Well ... what a ride it's been since the the theme parks reopened (after temporary closures due to to COVID-19). The theme parks are close to operating as normal, with more and more entertainment returning. Character hugs are back. Masks are mostly optional with some exceptions at some parks. But this does not mean we can give up on supporting our family's health and wellness in theme parks.
People are more concerned than pre-pandemic about how to stay healthy in theme parks. But the bottom line is that we should always be practicing good health and wellness in the parks. Sickness is the souvenir nobody wants to bring home from their vacation! Theme parks have many visitors from all around the world, which can mean exposure to germs. That means taking steps to protect our own families and protecting others, as well, by not visiting when we don’t feel well. Here are a few tips that you can put into use when traveling and visiting theme parks.
Follow these tips to stay safe in theme parks during the pandemic and for your general health now and in the future.
Tips for Practicing Good Health and Wellness in the Theme Parks
There’s nothing better for washing germs away than good old soap and water. Disneyland recently posted signs advising guests to wash for at least 20 seconds. Come up with a song to sing while you wash! Fun fact: Maui's rap from "You're Welcome" lasts the recommended 20 seconds (thanks for the tip, Dwayne Johnson!). All the theme parks still have additional hand sanitizers throughout the parks and theme park shopping districts.
Bring Masks, Tissues, Disinfectant Wipes, Hand Wipes and Hand Sanitizer
If a bathroom is inconvenient, use some wipes and hand sanitizer to clean up. You especially want to clean hands before eating. Think of all the seatbelts and railings your kids have touched before you hand them food. If you can't wash hands, wipes and hand sanitizer will do. You should avoid touching your face — eyes, nose and mouth in particular. But anyone with a toddler knows that’s nearly impossible for little ones to follow, so your next step is to keep those hands as clean as you can. You can also use wipes to wipe down surfaces of tables when dining.
Face covering rules change all the time. That's why we put all the theme park mask guidelines for SoCal and Orlando in one post. We update it as soon as a park changes its rules. Hop there before you visit so you know what to expect. Be sure to pack extra masks if you'll need them because you'll want to swap out dirty or sweaty masks throughout the day. We seem to have a knack for losing masks or breaking straps, so we are always hoppy to have extras.
Avoid Touching Things
Keep an eye on your little ones. They put their mouth on everything, and they touch everything and then put fingers in their mouths, introducing germs right into their body. Keeping tadpoles in strollers and carriers can limit their access to hand rails and door handles. Pay attention when you are on rides, too, as it can hoppen in the blink of an eye. Babies touch everything so quickly!
Also, plan for contactless payments in some parks. Some parks, such as Knott's Berry Farm, have gone cashless. Bring other forms of payment besides cash (or convert cash to cards at kiosks). Get set up for mobile ordering where available by downloading park apps and adding credit cards in advance.
Bring Your Own Stroller
You can reduce your tadpole’s exposure to germs by bringing your familiar stroller. The stroller also acts as a barrier between your baby and the rest of the park. Keep your tadpoles' hands busy with bubble wands as you stroll so they aren’t tempted to reach out and touch other surfaces. Attach a pacifier clip to your child's clothing so the pacifier never falls to the ground. Bring toys that attach the stroller so they do not end up on other surfaces. Read on for tips on using a stroller at Disneyland and Disney World.
Refrain from Visiting When You Don’t Feel Well
Practicing good health and wellness in the parks means being considerate of others too. You don’t want to share your germs, so opt out of visiting if you have any illness so you can avoid infecting others and wearing yourself out. Be sure to cover your coughs and sneezes, even if they are from allergies. Give your elbow a good dab move to keep those germs contained. Stay home if you have a fever. Some stomach bugs are still contagious for up to three days after you stop vomiting, so give it a few days before you return to the parks.
Start your day with a good breakfast. Keep your immunity up by eating plenty of fruits, veggies and protein while in the park. You’ll have better energy (not to mention your mood!) if you eat nutritious foods instead of filling up on sugar and other junk. While we love our theme park snacks, we do follow guidelines for healthy eating at Disneyland and other theme parks. Just remember to wash or sanitize your hands before you eat!
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Bring reusable water bottles and stay hydrated. If you wear a mask, don't let it keep you from drinking frequently. A well-hydrated body can best fight off illness. We are seeing more water bottle filling stations around the parks, especially in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort. You can always get free ice water from restaurants.
Use Sun Protection
Wear hats, sunglasses and sunscreen to protect your skin. Remember to reapply! We bring a small umbrella to shade us as we wait for parades and outdoor shows.
Avoid Overheating or Getting Chilled
Dress in layers so you keep your body from getting too hot or too cold. Take breaks in the heat and add a sweatshirt when nights turn chilly. Don't go on that water ride in the late afternoon in the winter. On rainy days, bring an umbrella, raincoat and waterproof shoes or boots with you.
Bring Medications and Inhalers with You, Including Motion Sickness Prevention
Don't froget to pack any health essentials you'll need! Bring those allergy meds, other medications you take, insulin supplies and inhalers with you when you visit. Bring pain relievers and bandages. Melatonin (and a sleep mask or ear plugs) can help you sleep better in the hotel too.
If you are prone to motion sickness, bring whatever aids help you to prevent it or relieve it with you. If you turn green in the park, try drinking ginger ale or Coke and finding a cool, shady area to rest. Visit First Aid if you need to. Avoid fried or acidic foods, and stick to bland food such as crackers and bread. I find that taking my medication the night before we visit the park works best to prevent motion sickness the next day.
Visit First Aid When Injured or Not Feeling Well
If you do not feel well, hop into First Aid. First Aid gives you a place to rest, provides over-the-counter meds or refers you for more serious treatment. If you fall down, the nurses can clean your wounds, provide antibiotic ointment to prevent infection, give you bandages and provide ice. You want to keep your wound clean, in addition to keeping your bodily fluids to yourself. You can usually get a single does of pain reliever or other meds at First Aid for free. If you need more than one dose, the cashiers in stores usually have a supply of basic medications for sale behind the counter.
Protect Your Back
Carrying the family's supplies — those water bottles, snacks, sweatshirts, cameras, umbrellas and more — can take a toll on your body. Put heavy (but replaceable) items in the stroller to protect your back. You can also rent a locker to store items you do not need at the moment.
Know Any Health Condition Restrictions Before You Ride
Some rides are not safe for pregnant women or people with heart or back conditions. Some rides cause motion sickness. Read the safety information before you hop in line. Not every ride is right for every person, and that's toadally OK.
Rent a Wheelchair When Necessary
If you have a chronic illness, are recovering from a long illness or have a disability that can wear you out more easily than others, you can save yourself from overdoing it by renting a wheelchair or ECV. Theme parks involve lot more walking than you might do at home. You can prevent falls from people bumping into you or overtiredness, and avoid standing for long periods. You don’t have to use it the whole day, but it can keep you safe and make your day more manageable. Have an upcoming trip and thinking about renting a wheelchair? Hop over to these posts:
- Using a Wheelchair at Disneyland
- Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood
- Guide to Using a Wheelchair or ECV at Disney World
Ask for Help When You Need Assistance
Every theme park has programs in place to help make the parks accessible for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. These programs can help people who have trouble waiting in a standard queue. Whether someone in your group has cognitive disabilities, mobility issues, health issues or disabilities that are not visible, hop over to this guide to visiting the Southern California theme parks and zoos with special needs for guidance on staying healthy in the parks. Or check out even more blog posts about disability travel. At Disney, the programs have recently changed to allow Disability Access Service (DAS) users the ability to select return times in the park's app.
Wear Proper Footwear
Protect those toes and toenails by wearing closed-toed shoes and socks that wick moisture. Bring moleskin or bandages if you are prone to forming blisters. We find hot weather and water rides to lead to more issues with our feet. Getting your toes stepped on or run over by a stroller can certainly put a damper on your day. If you have a multi-day trip, bring a different pair of shoes that you can switch out to save your feet.
At Disneyland Resort, the adults in our household found a new foot saver. We make a reservation to hop into the Tenaya Stone Spa at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for a foot massage during our trip. It's heaven and keeps us hopping! If you can splurge on a back massage to, you will not regret it.
Expect That the Parks May Operate Differently
All theme parks have implemented changes to keep guests and employees healthy during the time of COVID-19. Hop over to our posts on Walt Disney World Reopening Disneyland Reopening, and Universal Orlando Reopening reopen to see what measures have been put in place there to keep guests safe. Most theme parks have almost returned to normal. The biggest change is that not all entertainment may have returned.
In general, you'll see more hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations throughout the parks. Most of the physical distancing measures, Plexiglass and mask rules have been dropped. The parks are still sanitizing frequently touched surfaces. You may encounter different procedures in your hotel stays, such as contactless advance check-in and modified experiences there.
We hope you’ve found these easy tips for practicing good health and wellness in the parks hopful. Stay healthy out there, and be sure to share any tips your family follows for good health and wellness in the parks in the comments below.