Four times, Orange County has sent its coronavirus strike team to Fun Spot America’s Orlando park to see how the park is complying with COVID-19 safety rules. And four times, inspectors found that the park is failing to consistently enforce face mask requirements among guests.
The latest surprise visit to the park came on Oct. 22, said county spokesperson Despina McLaughlin. In the short report shared with Theme Park Tribune, the strike team stated, “Follow-up visit showed marked improvement with staff on compliance with state-approved reopening plan from previous visits. However, a noncompliance issue remains with patrons not wearing masks on rides. Future follow-up visit to be scheduled.”
The strike team did report that Fun Spot was in compliance with other safety measures that it pledged to enforce when the state allowed the park to reopen in late May. These include practicing physical distancing, including maintaining markings to help guests stay six feet apart, and having signage throughout the park reminding workers and customers to follow the new rules.
Theme Park Tribune previously obtained private “secret shopper” reports which found violations of COVID-19 safety rules at Fun Spot Orlando in June and July. Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino was aware of those safety concerns as early as June 11, with Theme Park Tribune obtaining an email that he sent to the Orange County Mayor’s Office stating in part, “they are not playing by the rules that we even let them set themselves.”
Before Fun Spot reopened its parks in Orlando and Kissimmee, owner and chairman John Arie shared posts on his personal Facebook that spread misinformation about face masks, such as falsely claiming masks could result in oxygen deprivation and carbon dioxide toxicity (they cannot, as many health care professionals who wear masks for long periods of time can attest).
Fun Spot has not responded to multiple requests for comment regarding these reports. It again failed to respond to a request sent on Monday regarding the latest county visit.
Asked what the county may do to get Fun Spot to comply with COVID-19 rules, McLaughlin said, “Our Strike team is planning to meet with Fun Spot management to find a solution.”
The county strike team also visited other theme parks and attractions in recent weeks, including Oct. 16 visits to Gatorland and the Magic Kingdom, both of which were found to be in compliance of their own COVID-19 safety rules. Regarding the Disney World park, inspectors stated, “Guests have been more non-compliant with the wearing of the face masks but employees seem to be still enforcing the wearing of them.”
SeaWorld Orlando was also found to be in compliance during an Oct. 20 visit, the second time the park has been visited by the county strike team. But the latest report also included critical comments from an unnamed citizen who claimed SeaWorld employees was not been enforcing face mask rules.
“Citizen states no minimum requirements for masks, no mask required for children,” the county report summarized. “People buy beer and walk around, no mask is needed. They observed many unmasked people in front of their own staff and no one did or said anything. The walking with food or drink and no masks is particularly troublesome. The social distance markings also leave a lot to be desired. They are encouraging people to take off masks when taking photos.”
The county strike team’s findings did not match that unnamed person’s complaint, however. The team reported that on its Oct. 20 visit, it walked the entire park and found that mask violations were being corrected by SeaWorld employees, signage about the safety rules was prevalent throughout the park, and rides were being sanitized between dispatches.
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