Walibi Belgium Prepares to Reopen
Walibi Belgium, one of Belgium’s biggest amusement parks, has gotten the green light to re-open on the first of July after being closed for over three months. The park has prepared thoroughly to comply with the reopening rules of the government of Wallonia, which include one-way-only walking paths, a starting capacity for the park of 3,000 visitors that will increase over time, and strict hygiene standards. IAAPA EMEA visited the park to understand how these practices are being put into action.
Adapted Park Operations
To comply with the regulations, Walibi Belgium has been turned into a safe environment designed to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Guests have to sanitize their hands before and after entering every ride. If a guest is above 12 years of age, face masks are required during all rides and in the queues for indoor rides. While there are no temperature checks at the entrance of the park, guests who feel sick are asked to stay at home. The minimal required distance between visitors is marked in every queue and ride cars are filled per visitor group, leaving a row empty between different families.
Unlike some parks, Walibi Belgium won’t operate with different time slots during the day. To accommodate the maximum allowance of guests in the morning, a temporary queue is erected in the park parking lot. Guests will be required to purchase tickets online in advance, so they zigzag right through the closed ticket counters. For Aqualibi, the water park adjacent to Walibi Belgium, time slots will be the new norm however.
As the summer progresses, the capacity of the park will rise gradually.
Changes for Visitors
Guests will find they’re only allowed to walk in one direction on most paths of the park. Staff of Walibi will be placed on strategic points to remind guests of this obligation, though the goal is not to create a “police force” of the staff: Walibi’s aim remains to provide for a fun day out. Souvenir shops will have automated people counting technology—a screen will let guests know if they’re allowed to enter or the max capacity is reached. Annual passes and extensions of existing annual passes are not being sold temporarily.
While rides might run on reduced capacity to allow empty rows between family groups, queue lines are expected to stay short and bearable since the park’s capacity as a whole is much lower. Hygiene measures will be communicated in a fun way.
When visiting the Aqualibi water park, guests will be given a number for their changing room and a number for their locker rather than being allowed to choose these themselves. This way the park can help with keep distance between different families. Changing rooms are disinfected between every use and showers are required before entering the water park.
Changes for Employees
This season, staff has been trained through e-learning, while new staff members still receive tours through the park. Though the amount of visitors will be lower, more staff is needed to make sure all rules are followed such as groupers on many rides and stewards who guide guests in the right direction when walking on the one-way path.
In the restaurants, staff won’t switch between positions like they usually would to avoid cross contamination between individuals. For example, staff working on the cash desk will remain there throughout the day.
Communicating About Reopening
Walibi Belgium has focused on a global digital communications campaign and fortunately the reopening of Belgian theme parks have been widely covered by the press and most visitors are aware of opening day. Communication on social media and regular talks with the press have further helped raise awareness to the public.