Updated June 22, 2020 - 5:41 pm
Eager parents and children waited in line for an hour of more Monday morning, eager to cut loose at the Wet ’n’ Wild water park after months of being cooped up at home due to the coronavirus.
Susan Weisse, 47, was first in line to enter the park with her two grandchildren, daughter-in-law and niece when the gates opened at 10 a.m. The family lined up around 9 a.m. and sweltered as temperatures climbed toward the daily high of 108 degrees, dreaming of the cool cabana Weisse had rented by Paradise Falls.
“We couldn’t take a chance on not coming in because the kids were so excited,” she said, adding that attending opening day at the park is a yearly tradition for the family. She was delighted to see that the park was not packed like it usually is.
“They are doing a good job with social distancing,” Weisse said.
Hundreds of others who streamed into the park had the same idea.
“It looks like people were dying to get out of the house,” said Tim Bowman, director of marketing. The park took measures to prevent the spread of the virus at the park and workers took the temperatures of patrons before they were allowed entry.
Water park-goers are given two chances to be within a reasonable temperature range to enter the park, and touchless dispensers of hand sanitizer were placed in high-trafficked areas, Bowman said.
Among other precautions, all employees were wearing face masks and gloves. Life jackets and slide tube and raft touch points will be disinfected after each use.
Guests, however, did not appear too diligent in following the safety guidelines. By afternoon, there appeared to be no patrons wearing masks, and many were not observing social distancing while waiting in lines.
The park was originally scheduled to reopen on April 4, but had to push it back amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.
Folks shouldn’t worry about the virus in the water because chlorine kills it, he added.
“There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread directly to humans from water in pools, hot tubs or spas, or water play areas,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Proper operation, maintenance and disinfection (for example, with chlorine or bromine) of pools, hot tubs or spas, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.”
The reopening of the park couldn’t have come at a better time, said John Matuz, who was there with his wife and year-old son. Matuz was looking some comfortable outdoor fun for his son.
Matuz said he was hopeful the park was clear of the virus.
“We will stay away from the crowds,” he said. “My only concern is the water … I figured opening day, it’s not that bad yet.”