This blog post was updated on September 28, 2020.

It’s no secret that the rules of traveling and tourism have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Travelers now need to adopt new habits and follow new protocols to stay healthy and avoid illness. That’s no more apparent as theme parks and attractions reopen across the United States, even before the pandemic has ended in many places. In essence, we’re now starting to see the rules and “new normal” of post-COVID-19 tourism  — with COVID-19 still raging.  And there’s no clear idea when, or if, the new way of doing things caused by one of the greatest global health crises in generations will go back to the old way of doing things.

So, with that in mind, here’s a look at just how those heading back to parks and attractions can ensure their experiences are not only still magical, but also safe.

Masks Are Essential

Face coverings are key for staying healthy if you’re going out into a public setting. According to the CDC, they are the most effective safety tool for guests in situations where social distancing may be difficult or unpredictable. A cloth face mask can keep the wearer from spreading any germs they may unknowingly be carrying. And full compliance on a large scale can greatly reduce the virus from spreading. Fortunately, if guests forget masks, the bigger theme parks and attractions (as well as several smaller ones) should have complimentary ones on hand or available for purchase. The CDC recommends cloth face masks for general public use and not surgical masks/medical PPE to ensure that the latter remain reserved for healthcare workers.

It’s important to note that it is strongly recommended that children under 2 years old not wear masks. So, it may be safer for families to leave their littlest members at home.

A few other things to remember for wearing a mask:

Always wash your hands before and after you’ve handled your mask, like when you’re putting it on or taking it off, and only try to touch it by the straps that go behind your ears or around your head.

Have a clean, resealable plastic bag to house your mask when you’re not using it.

Try to wash your mask once a day with soap or detergent and (preferably) hot water.

Hand Sanitizer Is Your Friend

The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer any time an interaction is made with someone outside your own party or with a foreign surface. While most parks will certainly have sanitizing stations at most entry points, concession stands, bathrooms, and attractions, you should definitely still bring your own sanitizer so you can keep it handy at all times. Any sanitizer used should also contain at least 60% percent alcohol to be effective in killing germs.

It’s also important to remember to wash your hands whenever possible, even if you’ve been using hand sanitizer regularly. According to the CDC, hand washing is more effective at eliminating germs. Also, they say hand sanitizer should only be used instead of soap and water in situations when hand washing is not possible.

Take Advantage of Virtual Lines & Contactless Payment

The less shared surfaces and touchpoints, the better. Several theme parks, including the Happiest Place on Earth, are allowing visitors to stay digitally updated on how long the wait is for a ride and even reserve times to ride. The idea is to help reduce how long guests physically spend in lines, where keeping six feet of distance is usually more challenging. Additionally, contactless payment options are also extremely helpful in limiting exposure for customers wanting to buy food, drink, or merchandise.

Many parks allow guests to utilize these features via their own smartphone apps. So you’ll probably have to download one ahead of time and may even want to invest in a portable power bank to charge your phone with stopping to find an outlet.

Have you already been back to a theme park or tourist attraction in 2020? Want to tell us about your travel experience in the era of coronavirus? Leave it in the comments section below!

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About The Author

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned internet word person, whose work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. He is currently the Senior Content Writer at Fareportal (CheapOair's parent company) and spends his free time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden.