Saturday, April 17, 2021

Fact Check

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If Your Time is short

  • News outlets mistakenly reported that amusement parks could be required to ask people not to scream on rides.
  • A trade group for amusement parks in California published a plan for parks reopening amid COVID-19 that discussed their “ability to limit activities known to cause increased spread,” such as shouting, but recommended face covering requirements and possible changes to how riders are seated. 
  • The plan did not advocate for banning screaming on rides.

Back in July a Japanese amusement park drew attention for encouraging roller coaster riders to “please scream inside your heart.”

As NPR reported at the time, the suggestion was one of several recommendations that Japanese amusement park operators released to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A recent post being shared on social media suggests that Disneyland in California has followed suit.

“New ‘no scream’ policy on roller coasters,” reads one of two bullets in what looks like a local news broadcast. “Disneyland enforcing policy.”

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Disneyland did not immediately respond to an email from PolitiFact about the post.

Out on March 17, it announced on its blog that after being closed for more than a year, Disneyland park and Disneyland California Adventure park are planning to reopen to the public on April 30. There are some catches: There will be limited capacity and “operational changes” to promote physical distancing and follow “guidance from health authorities.”

The blog post doesn’t mention roller coasters or screaming.

We couldn’t find the exact news broadcast that appears in the Facebook post, but other media organizations recently reported incorrectly that people riding roller coasters would be forbidden from screaming on rides, information that they later corrected.

Here’s what happened.

The California Attractions and Parks Association, a trade group for amusement parks in the state, published a “responsible reopening plan.” It included a list of criteria for determining the risk of spreading COVID-19 and actions amusement parks could take to mitigate that risk.

That criteria included the ability to accommodate people wearing face coverings at all times, the ability to physically distance from people from different households, and the “ability to limit activities known to cause increased spread (e.g.: singing, shouting, heavy breathing; loud environments will cause people to raise voice).”

But the plan isn’t advocating for amusement parks to limit shouting or screaming bloody murder on your way down Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The plan suggested ways to limit the risks posed by shouting: “Face covering usage and/or modifications to seat loading patterns will be required on amusement park rides to mitigate the effects of shouting.”

The CBS News affiliate in Los Angeles was among the news outlets to report that theme parks may be required to ask visitors not to scream on rides — and soon corrected its story.

And on March 18, the California Attractions and Parks Association tweeted in response to what it called  “some confusing reports in the press”:  “At no point has CAPA recommended limiting or prohibiting yelling or screaming on amusement park rides as a way to mitigate transmission of COVID-19.”

While some news headlines like this one state that Disney parks are reopening “but no screaming please,” we found that the source of these reports was the trade group’s reopening plan.

We didn’t find evidence that a screaming ban exists, or that Disney is enforcing such a policy.

We rate this claim False.


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