There is nothing that will ruin a day at a theme park as efficiently as rain. The weather is one thing that the parks simply can’t control and generally results in a miserable day for customers and staff alike. Many of the issues are obvious but for those who have never worked at a park some of the attendant problems will not become apparent until they have paid their entrance fee.
What seems like an inoffensive light shower when walking around can be a serious hazard when travelling at 80mph. At that speed raindrops feel like bullets and riding a launch coaster is like being shot in the face. The forces of the ride also serve to drive the rain into your body reaching the parts other showers cannot reach! Just 60 seconds on a coaster will lead to a drenching making the rest of the day extremely uncomfortable.
Rides can often be shutdown in heavy rain. This could be because the ride will be too painful or unpleasant. Sometimes the staff have to save people form themselves! When I worked in the business I found that some guests were so desperate to ride that they would have climbed aboard in a monsoon but it really isn’t advisable.
Some gravity fed coasters run faster in the wet. The rides are designed to travel at a certain speed and an over speed can be dangerous and exert undue forces on the ride structure. It can also cause issues with breaking and so coasters must stop operating if they are running too fast. The rain can also interfere with sensors on the circuit which will cause the ride system to stop the attraction. The software must know where all the cars, trains or boats are on the circuit in order to avoid collisions so if the rain trips a sensor the ride will stop. Shut downs can be very frustrating for visitors but they are inevitable in bad weather.
Health and Safety
Platforms and crossing points can become very slippery when wet making loading and unloading the rides hazardous for both customers and staff. For this reason the process tends to take longer in the rain as everyone must move about carefully. The ride throughput suffers and queuing times are longer.
Working long hours in the rain is a miserable experience and so morale amongst the staff can suffer. The usually cheerful workers can get very down as it is hard to maintain that happy smile when you are soaked to the skin and tired out. Even the best waterproof coats seem to fail after a while as does the most durable footwear. I swore by my old work shoes which gave me great service but others were not so fortunate in their choices. Wet feet can lead to blisters and skin conditions which is highly unpleasant. Ride attendants walk up to 10 miles each day just loading and unloading the rides.
Sadly most parks will not issue rain checks meaning that if your day is ruined by the rain then you are not going to get your money back. It is always wise to check the weather forecast before you set out because some visits are best postponed until the weather improves.
Article by Sally Stacey