As COVID-19 restrictions become apart of everyone’s business plan, Calaway Park is taking steps to ensure the safety of attendees, while still providing the experience visitors know and love.
The Springbank-based amusement park reopened for its 39th season July 17. General Manager Bob Williams said he believes the park has exceeded the expectations of those who have attended so far.
“The guests have said they feel safe, and at the same time they are having some good old family fun,” he said.
Calaway Park had to change its entire experience to be in line with COVID-19-related health and safety guidelines, according to Williams. Part of its new protocols include reservations to stagger the number of people allowed into the park, wellness checks upon arrival and a strong recommendation for guests to wear masks. Face masks are required for certain rides.
Williams said the process to get to a point where the park could reopen was time-consuming. A 24-page document that included new protocols and procedures was submitted to the Alberta government, and a 12-page team member handbook was also distributed to staff.
“Even prior to COVID-19, our primary focus is safety,” Williams said. “We wanted to ensure that we did this right.”
Williams said Calaway Park was fortunate no one had to be laid off due to the pandemic. He added 600 seasonal team members were hired before a start date was known.
“One of the challenges was trying to identify a date that we could start training,” Williams said. “Even prior to our July 17 opening date, we needed a few weeks to get all of the technical training done.”
As of July 30, the park is open at 33 per cent capacity. He added that currently, the park is well-attended, but not reaching capacity on a daily basis.
One reason for that, Williams said, could be that six of the park’s high-capacity rides are not open. The rides that are currently closed include Vortex, Chaos, Ocean Motion, Adrenaline Test Zone, Wave Rider and Free Fallin.
“We had to make the decision to keep the rides closed for now,” he said. “That might change in Stage 3.”
Liane Voss, a registered nurse who works in continuing care, recently took her six-year-old daughter to Calaway Park and was impressed with the park’s approach.
“Given the nature of my job currently, I am especially cautious when out and about in public settings,” she said. “I was impressed with the staff wearing masks, hand sanitizer readily available, clear signage, and cleaning of high touch surfaces occurring after every ride.”
Voss added she thought the staff did a really good job and that the park’s vibrant spirit was still present.
“The restrictions did not take away from our experience,” she said. “In fact, it was a nice change not having to deal with longer lineups due to the reduced number of people.”