I have passes to most of the theme parks in the area, so my daughter and I have been checking the various places out lately. Yesterday (June 22) we finally hit Busch Gardens Tampa, which is a little over an hour from where I live. I had heard some reports that they were not doing the best job of keeping Coronavirus at bay, so we thought that we would wait a few days after the June 11 opening to give them a chance to work out the problems.
Sadly, Busch Gardens Tampa did not do a good job at making us feel safe. They were desperately understaffed. There is a face covering rule, but it was not being enforced. Tampa is a hot spot in the state right now, no one should even consider being around others without one. At least half of the people who were there were not wearing their face coverings correctly, or they had taken them off all the way. Many would put them on correctly if they saw an employee, but then pull them off immediately after walking by.
Another thing that bothered me was that hand sanitizer was not being used before the rides. There were jugs of it right before all of the rides that we went on, but no one was encouraging guests to use it. I saw more people walk by the jugs than to take a few seconds to grab some. The number of cases will continue to rise if people don’t take these simple precautions.
Social distancing was also a bit of a joke. There were markers on the floor in the queues, but many people chose to ignore them. Sometimes it was by mistake (these are strange times that we’re living in) but other times they just didn’t seem to care. Since there were not enough employees, no one was enforcing this. There was an announcement in a line about keeping apart one time, but that was the closest that we saw to getting people to follow the rules.
The park was not crowded at all. I have no idea what their current capacity is, but I know that they were not close to it. (Reservations are required and we had no problem getting ours.) There were long stretches where there were no other guests in sight. That made for short wait times; if the rides were working. There were a lot of technical problems when we were there, so rides kept breaking down. Because the park wasn’t crowded, I still felt safe. My daughter and I are both good at following the rules. There were plenty of jugs of hand sanitizer throughout the park, and there were also handwashing stations. We were able to follow CDC guidelines, even though others did not seem to be making the same efforts.
Like the other parks that we’ve been to since Florida started to reopen, there are Face Covering Relaxation Zones. I noticed three of them. These are a great idea, because you can take off the mask for a few minutes, as long as you stay away from the other people who are doing the same thing. We didn’t see anyone using these zones. So few people were wearing their masks correctly, I guess no one saw a need to visit a place where they could take it off and not break the rules.
I don’t go to Busch Gardens Tampa often because we live so close to Walt Disney World, so I was really looking forward to exploring the park more. Instead, we left discouraged. If there had been more people there and so many rules were still being broken, I don’t think that we would have stayed. I hope that they get their act together, because I don’t think that they are doing all that they can to keep guests safe.