Coronavirus ‘may influence future ride design’

Stealth rollercoaster, Thorpe Park

A former director of Merlin Entertainments has said that theme parks may need to consider coronavirus in the design of future rides.

Andy Edge, who was the company’s Sales & Marketing Director between 2004 and 2007, said that reduced ride capacities would have a major effect on park operations.

Currently the scientific advice around social distancing is that a 2-metre, or 6-foot, distance should be maintained between people to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Edge said: “How do you manage seat separation and social separation with families, couples and strangers?

“Rides rely on effective loading, and a 50% fill will have a major impact on operations.

“If coronavirus is here to stay, theme parks may have to think about the long-term physical design and production of rides.”

Merlin has recently approached the debt markets to secure emergency funding as its worldwide operations are almost entirely closed down amidst the COVID-19 epidemic.

The company’s UK theme parks – which include Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland Windsor – have been closed since mid-March.