Theme parks are big business, attracting thrill-seeking visitors in their thousands every year. However, the watchword is ‘safety’, as the absolute top priority for any theme park owner or manager is to keep everyone safe and free from injury while on their site. In addition, ensuring the park looks up-to-date, in good order and inviting is key to encourage people to spread the word and to come back for another visit themselves.
At this time of year, many UK theme parks are preparing to close for the winter months, which presents the perfect opportunity to take a fresh look at the site to see what needs to be updated in terms of both aesthetics and the health and safety aspects.
When large numbers of people are moving about a complex site, there is an increased need for clearly visible, easy to follow line markings to help them navigate their way around. Whether that is to indicate where people should start queuing, how far they should stand away from a moving ride, where they should park coaches and cars in the car park or where they can safely cross roads also used by vehicles. The use of LEDs or reflective paints can also help evening visitors to move around more safely. During a closed period, it is well worth taking a close look at all existing line markings around the entire site to see if any need to be repainted, or moved to create a better system.
The ideal approach to welcoming people into a theme park is to allow them to access as much as is possible without compromising operational safety or logistics. However, it is inevitable that there must be some protective barriers installed to prevent people from accessing more dangerous spaces, such as ride control centres, areas under construction rides closed for repair and, of course, animal enclosures. Sometimes, temporary barriers need to be added when running events like fireworks nights or seasonal parades for public protection. Whether these barriers are simple bollards or more complex railing systems will depend on individual layouts and requirements, but again, now is the perfect time to assess what barrier and bollard protection your theme park will need during the final weeks of the current season, as well as looking ahead to the next one.
The annual costs of keeping rides fully maintained and completely safe can run into the millions for some of the larger theme parks. Even at smaller attractions, dodgems, merry-go-rounds and ‘Hook a Duck’ stalls can be expensive to maintain. However, this is essential work and it is important to find the right company to do it. Always factor running costs into the budget and look after the tried-and-trusted favourites before committing to too high an investment into new rides or expensive events. The fall-out from an accident on an ill-maintained ride can be devastating for all parties and can impact hugely on the future success, or otherwise, of a theme park.
Theme parks are competing more and more with other kinds of tourist attractions, especially with more of us staying at home to enjoy local entertainment rather than heading abroad. As well as the rides, make sure your shops, cafes, hotel facilities and other relaxation areas are up to scratch. Again, assess the barrier and line marking schemes to see if they need refreshing or reimagining. Are the car parks marked out correctly, with easy to follow arrows and warning signs? Are pedestrians segregated properly from moving traffic via pedestrian barriers or walking ‘zones’ painted on the ground? Are the reception areas welcoming enough, with plenty of signage and markings to help people find their way around the theme park?