(June 19, 2020) Several amusement parks and arcades in Ocean City have gotten off to late start to the summer season, after being closed along with other businesses because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that amusement parks could open last Friday and arcades could open this Friday at 5 p.m.
Dean Langrall, director of sales and marketing for Jolly Roger Amusement Parks, said it was a busy first weekend for the location on the pier, where most of the rides were open.
“There were a lot of happy people coming right through, jumping on rides,” Langrall said. “It was a very cool thing to watch.”
He added that the first weekend crowd didn’t seem any bigger or smaller than past years.
“They might be more enthusiastic about coming to Jolly Roger’s because . . . a lot of Ocean City is still closed down,” Langrall said. “People want a place to go have fun.”
As for safety measures, Langrall said Jolly Roger has installed sanitizer stations throughout the park, and signs on the ground remind visitors to social distance.
“We’re wiping down the rides on a very diligent schedule so everything is disinfected,” Langrall said. “We got all of that in place before it even opened.”
For now, Jolly Roger will not be limiting capacity, according to Langrall.
At the 30th Street location, he said both miniature golf courses and the go-kart track were open last weekend, but none of the rides. He hopes that at least some of them will be open tonight.
“It’s a work in progress,” Langrall said. “We have to get them certified and approved by the guys from the state (safety inspectors) so we’re not really sure.”
He said he thinks Jolly Roger is one of the safest places to be.
“The safety of our guests and the safety of our employees are paramount,” Langrall said. “We’re not going to sacrifice that for anything else.”
Stephanie Meehan, operator of Funcade on the Boardwalk, said she feels the arcade is ready to open tonight.
“We’ve been preparing for quite a while,” Meehan said. “Not knowing when our date would be to open, every week we kind of set up and get ready, and when we find out we can’t open, we would start all over again and do a few more things.”
Funcade has purchased a special cleaner to regularly sanitize the machines, Meehan said. There will also be alcohol pads and wipes available for customers if they wish to wipe down the machines themselves. Everyone will be required to wear masks.
“We also have put up Plexiglass in front of our redemption counter,” Meehan said. “We have gone to a swipe card system on most of our games so our customers can use swipe cards instead of using quarters.”
A host will stand at the entrance to explain rules to guests, as well as keep track of how many are entering and leaving. Funcade will operate at half capacity, which will be about 50 to 60 guests plus employees, according to Meehan. Some of the games will also be shut down to encourage social distancing, but Meehan isn’t yet sure which games those will be.
Although Funcade typically has 14 employees at this time, it only has seven right now, and is looking to hire more.
Meehan said the most important thing to know is that Funcade is open and here.
“We’ve cleaned and we’ve gotten prepared for their visit,” Meehan said. “We just want them [guests] to have a great experience and feel safe and comfortable when they come in to Funcade.”
Joe Mohr, manager of Marty’s Playland, said the arcade has similar safety measures, such as signs, guidance for standing in line, a mask requirement and employees wiping down equipment.
“We’ve also added boxes of gloves for customers that still do not feel comfortable touching machines,” Mohr said. “They can request to wear gloves that they have to dispose of … after they play the games.”
Marty’s will also be operating at half capacity, which Mohr said will be about 400 people. Like Funcade, Marty’s is short on employees with about 20 when it normally has about 35. Mohr said it’ll be enough for now, but that he is looking for more to hire.
Mohr said Marty’s is finally ready to open after waiting for all the various signs and sanitizers to come in since the supplies were in such a high demand. He said he wants all guests to feel safe.
“I recommend that if they feel unsafe at all, they need to share that with our employees so that we can make sure their safety is our first priority,” Mohr said.
Jerry Greenspan, owner of Sportland, said the arcade will take similar measures as Marty’s Playland and Funcade, such as the signs and swipe card system.
“On top of that, we’re going to be fogging the whole arcade with a biocide, a chemical they’re using in hospitals to decontaminate viruses and covid,” Greenspan said. “It’s an electrostatic sprayer and it fogs all the equipment in the arcade.”
He said the biocide will be sprayed every day before opening and then again in the middle of the day. Employees will also wipe down machines throughout the day and bleach the floors at night.
Occupancy will also be controlled by a manager monitoring the entrance.
“Normally, we can hold up to 750 [people], but we’ll be probably around 250 to 300 people,” Greenspan said. “We have a rather large arcade and our aisles are all about seven feet wide, so social distancing shouldn’t be a real issue.”
Finally, Sportland will employ a security guard to monitor safety for guests and employees.
“We’re concerned for people’s safety and at the end of the day, we want people to have a lot of fun,” Greenspan said.