Industries and institutions around the globe have begun administering rapid COVID-19 tests as a way to more fully reopen businesses and societies inside coronavirus-free bubbles while continuing to track the virus in real time.

Which raises the question: Would you be willing to take a rapid COVID-19 test in order to get into a theme park?

Rapid COVID-19 testing poses a potential solution for Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood or other California theme parks that have remained shuttered for nearly eight months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 health and safety reopening guidelines issued by the state could leave large California theme parks unable to return until early 2021 or next summer.

The idea of rapid COVID-19 testing at theme parks is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Universal Studios and Six Flags have conducted surveys of potential visitors to gauge their opinions about rapid COVID-19 testing as a prerequisite for visiting their theme parks.

Six Flags surveys asked customers about potentially requiring visitors to take a COVID-19 test before admission, according to the Orlando Weekly. The survey asked how likely respondents would be to visit a Six Flags park if it could be guaranteed that nobody in attendance had COVID-19.

A Universal Orlando survey asked respondents about their comfort level with a potential requirement that would admit only those visitors who received a negative result from a 15-minute rapid COVID-19 test, according to the Orlando Weekly.

Former Walt Disney Imagineer Eddie Sotto wants to see theme parks incorporate rapid COVID-19 testing as part of the screening process and only admit visitors who have been cleared of infection.

“Our goal is to restore the happiest places on Earth to be the safest places on Earth,” Sotto told USA Today. “Making people feel safe and happy is the chief objective at a park. They can’t enjoy an experience unless they are reassured.”

The National Basketball Association resumed its coronavirus-shortened season and playoffs with an “NBA Bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World in Florida without any COVID-related interruptions to the schedule.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are becoming more common at a wide range of industries and institutions — including hotels, casinos, cruise ships, colleges and public school districts. Rapid COVID-19 testing has been rolled out at Alaska oil-drilling sites, Mississippi veterans homes and among Colorado homeless populations, according to the Pew Trust.

Airports in San Francisco, New York, Dallas, Miami, Tampa, Alaska, Germany, England, Japan and Hong Kong have begun offering rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers. Airlines such as United and American have instituted rapid COVID-19 testing programs.

The United Kingdom is working on a “moonshot” plan to test millions of people daily that would allow the country to track the virus in real time and isolate only those infected, according to Yahoo News. The first stages of the trial plan are set to begin in Liverpool.

California theme parks follow the now-familiar “new normal” of COVID-19 health and safety protocols with mandatory face coverings, temperature screenings, social distancing and enhanced sanitization. No parks in the state have proposed implementing rapid COVID-19 testing.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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