It’s June 2020, states are reopening for business, and Coronavirus has claimed over 110, 000 lives. Where is this all leading? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is there any hope of a vaccine to upend this merciless virus? The travel industry has been tremendously impacted. Millions have been forced to stay home. While millions stay at home, the airlines continue to suffer. The cruise lines are trying desperately to stay “afloat”. Amtrak ridership has plummeted 85%. On top of that, amusement parks around the country are opening for the summer season, but with restricted capacity. So, how’s this summer really shaping up? The truth hurts. Summer is on the verge of lost. Can it be saved? Candidly, summer rests in the hands of science.
Summer has always been looked to as a season of memories. It’s supposed to be a season of getting together, sharing good times, and appreciating America’s past times. What memories are being forged now? Whatever happened to baseball? It’s June and still, no season! Professional basketball would have ended right about now, but is in a holding pattern. Professional hockey is in a holding pattern too. One wished that Coronavirus would be called for a “delay of game” penalty! Instead, the whole entire country is sputtering, just struggling to get back into rhythm again. Besides professional sports, Coronavirus has impacted college basketball. There was no March Madness and no Final Four to be played. Sports and travel go hand-in-hand. Without either one, America is not what she was designed to be. President Trump said sometime ago that America “was never built to be shut down”. He’s right! Without the travel industry, America is nothing. America is all about traveling and experiencing everything out there we all hold dear. Coronavirus, metaphorically, is the 9-11 America never wanted to experience. How this invisible enemy is going to be conquered, lies in the spirit of the American public.
This summer, theme parks such as Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Busch Gardens in Tampa and Williamsburg, VA, Six Flags parks across the country, and the most beloved of them all-Walt Disney World and Disneyland, are being forced to operate on only 50% capacity. These theme parks cannot thrive on limited crowds. Sadly, many thousands of theme park employees have been furloughed or laid off. No day at any theme park around the country is supposed to endure the level of pain they’re feeling. Families do not deserve the sad reality of walking into any theme park wearing face masks. Further, they should not have to stand six feet apart from others. It seems as if Americans are being unfairly punished during this trying time. Summer was never meant to be a time of such despair; a time filled with horrific circumstances. Coronavirus has sadly given Americans a Fast Pass to a nowhere. Is there any sign of an end of this nightmare?
Social distancing is already a tired term. How in the world can anyone be social and distant at the same time? Whoever came up with social distancing needs to have his/her IQ retested! Has anyone taken a look at how hotels are being forced to temporarily operate? Guests have to be six feet away from the front desk. Further, they must wear face masks. Why must anyone wear face masks and still have to stand six feet away? No more breakfast buffets? No bars? No room service? They have got to be kidding! Hasn’t this nonsense gone far enough? How does anyone practice social distancing in a theme park? How does anyone practice social distancing in the elevator at the “Twighlight Zone Tower of Terror” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? How does anyone practice social distancing in the stretching room at “The Haunted Mansion”? How are guests supposed to practice social distancing while at the ice cream parlor, while trying to eat their sundaes while wearing face masks? It kind of defeats the purpose of the song, “It’s A Small World”. Would anyone agree?
Can anyone turn the clock back to their school days in science class? Remember when students made walkie-talkies with Styrofoam cups and a piece of string in between? Now, that’s social distancing! Finally, has anyone checked their medicine chests and toiletry kits? Does everyone have the following items for travel: a strong shampoo, a pleasant scented soap, a strong deodorant, a well-recommended toothpaste, mouthwash, a favorite shaving gel, and a pleasantly scented aftershave (for men)? For brownie points, does anyone pack Axe body spray, in case there are a lot of dogs on the block? It’s time for a reality check; time for the negativity to end, and time to look nowhere but forward.
The Coronavirus has America in a stranglehold. Sadly, the travel industry is paying an unfair price, and many businesses of all sizes are on the verge of going under. Nearly empty airplanes, half-empty trains, partially empty beaches, special summer events cancelled, and theme parks operating at half capacity are all painting a portrait. Ultimately, social distancing has gone totally berserk. What’s to make of what’s transpired thus far? What’s the key to the end of this never-ending crisis? It seems as if there’s no hope or happy ending. Candidly, there is a happy ending. Every Disney film has a struggle between the hero and the villain. As always, the heroes always prevail. America’s battle with the Coronavirus is a battle with struggles on all fronts, but the travel industry has been the primary battle ground. Someday soon, the Coronavirus will retreat, and America will see victory become reality. Remember when the Buffalo Bills beat the Houston Oilers in the 1992 AFC Wild Card playoff game, 41-38 in overtime, after trailing 35-3? It seemed as if the lights in the stadium had been turned out and the season was over. Right now, America is in the 3rd quarter, with another half yet to play. The traveling public will need to be the cheerleaders, the airlines and cruise lines need to be the offense, the hotel employees will need to play smart defense, and Amtrak’s fine on board staff being the “train-ers” to keep everyone in the game. Against the Coronavirus, the comeback has begun.