have a clearer idea of who is coming, how many and when, so in the grand scheme of things this is a good thing. But for a big theme park holiday like the Orlando venture so many of us love, it's a little bittersweet. That holiday already requires so much planning and scheduling, with Fastpasses and dining reservations and boarding groups etc, to add this extra layer in feels a little pained. 

That said, I feel like it's one of those things that if it DOES indeed stick around for the long haul, we'll all eventually get used to and see the benefits of, to the point where we'll wonder how the Resort ever operated without it. 

One of my biggest pain points with the current situation is that we can't leave the country. As somebody who loves travelling and seeing new places this has by far been one of the most difficult and annoying parts of pandemic life, but it has its upsides too. As we're stuck here, many of us are spending a ton more time in our local regional or family-owned park than we maybe would usually, and as a result these smaller parks are experiencing a well-deserved boom of business after sadly being closed for so many months. 

And with a great summer that will hopefully spill over into the latter part of the season too, we can hopefully look forward to seeing some of that well-earned cash pumped back into these local attractions in the form of exciting new attractions and events in an attempt to carry on that momentum and keep us coming back for more. These smaller parks work so hard to provide fantastic fun days out year after year so it's so wonderful to see them all doing so well after such horrendous, turbulent times. 

Another business sector who've been laughing this summer are local short break companies and the Visit England roster as a whole. Again, because we're not able to holiday abroad this year many of us are turning to local holiday spots instead, and the Butlins, Pontins and AirBnBs of this world are rightly hiking up their prices to make the most of their captive market. 

Those attractions who maybe don't have such accommodation/short break offerings available are likely kicking themselves that they're not able to capitalise on this phenomenon too, so my prediction is that we'll see more attractions investing in short break offerings. Over the past few years we've seen a lot of zoos here in the UK enter this sector, so given we will now have a whole demographic of people who will likely develop a taste for holiday-at-home given the current situation it makes sense to me that we'll potentially see more follow suit. 

Something interesting we've been able to see in play is what attractions are like when we have less crowds, and of course when there's less bodies around it's generally a more pleasant atmosphere. I mentioned it above with Disney World and their pre-booking to help better manage their operations, but something else I think we'll likely see in order to help with continuation of crowd-control measures is more increased pricing. It's one thing to offer a great value day out, but if an uncomfortable number or people decide to take up that offer at what point are you sacrificing experience for value? 

I think this premise will lead to some interesting pricing choices for attractions globally moving forwards, and we've already seen some repercussions of this with Disneyland in California sunsetting their Annual Pass programme. Being forced into operating with smaller crowds has opened so many eyes to the benefits of reduced crowd levels so I believe we'll see some interesting, tactical pricing initiatives aimed at optimising revenue without sacrificing on experience. I'm really intrigued to see how this one develops, particular for the Disneys and Universals of this world!


So what do you think? Are there any changes brought about by COVID-19 that you're grateful for in the parks? What's a measure you can't wait to see the back of? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,