3 Considerations for Reopening Waterparks

Waterparks are reopening, and it is essential owners and operators are aware of changing regulations for compliance. Additionally, they will need to take into account previous and more recent associated risks.

Owners and operators should consult and check the federal, state, and local government health and safety policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is constantly updating guidelines, and most waterparks are returning to pre-pandemic times.

While the CDC says there is no evidence COVID-19 can spread in areas like pools, splash pads, or water parks, businesses should still follow proper sanitation practices and guidelines.

COVID-19 risk mitigation for reopening waterparks

The World Waterpark Association continues to work with public health officials and operators to protect guests’ health and develop strategies for safe reopenings.

1. Communication matters more than ever

Communication is vital for reopening waterparks successfully. Owners and managers need to share timely and changing information with employees and guests. A few items to consider include:


  • Update staff on changes to hiring and training processes, including onboarding staff and orientation procedures.
  • Inform staff how they will be protected and how to mitigate the risk of exposure for guests.


  • Develop and/or update pre-visit and in-park message delivery systems to educate guests about expectations. These systems can include websites, signage, social media, and advertising. 
  • Educate guests on how to protect themselves from unnecessary exposure.

Waterparks and additional water play facilities should have disinfectant wipes and sanitizers for staff and guests. Waterparks may increase signage displaying enhanced cleaning procedures.

Training continues to be a vital component for mitigating virus exposure risks as well as refreshing staff on general safety protocols. Waterparks will need to require time for staff-specific training to raise awareness of new responsibilities.

With any season reopening, but especially after this past year, owners and managers need to ensure checklists, procedure manuals, and detailed incident reports are kept updated. Supervisors need to monitor and reinforce training.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. This document helps employers reduce employee risk of exposure to COVID-19.

2. Capacity issues

As mentioned early, capacity will be different for each public health jurisdiction, and if restrictions are lifted, owners and operators can decide what protocols they want to take. To meet social distancing guidelines, waterpark operators should figure out the best guest capacity for the facility and water attractions such as wave pools, lazy rivers, and more.

Some amusement and entertainment businesses are lifting reservation-only systems, but still capping seating options within the park.

It’s safe to say, things have changed quickly over the past couple of months, and guidelines are always subject to change. Management and employees should be prepared to recalculate guest capacity at any moment to stay in compliance with federal, state, and local guidelines.

3. Screening Tools

Owners and operators can continue to use screening procedures for guests and employees. Signage should provide information on signs and symptoms to look out for before attending the parks and onsite. Remember, any person showing COVID-19 symptoms should not be allowed to enter.

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Find the right insurance partner

Waterpark safety should always be a top concern. COVID-19 is just one risk to consider when reopening, but there are additional risks to prepare for. It’s time to reevaluate safety practices and procedures to keep liability at bay and employees and guests safe.

The right insurance provider will understand the risks and provide resources for unexpected issues. The McGowan Amusement & Entertainment Insurance Program is built from years of industry experience. We work to help grow businesses and help cover the unexpected. Learn more and contact us.

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