Skip to content

NEAAPA – The Northeast’s Entertainment Association

NEAAPA Weekly News - May 12, 2021

May 12, 2021


Hi Adam,


Now here is your weekly email of news you can use from around the industry...


Physical Distancing On Rides is Counterproductive

Written by Erik Beard

Bottom line: Spacing riders out on rides is actually counterproductive to reducing potential exposure because ride capacity has an inverse relationship to line length. The fewer people you allow on your ride, the more people are waiting in your line and the longer they are waiting. The goal of social distancing and reduced capacities is to reduce the likelihood of “close contact” with individuals with Covid-19. The CDC has defined “close contact” as being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative time of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period. The State of New York, in its reopening guidance, has shortened the threshold time to 10 minutes. Keeping people spaced out on rides avoids close contact for the length of the ride cycle, but it dramatically increases the number of people waiting in the queue and the length of time they are waiting – which increases the likelihood of “close contact” in that location. Some numbers below illustrate the point:

  • Average Roller Coaster cycle time (includes loading/unloading and ride time):  approximately 3.5-4 minutes
  • Average flat ride cycle time (includes loading / unloading and ride time): approximately 5 minutes (flat rides tend to load / unload less quickly than coasters because there is typically less staffing at these rides and the ride units may be spread out over a larger area).

Thus, if we load every seat on the ride, without regard for social distancing, riders from separate travel groups will be within six feet of one another for an average of 3.5-5 minutes depending on the type of ride. Recall though that because of the number of people in the park, it is highly unlikely that the same groups of unrelated riders will be seated near one another on more than one ride per visit.  Assuming, therefore, that a rider is infected, it is unlikely that another guest will be in “close contact” (under either the NYS or CDC definition) with that rider by virtue of common participation on a ride.


Contrast this with the effect on the queue of spacing people out on the rides.  Imposing six foot social distancing on a roller coaster, for example, can easily cut capacity on the train by two-thirds. In other words, a train that is designed to accommodate 24 riders at a time may only be able to accommodate eight if required to socially distance. The effect this has on the line length & waiting time is significant.


Hourly Throughput Assuming Full Capacity:

  • 60 minutes in an hour / 4 minutes per cycle = 15 cycles per hour
  • 15 cycles per hour x 24 riders per cycle = 360 per hour (assumes single train operation)

Hourly Throughput Assuming 1/3 Capacity Due to Social Distancing:

  • 60 minutes in an hour / 4 minutes per cycle = 15 cycles per hour
  • 15 cycles per hour x 8 riders per cycle = 120 per hour (assumes single train operation)

The 240 riders per hour that are not riding under the social distancing scenario are waiting in line – a line that is now moving 67% slower than a line for a ride operating at full capacity. So, a 10 minute wait for a roller coaster at full capacity becomes a 17 minute wait with social distancing. A 30 minute wait for a roller coaster at full capacity becomes a 50 minute wait with social distancing. Whereas filling a ride to capacity would be unlikely to bring riders within “close contact” of one another due to the duration of the ride, lowering capacity on the ride actually makes it more likely that guests will be in “close contact” with one another in the queue because of the dramatically increased waiting times.


Social distancing in the queue does not solve the problem. Experience in the summer of 2020 and with parks currently operating have shown that the shorter the waiting time, the more effective social distancing measures are. In essence, it is easier to get riders to maintain social distancing when the line is moving than when they are standing around for longer periods of time. The longer people wait in line the closer they tend to drift together despite efforts to maintain social distancing with ground markers and staffing. The key to maintaining distancing in the queues is to keep the line moving as much as possible and not let it stagnate.  


A couple of other points to consider:

  • Parks such as Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Cedar Fair parks have already begun (Disney and Universal) or will be soon (Cedar Fair - when they reopen in May) fully loading their rides to keep line lengths to a minimum.  These properties have recognized that riding an amusement ride outdoors is significantly safer than such things as prolonged airplane, bus, or train travel – none of which are currently required to be socially distanced.
  • The likelihood of viral exposure on an outdoor amusement ride is significantly reduced, even within six feet, because of the airflow around the vehicle and the rider. A recent Brown University study looked at viral exposure between the driver and opposite side, rear seat passenger in a car with all windows rolled down and the car moving at a speed of 50 mph. The study found that the rate of viral transmission between the two individuals was almost imperceptible. ( Outdoor amusement rides have even greater airflow than a car with all the windows rolled down since riders are surrounded by open air at all times.  If the rate of transmission in a vehicle is almost imperceptibly low, the rate of transmission on an outdoor, fast moving amusement ride must logically be no worse (and likely less).

Erik Beard is a managing member and general counsel to International Ride Training. He has worked in the amusement industry for over twenty-five years. Erik is the Second Vice President of NEAAPA.

The Northeast's 2021 Team Member Incentive Swap Appreciating our Industry's Shining Stars

NEAAPA’s Fun Pass Program becomes the Team Member Incentive Swap for 2021!

Due to capacity limitations and advance reservation requirements, the NEAAPA Employee Fun Pass program will once again be placed on pause for 2021. However, now that most facilities are back in operation, we are launching the Team Member Incentive Swap to still show your appreciation to those working in our industry by treating them to a change of scenery.


It's very easy to participate. You send NEAAPA 100 complimentary admissions to your facility, and in turn, NEAAPA will send you 100 complimentary admissions to other facilities.


NEAAPA Spring Leadership On Demand

presented by International Ride Training

2021 is shaping up to be among the most exciting seasons the Northeast amusement industry has ever seen. Our guests missed their opportunity to spend time with family and friends in our attractions last year and all signs point to significant demand for excitement, relaxation, and fun in 2021! You will play a significant role in ensuring that each of our guests this season is welcomed back to a safe, clean, and memorable environment - even if some of the protective measures implemented over the last year still linger.


NEAAPA and International Ride Training are proud to offer you the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the industry as you prepare for your season. While the pandemic means that we cannot get together in person this year, it has afforded us the opportunity to provide you with a number of courses taught by some of the best in the business - far more instructors than could ever participate in person - to ensure that you are well prepared to handle the challenges that await you this season.


This year, the Spring Leadership On-Demand will be a COMPLIMENTARY member benefit.


May is National Water Safety Month

National Water Safety Month

National Water Safety Month takes place annually each May, and is proclaimed as a joint effort of the World Waterpark Association, the American Red Cross, the National Recreation and Park Association and the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. Now in their 10th year of partnering on NWSM, these organizations represent businesses and other individuals and agencies involved in bringing safe, enjoyable aquatic activities to the American public, from home pools and spas, to waterparks and resorts, to public swimming and water recreation facilities. This designation has been made in recognition of the popularity of swimming and other water-related recreational activities in the United States, and the resulting need for ongoing public education on safer water practices, including swim lessons, the buddy system, parental supervision, following the posted rules, and always being “water aware.”


To help WWA members take advantage of the positive opportunities presented by this community-service event, the World Waterpark Association offers two resources, both of which are available at no cost to current WWA member facilities. First, you can download the updated Be Water Aware Kit here. Second, you can request the Be Water Aware PR Guide, described below, by emailing Cathy Haggarty. This guide provides tips on generating publicity surrounding National Water Safety Month, ways in which park members can communicate with the media and creative public relations suggestions members can use to promote their efforts.

Be Water Aware PR Guide includes:

  • Tips on communicating with the media
  • Creative public relations ideas
  • Steps on how to write a press release
  • Sample press releases members can send to the local media
  • Radio PSA scripts you can send to local radio stations
  • Suggestions on developing informational fliers
  • Water-safety tips ready to distribute to local schools, community centers, churches and synagogues
  • Sample social media posts to use on Facebook and Twitter

Included in the Be Water Aware Kit are Be Water Aware and National Water Safety Month logos that you can use on social media posts or put on your park's website to direct followers to key water safety information on and


Each year, the World Waterpark Association, on behalf of its partners, coordinates Gubernatorial proclamations from all 50 states within the U.S. to proclaim May as National Water Safety Month. These proclamations come from the highest level of state government and they help support the idea that spreading the message around safer water practices, learning to swim and drowning prevention are key to each community found within the U.S. 


You can find your state's proclamation here.


Get your ad in the 2021 NEAAPA Directory & Buyer's Guide; Banner Ads on the website now available

NEAAPA Directory & Buyer's Guide and Banner Ad Bundle

Reach the key decision-makers across the Northeast Attractions Industry. NEAAPA offers a variety of advertising and sponsorship opportunities that will fit any budget.


Do you have an idea for a Member Meeting Topic that you could lead? Contact Ed Hodgdon at


NEAAPA Member To Member Deals


NEAAPA is excited to roll out our new Member To Member Deals on Here you will be able to post offers and deals that are exclusive to your fellow NEAAPA members.

To get started, log into the Member Information Center. You can learn more about posting your Member To Member Deal with this PDF or you can watch this video.


Should you have any questions, please call the NEAAPA Office at 877-999-8740 x701 or email


Upcoming Industry Events

NEAAPA 108th Anniversary Summer Meeting

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Six Flags New England in Agawam, MA

Details and Registration Coming Soon!


Stay Socially Connected


NEAAPA - The Northeast's Entertainment Association

PO Box 85   Saco, ME 04072   USA



Advocacy + Information + Networking