Alton Towers has released its plans for preparing to reopen and has offered an insight into what a trip to the park may look like once lockdown has been lifted.
As the UK looks to enter into the next phase of loosening lockdown restrictions at the start of next month, the Staffordshire theme park has announced it is “watching these first steps back into normality closely”.
It has been confirmed that the Alton Towers management team has been reviewing its entire operation for the past few weeks and are planning the changes that the resort needs to make, so that when it does reopen, it can do so in a way that keeps both guests and employees safe, as well as ensuring it delivers a great day out.
Alton Towers temporarily closed its gates to the public until further notice back in March amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and has remained closed for 10 weeks now.
In a statement via the Alton Towers website, Health, Safety & Security Director, Jonathan Ellis, said: The whole point of Alton Towers, our very reason for being, is to provide a place where families and friends can share amazing experiences.”
“In the era of COVID-19, there is no doubt the guest experience will be different.”
“But what we do have is lots and lots of space, a culture that has safety at its very core and a team this is absolutely obsessed with delivering fantastic experiences for our guests.”
Mr Ellis has revealed that staff at Alton Towers, which is part of the Merlin Entertainments group, have benefited from monitoring the situation of sister-parks in other countries, where lockdown restrictions and guidelines have already begun loosening.
“We are fortunate to be able to learn from the experience of our colleagues in attractions that are already open, and make sure that we implement the changes in a way that works best for our guests and for our employees” he said.
Although no set date has been confirmed for reopening, the park has detailed some of the changes that guests can expect to see when they make their next trip:
Restricted Numbers & Advanced Booking
As part of its “phased reopening”, Alton Towers will place strict limits on both the initial number of guests who can visit the park each day, as well as individual attractions and facilities within the resort. This is to “best maintain social distancing in all areas of the resort, whilst making sure that guests can enjoy the same number of rides and attractions as they would normally expect to”.
In order to stick to these limits, a system of advanced online booking is being considered.
At present, this is still a work in progress, but the resort has vowed to keep the public up to date on this matter via its website and social channels.
Temperature Checks & Health Monitoring
Alton Towers will be asking all staff and guests to monitor their own health to help minimise the spread of the virus. If someone feels unwell, has a temperature or a cough, they should not travel to the resort.
“As always, our focus is on prevention rather than the cure.”
It has also been confirmed that, whilst it is not in their intentions to turn anyone away, they will also be conducting temperature checks on all employees and guests that arrive at the resort and if someone arrives with a temperature that is too high, they will not be allowed to enter.
Should this be the case, the resort will “gladly rebook your visit when convenient and at no additional cost”.
Social Distancing Measures
Alton Towers is currently reviewing what it classes as several “pinch points” around the park.
This is where large numbers of people have been known to gather in groups and is in the process of “installing spatial markers in these spots, including the admissions plaza and all queue lines for rides and attractions, food and retail outlets”.
When it comes to rides, visitors can expect to see reduced numbers and guests will be batched in family groups, with empty seats or rows between different groups, to ensure a safe distance.
“Whilst we hope that by limiting guest numbers we will still be able operate the vast majority of our attractions, we are monitoring this and our approach may evolve in line with further government guidance.”
More information about specific attractions will be posted on the Alton Towers website prior to opening.
Enhanced Hygiene & Protective Clothing
Alton Towers is encouraging guests to wash their hands regularly during their trip and is in the process of installing dozens of hand sanitiser dispensers around the resort, including at the entry and exit points for most rides and attractions.
“Our teams will also wipe down any surface that is frequently touched at regular intervals through-out the day, with communal areas (like toilet facilities) being deep cleaned every night.”
Theme park staff will be issued with protective clothing, including face masks and gloves, to help keep themselves and guests safe. In line with government guidance at present, Alton Towers “will leave it up to guests to decide if they want to wear masks, but they are welcome to do so if they please”.
All processes are currently under review to try to minimise close contact between employees and guests.
It has also been confirmed that all Alton Towers staff will receive thorough and specific COVID-19 training prior to the park opening its gates once again.
For more information, please refer to the official reopening plans on the Alton Towers website.