After being temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of Japan's theme parks are gradually being reopened in stages - often first to people within the prefecture, then to neighboring prefectures, and finally to all.
Popular theme parks in or near Tokyo, such as Yomiuriland and Fuji-Q Highland, are gradually resuming operations. And on Wednesday, July 1, Tokyo Disneyland/Tokyo Disney Sea is expected to reopen, with restrictions on the number of visitors and some events suspended.
The East Japan/West Japan Amusement Park Association and supporting companies* have established joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of coronavirus.
In order to help you know what to expect when visiting Japan after coronavirus, we have picked up some of the main points from these guidelines below and will outline what is expected of both park operators and visitors to parks.
(*) Supporting companies include The Oriental Land Company, Sanrio Entertainment, USJ, Tokyo Summerland, Tokyo Dome, Hanayashiki, Fuji-Q Highland, Yokohama Hakkeijima, Yomiuriland
Temperature of 37.5℃ or above? Recently arrived in Japan?
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In the guidelines, as the "Basic way of thinking to prevent infection," the following points are expected of park operators:
(1) Pay attention to the health management of all people involved in the amusement park/theme park, including visitors and employees;
(2) Maintain a hygienic environment by strengthening cleaning and disinfection measures for the use of various facilities and equipment;
(3) Maintain a physical distance (social distance) of 1m or more (preferably 2m) and ensure proper ventilation.
To help reduce the risk of infection, the number of visitors allowed into a theme park is being limited for the time being. As visitors are entering a park, body temperatures will be measured, and if a guest has a fever of 37.5°C or above, or presents other symptoms of illness, they will not be allowed to enter the park.
Also, to further reduce infection risk, people who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus infection, and people who have entered Japan within the past 14 days (during which period a self-quarantine is mandated), will be declined entry.
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Before entering the park, both visitors and employees are encouraged to wear a mask or face shield, and periodic handwashing or use of hand sanitizer is recommended.
As for masks, both visitors and employees may remove the masks if they can secure a sufficient distance (of at least 2m) with people outdoors, to help during the high summer temperatures and humidity.
Don't scream while enjoying attractions
After donning your mask and entering the park, there are a few other things that are asked of visitors, especially. One is not to speak loudly with others. And another is to enjoy attractions like roller coasters - but without screaming. The video below, produced by Fuji-Q Highland, demonstrates this concept of "enjoying the thrill, quietly" a little more clearly.
As mentioned before, you may be asked to sanitize your hands before boarding an attraction.
Additionally, for indoor attractions, like haunted houses, people are asked to maintain as much distance from others as possible, given circumstances.
Pay with a card instead of cash
Rides are just part of the fun! Shopping is another exciting thing that theme park visitors look forward to. But even here, there are points to mind.
Tasting food samples and using product samples is a no-go. Before (and after) using a capsule toy machine (gacha-gacha) or other surfaces that others are likely to use, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands.
And as another point to help reduce the spread of infection, use credit and other cashless payment as much as possible.
Sit sideways as much as possible when eating and drinking
For areas selling food and drinks, paying via credit card (or other cashless method) is recommended - just as with shops. When eating or drinking, it's best to avoid sitting in front of friends or family - and sit beside each other instead of facing each other directly.
If there are elderly people, infants, persons with disabilities, etc. with whom you are seated, and if you want to meet face-to-face, keep a distance of at least 1 to 2 meters between people and avoid sharing the space with other groups. It is recommended to use the sanitizer provided in the shop as appropriate.
Don't touch characters dressed in costume!
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In places where more than one person gathers at an event, try to keep a social distance of at least 1-2m. Also, refrain from cheering or yelling.
When you encounter a costumed character in the park, just take a photo and maintain a proper social distance. Try not to go over and touch or hug them.
Let's close the toilet lid in the bathroom
Especially in places used by a large number of people, such as bathrooms, hand-washing facilities, drinking fountains, smoking areas, etc., we have to be careful. In the bathroom, when a toilet lid is installed, close the cover first and flush afterward.
Mind the rules - and enjoy a safe time at Japan's theme parks!
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In addition to what has been mentioned above, each facility may have its own rules. Before heading to a theme park, be sure to check their website for the latest information. Also, the East Japan Amusement Park Association has released a website "Ouchi Amusement Park" where you can enjoy the atmosphere of an amusement park online at home.