Sunday, May 24, 2020

Water World in Colorado Staying Closed for 2020 Season

© Water World
While we had some great news over the past few days about parks planning to reopen (or already having reopened), we're still seeing some other properties go in the opposite route.

Located in Colorado, Water World, which is a part of the Hyland Hill Parks & Recreation District, announced that it will not be opening for the 2020 season.  Instead it is telling guests it looks forward to welcoming them for the 2021 season, starting May 23rd, 2021.

The park keeps the safety of their guests as their top priority, and having proper training time to get all their lifeguards ready to go seems to be a big part of the closure.  They note that there is no data that COVID-19 can transfer in treated water, but the state still hasn't given orders that they can reopen.  Instead of waiting for that clearance and then trying to hire and train staff, the park will just stay closed.

© Google Maps
The park has already extended all season passes and tickets to be valid for 2021.  Pass holders will also receive some extra benefits once the park opens next year.

Water World is also teasing what could be a new attraction for 2021, saying that they "have some EXCITING news to share" over the summer.  The park is known for a giant selection of water slides and attractions (seen above), and new additions are usually quite significant.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Round-Up of Recently Announced Park Reopenings

© Lagoon Amusement Park
Lagoon Amusement Park, located in Utah, announced that they will be reopening today, May 23rd.  They received notification from local authorities that they were allowed to open, and wasted no time in doing just that.  The park's water park, Lagoon-A-Beach, is also open.

The park has implemented a reservation system that must be used before visiting, in order to limit attendance.  The system only allows for reservations for the week following the current day, and season pass holders are limited to visits per week.

The park will be requiring visitors to wear a face mask at all times, and they will also ask everyone to sanitize their hands when they enter a ride queue.  Right now the park is following hours of 10 am until 8 pm on Saturdays, and 11 am until 8 pm other days.

© Gatorland
Another long time Orlando area attraction, Gatorland, has also reopened as of today.  The park is heavily promoting their Social Distancing Skunk Ape, a famed "Florida Cryptid" who is cousins with Bigfoot.  He feels very strongly about everyone keeping an appropriate distance and also keeping things clean, and I love it.  If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to learn more about him on this page.

The park is not requiring visitors to wear face masks, just encouraging them to do so.  The park's CEO has written a great deal about the measures they have taken in response to COVID-19.

Gatorland has also very smartly extended their Florida resident half off sale, which should help them attract some curious folks looking to get out of the house.

© Alabama Adventure
Alabama Adventure amusement park and Splash Adventure water park are planning to open on May 30th, if all goes well.  After announcing that opening date the county they are located in passed their own extension of stay at home orders, however as of today it seems the park has clarified that they can open and as such is back to planning to reopen on the 30th.  Regardless, the stay at home was only extended by one week so worse case is an opening around June 6th.

There isn't a lot on the park's website about specific changes that will take place in response to COVID-19, though as a small family run park we hope that they will double down on the safety of their workers and guests.

© Magic Springs
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park, located in Arkansas, has announced their reopening for June 1st.  The park will be limiting attendance to 30% of maximum occupancy for the theme park, and 50% of the maximum occupancy for the water park.

As a benefit the park will be offering season pass holders some extras, including $10 to spend in the park, extra bring a friend free passes and monthly discounts via coupons.

Magic Springs will not require reservations to visit the park, and they do encourage guests to purchase tickets online ahead of time.  It sounds like tickets can be purchased at the gate as well.  The park will not require face masks for outdoor parts of the property, but they are required to enter indoor food and retail locations.

The park is also asking guests to be patient as social distancing initiatives will create longer lines, all in the name of safety.

© Quassy Amusement P ark
Connecticut, home of Quassy Amusement Park and Waterpark, has announced that amusement parks will be able to open on June 20th.  As such, the park is already diving into hiring for the park's summer season, which is expected to start on that day.

Since this is a very recent development and the opening is still several weeks away, the park's website does not yet reflect much in the way of changes related to COVID-19.  I'm sure that as the official opening date draws closer the park will have more information to share.

© Indiana Beach
It wasn't long ago that we found out that Indiana Beach was being saved, and now we know that the park is planning to open for the 2020 season on June 27th.

The park is still hard at work building a new website, so we don't have any specifics yet related to COVID-19 changes that may be required.  Between trying to actually get the gates open again and all the work that comes with it, the new owners are probably about as busy as they can be these days.

Also of note, if you're interested in getting into Indiana Beach one day early the park is having a VIP Party on June 26th.  You'll have to purchase a VIP ticket along with a brick paver that will be installed at the park.  More information on that is available here.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Several Florida Parks & Attractions Announce Reopening Plans and Dates

© Universal Orlando Resort
Some of the biggest news in the reopening of parks in the U.S. just broke, and that is that the Universal Orlando Resort will be reopening on June 5th.

The plan includes the two theme parks and one water park reopening, and details on the hotel resorts reopening will be announced soon.  Technically, the parks will open on June 1st already.  Both the 1st and 2nd will be for employees only to get used to new policies and procedures.  Then the 3rd and 4th will be invited guests only, to control attendance.  The 5th is open to the general public.

The resort will focus on "screening, spacing and sanitization."  Visitor will pass through a temperature check area after arriving, and are required to wear a face mask.  The park will reduce attendance, but not use a reservation system.  Obviously there will be full social distancing in place, along with strict cleaning standards including asking visitors to use hand sanitizer before entering ride vehicles.

Initially, the two theme parks will operate from 9 am to 6 pm daily, the water park from 10 am to 5 pm and CityWalk from 8 am to 10 pm.

© Fun Spot America
Elsewhere in Orlando, Fun Spot America just got approval to reopen and then did exactly that, today at 2 pm.

At this point most of the social distancing and cleaning standards at parks that are reopening are just that... standards, so no need to list them all individually each time.  However, it is worth noting that Fun Spot American is only doing temperature checks on employees each day, and they do not require a face mask while visiting the park - just encourage it.

Fun Spot America will update on their property in Kissimmee at a later date.  For now, the Orlando park will be open daily from noon until 10 pm.

© Legoland Florida
The Legoland Florida Resort has also revealed that they will welcome back guests starting on June 1st.  Both the theme park and water park will open, along with the existing hotel and the brand new Pirate Island Hotel.

The property will not require face masks, will do temperature checks, and is advertising that they will go entire cashless, accepting payments with cards only.  On their FAQ page for their reopening, they do say that they will limit attendance, but it does not appear that any type of reservation is needed.

With this momentum now going, I'm sure that we will hear from the other big Orlando Players - Disney and SeaWorld - next week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure's Wild Safari Drive Thru Adventure to Open May 30th

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure's Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure will officially open to guests on May 30th, the New Jersey theme park has announced.  Active members, Season Pass holders and employees can experience the Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure on a preview day, May 29th.

The experience will be open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, weather permitting.  As announced previously, the attraction will require reservations and is designed to offer a contact-free experience.  Tickets must be purchased online ahead of time and are not available at the gate.

To prevent over crowding and respect social distancing, reservations must be made at the park's website using Six Flags' new online reservation system.  Active members, season pass holders and single day ticket purchasers can begin making reservations on May 27th at 10 am.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
According to the park, the "Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure will take guests on a self-guided journey through 1,200 exotic animals from six continents.  From the safety and privacy of their own vehicles, guests will slowly wind through 350 acres and 11 simulated natural habitats seeing animals such as giraffes, elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, bears and baboons.  While most animals roam freely in the safari, predators are kept safely behind fences."  Further, the park encourages guests to learn more about the Safari's inhabitants before their visit via the park's website.

The Safari will take all precautions to keep guests safe during their visit, including administering temperature and health screenings for employees each day, and providing them with masks and gloves where appropriate.  With the theme park still closed per State regulations, the Safari cannot provide any other services at this time.  As such, the park "encourages guests to plan accordingly for restroom breaks, gasoline, and food," noting that portable toilets will only be available at the entrance and exit.

It has been many years since we've driven through the Safari, and it's wonderful to see the park making the best of a tough time!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Looks Like Adventureland's Dragon Coaster has been Vanquished by 2021 New Ride

© Adventureland
Adventureland has started to tease a new attraction coming to the park for 2021, and it looks to be at the cost of one of the park's current roller coasters.  The park posted the above image on Facebook with no further clues other than text stating "Coming in 2021..."

The image is of a knight slaying a dragon, and Adventureland is home to a steel looping roller coaster named The Dragon, probably not a coincidence there.

Much more importantly, there are photos floating around the internet of the coaster being taken apart.  There is one on Reddit, if you zoom in you can just see that track pieces are piled on the ground.  So with that happening and the above image, it is pretty clear that the park is replacing The Dragon with some sort of new attraction in 2021.

© Google Maps
The Dragon opened at Adventureland in 1990, manufactured by Hopkins.  Hopkins didn't make too many coasters in the U.S., and they're not really known for having aged well.  The ride featured a 90 foot lift and a drop into a pair of vertical loops, followed by several helices.  The ride's station (as seen above) is located on an island with two parts of the ride traveling over water.

With no real lead on what could be replacing the Dragon, we do know that there is a lot of real estate available for the park to play with, encouraging for sure.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

DelGrosso's Amusement Park + Laguna Splash Staying Closed for 2020 Season

© DelGrosso's Amusement Park
Unfortunately we have the announcement of another park that will not open for the 2020 season.  Tipton, Pennsylvania's DelGrosso's Amusement Park and Laguna Splash water park have made the difficult decision to sit out this operating season.

In a letter posted by the park, they state that the first and foremost reason for staying closed is for the safety of their employees and guests.  They also cite necessary social distancing measures, supply chain issues, capacity limitations and the uncertainty around when the park could actually open.

Pennsylvania is using a red, yellow and green phased opening system, as determined by PA officials.  DelGrosso's sits in Blair county, which was moved into the yellow phase on May 15th, however the exact path to the green phase, when the park could reopen, is not clear.  No part of Pennsylvania has reached the green phase yet.

As a smaller, family owned park it is discouraging to see them feel that they have no choice but to stay closed for the year.  With less resources than the larger park chains that is understandable, but still disappointing.  

The property spent a considerable amount on a large renovation and expansion a few years ago to create Laguna Splash.  It is also home to a spinning wild mouse coaster and a variety of classic flat rides.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure to Soon Reopen Safari as Drive Through Experience

Six Flags Great Adventure has announced that they will soon reopen their Safari adventure as an individual drive-through experience.  While the theme and water park remain closed due to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's orders, he recently made an executive order that allows drive through events so long as they implement social distancing.

An exact date of the Safari reopening has not been announced.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure's expansive Safari operated as a self drive through experience from 1974 through 2012.  In 2013 the park folded the Safari into the theme park's list of offerings, offering trips through it on guided safari trucks.  The park is happy to now again be able to allow visitors to explore the Safari and its 1,200 exotic animals from the safety of their own vehicles.

The park is currently reviewing and finalizing new safety procedures to further protect guests, employees and animals as the Safari reopens.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure will utilize a reservation only system for the Safari's reopening, to prevent overcrowding.  As soon as a final opening date is confirmed the park's reservation system will go live at this website.  Season pass holders, members and single day ticket holders will be able to make reservations at that location, after purchasing tickets online in the case of non-pass holders.

Anyone who arrives without a reservation will not be allowed to enter, as there are no ticket sales on site.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Six Flags Entertainment Details New Reservation System for Park Visits

© Six Flags
In an effort to manage attendance in order to keep workers and guests safe, Six Flags Entertainment has announced details of a new reservation system that will be employed when the chain of theme parks reopen.

In a press release from the company, they state that the 'user-friendly process will allow parks to manage daily attendance levels and avoid overcrowding in accordance with Centers for Disease Control recommendations on social distancing."

Any visitor with a single day ticket, group ticket, Membership or Season Pass will have to reserve their visit on Six Flags' website.  Six Flags says the entire process will only take 5 to 7 minutes.  Visitors will enter a number from their ticket or pass, then select the date and approximate time they want to arrive.  They will then see a brief video regarding social distancing and sanitization processes at the parks, acknowledge the company's health policy and pay for parking, if applicable.

This process is required to visit, as those who do not complete the process cannot enter the park.  However, it is noted that if guests show up and there is room and a reservation can be completed at that time, they may be able to enter.

© Six Flags
If a date is full guests can also sign up for a waitlist in case of cancellations or additional inventory becoming available.  Six Flags will send online visit reminders prior to the visit date.  Also of note, Diamond and Diamond Elite Members will get added to a "priority waitlist," followed by regular members and passholders, all above single day tickets.

There are a ton of details on the reservation website.  Here are some other interesting notes:

• Initially when parks reopen for a short period only Members and Passholders will be able to visit the parks, after that time all ticket holders may reserve.

• When reservations begin the entire 2020 season for each park will be open to be booked, however, additional inventory will be added to the calendars over time on purpose.

• A reservation can be made for a 'party,' or all guests visiting together.  Different order numbers, pass numbers, ticket numbers, etc., can be added to one reservation.

• Using the online system there can only be on reservation at a time per pass.  Six Flags customer service can be contacted for additional reservations to be manually made.

© Six Flags
• You can join waitlists for multiple days, but as soon as you're granted access to one you're removed from the other days' waitlist that you signed up for.

• If you arrive early for your reservation you may have to wait for your time, and if you're late they will let you in at an appropriate time that you can fit, so as not to cause crowding in the entrance facilities.

• Regarding guests who do not cancel their reservation and do not show up, Six Flags states that they "are subject to penalties such as reduced system priority and blockout periods."

This is the first information we've got for a reservation system for park-visiting in the U.S., and I expect there to be many more such systems for chains such as Cedar Fair, SeaWorld Entertainment, Universal and Disney in the future.  I'm sure there will be a huge amount of test and adjust to learn how it will work off-paper with actual, unpredictable, and always complicated humans, but it's certainly a smart and safe approach to dealing with the pandemic fallout.

Silverwood Theme Park + Boulder Beach To Open May 30th + June 6th

© Silverwood Theme Park
Silverwood Theme Park will open its gates for the 2020 season on May 30th, and its water park, Boulder Beach, will open on June 6th, the property has announced.  The parks have been cleared to open by the state, and its owners have planned "extensive social distancing and cleaning protocols" to keep guests safe while visiting.

To control guest capacity, Silverwood Theme Park will require tickets purchased online to be for a specific date.  They will also offer guests a mask upon entry if they want to wear one and do not have any.

© Silverwood Theme Park
The park will utilize social distancing in ride queue areas, and also sanitize ride vehicles between dispatches.  To that end the park is letting visitors know that lines may appear longer and it will take a bit of extra time to board some attractions.  Understandable given the world now.

The park's total list of precautions is extensive, but also include promoting cashless transactions, social distancing while dining, single use items for food service, open door policies on indoor areas for further ventilation, upgraded filtration systems, and more.

Good luck to the park on their opening, as one of the first in North American we will be watching to see how it goes!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mt. Olympus Theme + Water Park Only Open to Resort Guests in 2020

© Mt. Olympus
Mt. Olympus Theme and Water Park has started to advertise on their website that the parks will only be open to guests staying in their resort hotels during 2020.  It is not immediately clear if this is in reaction to the pandemic, though one might assume that it at least partially is.

The property has purchased many area hotels in recent years, and now advertise that they offer more than 1,700 rooms and host 1.3 million visitors per year.  They have an indoor water park, indoor family entertainment center, outdoor water park and an outdoor amusement park for guests to utilize.

© Mt. Olympus
The change, if in part due to the pandemic, will certainly make managing their guests easier and also reduce the number of them overall.  The property appears to have had their indoor water park and indoor family entertainment center open this whole time, with the outdoor parks usually opening on Memorial Day.  I don't see any notice of them delaying that opening on their site.

In other news about the park, it seems that a lot of customers who cancelled reservations due to the pandemic have been denied refunds.  The local news reports that they've been contacted by many visitors with the issue, and while there are always two sides to a story it certainly isn't the kind of press you want these days.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Palace Entertainment Parks Extend Season Passes to 2021 + Venus Vortex Delayed

© Palace Entertainment
Palace Entertainment, which owns and operates six amusement parks in North America and many water park and family entertainment centers, has provided some updates on their parks 2020 seasons.

While no opening days have been announced, the company has revealed that they are following the lead of Cedar Fair and extending all season passes for 2020 through the end of 2021.  This includes Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, Kennywood, Lake Compounce and StorylandCastle Park, which is located in California, will extend their season passes for as long as the park remains closed.

The extension of season passes is sure to sit nicely with fans of these parks in these uncertain times, as they wait to see when the parks are able to open for 2020.

© Lake Compounce
Lake Compounce was scheduled to open a giant new water slide in 2020, named Venus Vortex.  The towering thrill slide would send family rafts around a course and then down a steep plunge into a giant half pipe that's themed as a large venus flytrap.

Due to construction delays experienced by the park during the pandemic, they have made the tough decision to delay the opening of Venus Vortex until the park's 2021 season.  While it's sad to see the ride have to be pushed back, it is sure to still be enjoyed by thousands of visitors come next year.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Heard On... SeaWorld Entertainment's 1st Quarter 2020 Earnings Call

© SeaWorld Entertainment
Rounding out our normal trio of amusement and theme park earnings reports that we like to cover here is SeaWorld Entertainment, which had their announcement and conference call late last week.  Here are some tidbits from the earnings call that I found interesting.

• For the full quarter revenues were $153.6 million, down $67 million.  EBITDA was a loss of $30.9 million, a decrease of $47.3 million.  Attendance decreased by 1 million visitors for a total of 2.3 million.  These figures, of course, include the parks closing mid-March.

• For the first two months of the year results were promising.  Attendance was up 200k guests, or 9%, to a record 1.9 million visitors.  Revenues for that period was up $13 million, or 12%, to a record $120.6 million.
© SeaWorld Entertainment
• Before the parks closed the company had finished about 90% of all of their new for 2020 rides and attractions.  This also includes two rides in Texas that actually opened before the parks had to close.  The company will evaluate whether to finish and open the remaining rides in 2020 or push them to 2021 depending on the timing of the parks reopening.

• SeaWorld Entertainment has completed a private offering of $227.5 million, which now gives them just over $400 million in cash and cash equivalents.  They will be spending about $20 to $25 million per month, which means they can survive into late 2021.

• At the end of February the company's season pass base was up 2% over the prior year.  By the end of March the base was down 9%, which is similar to what we've seen with Six Flags but not Cedar Fair.  Current passholders have been given a free tier upgrade for their loyalty.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
• SeaWorld leaders are positive about the parks being visited when they reopen.  They note that 85% of their visitors come from within driving distance to the parks, and even the Orlando parks have more than 50% of attendance from visitors living within driving distance.  The parks have significant "excess capacity" that will allow people to safely distance themselves when they are ready to visit.  They will also long term focus on "execution, enhancing marketing initiatives, pricing strategies and new rides, attractions, events and offerings in every park, every year."

• When asked about what attendance is needed to operate the parks profitably, they said SeaWorld Orlando is an example where some days have 30k visitors, but others in off season have 5k and they still know how to run things cost-wise to keep it profitable.  But it sounds like they've stripped down their costs to a point where there will be no 'fluff' left when the parks reopen.  That's to offset costs that will come on board from the pandemic.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
• When pushed, the company seems to believe that the Texas parks will open first, probably followed by Florida.  That also aligns with what we've heard from other operators, such as Six Flags.  In additional to what is now seemingly common disinfecting, reduced capacity, employee masks and temperature checks, they are also looking at a reservation system and more in-park app features.

• The process of converting Aquatica San Diego into Sesame Place for 2021 is currently paused due to State requirements.  They're waiting to see when they can restart work and that will determine whether the park still opens in 2021 or if it is pushed back.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

From The Vault: Dorney Park's 1993 Brochure

© Dorney Park
I got my hands on another classic Dorney Park brochure, so of course it is time to share it here on NewsPlusNotes!

This is the park's general brochure for the 1993 season, which was its first full year under Cedar Fair ownership.  So the style of the brochure differs greatly from the years prior to it, as the park was now part of a larger corporation and no longer an independent property.

1993 was the start of many changes and much growth for the park.  Hours had changed and while there were some different ticket options you could still visit only Dorney Park or Wildwater Kingdom separately.

© Dorney Park
As the first full year of owning the park, that also means that Cedar Fair had the chance to start to expand it how they wanted.  The big new attraction was White Water Landing, a "world record holder" (along with its twin at Cedar Point) waterfall plunge ride.  The park also added the Red Garter Saloon, though it really didn't open until 1994, and also the Cedar Creek Cannonball train ride.

© Dorney Park
The rest of the brochure is a tribute to all that both Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom offered to visitors.  The text here mentions the expansive amount of children's attractions, including Chester Cheetah's Playland, which was sponsored by Frito-Lay.

© Dorney Park
Hello there Hercules.  I miss this ride!  Perhaps not because of the experience it provided in its later years, but mostly because of what could have been had the ride survived to the times when Rocky Mountain Construction existed.  Wildwater Kingdom was also one of the dominant water parks in the country at the time, and the still-pretty-new Pepsi Aquabast was one of the slides to beat.

© Dorney Park
The marketing push here is direct, take a read of the text on this spread.  That message has long been true, and certainly is today.  Probably why amusement parks have thrived for such a long time - offering a much needed break from normal life!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Cedar Fair Parks Update on What's Staying for 2020 and What's Pushed to 2021

© Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair has sent out updates for all their parks that detail what attractions and special events planned for 2020 will remain for 2020 when the parks can reopen, and which ones have been bumped to 2021.  Also, no estimated opening dates have been set for any parks yet, as they continue to work with local officials on the reopening process.

Instead of doing separate posts for each of the parks, here is one big summary of each of the updates from the properties.

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion will continue to debut their water park expansion, Coconut Shores, in 2020.  It will feature a new water fun house named Lighthouse Landing, and kiddie wave pool named Sand Dune Lagoon.  Grand Carnivale will be postponed until 2021, along with the Memorial Weekend Salute.  The park's Run & Ride event will only take place virtually.

Dorney Park will still open their new family water play area, Seaside Splashworks, in 2020.  They are also working on remodeling Center Stage and adding more green areas to the park.  Both the new Summer Nights block party event and Grand Carnivale will be postponed until 2021.

The two Schlitterbahn parks in Texas will have to delay their annual American Heroes Week for now.  The parks have already had a ton of changes done for 2020, all of which will remain.  These include remodeling entrances, painting and refurbishing slides, adding food options, more seating and more.

© Kings Island
Kings Island is still planning to open Orion, the park's new giga coaster, as soon as the park opens for 2020.  However, both the Summer Nights and Grand Carnivale special event celebrations are being postponed until 2021.

Michigan's Adventure's park update didn't specifically call out their new Camp Snoopy expansion in any way, though the expansion is still on the website as New For 2020 - so we will assume that remains true for now.

Valleyfair has been hard at work on several projects, all of which are still on for 2020.  These include the new Lakeshore Landing event space, renovated restrooms, changes to food offerings and more.  The park unfortunately will not have Monster Jam Thunder Alley in 2020.  They have also had to postpone both Grand Carnivale and The Peanuts Celebration until 2021.

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point has made the tough decision to postpone their 150th anniversary celebration until 2021.  That also includes their new attraction, Snake River Expedition, which won't open in 2020.  The Celebrate 150 Spectacular will also move to 2021, along with the opening of the new Town Hall and merchandise promotions.  The park's new food offerings will still open in 2020.  Essentially all other special events for the season, including Performances in the Park, Spring Youth & Education Programs, CoasterMania!, Frontier Festival, Coaster Campout, Run & Ride and Season Passholder Appreciation Weekend will all not take place in 2020.

California's Great America's update did not address their massive waterpark transformation, South Bay Shores, but it is largely completed and still shown as "opening soon" on the website.  The park will not hold their Red, White and Brews festival this year, and Monster Jam Thunder Alley will no longer take place in 2020.

Worlds of Fun's new waterslide, Riptide Raceway, is still planned to open when the park is able to in 2020.  The park's special events Summer Nights and Grand Carnivale will be postponed until 2021.

© Knott's Berry Farm
Like Cedar Point's tough decision, Knott's Berry Farm has also decided to postpone their 100th anniversary celebration until 2021.  The park's new ride, Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, will be ready when the park reopens in 2020.  Ghost Town Alive! will also not take place in 2020, but will return in 2021.  The Knott's Chicken-To-Go Restaurant, Farm Bakery and Knott's Berry Market are open in limited capacity for to go orders.

Carowinds will still open their new water slide, Boogie Board Racer, in 2020.  Two events, Carolina Summer Nights and Grand Carnivale will be postponed to 2021.  Monster Jam Thunder Alley will take place in 2020.

Finally, Canada's Wonderland posted that both of their new attractions, Mountain Bay Cliffs and Beagle Brigade Airfield, should be completed within a month and will still open in 2020.

We heard on Cedar Fair's conference call that a lot of capital was cut from the 2020 season, and now we can see that a significant portion of that was in festivals and other limited time events.  While sad to see so many items pushed off a year, it's still better to have them at the parks when they can fully be enjoyed!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 1st Quarter 2020 Earnings Call

© Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair has held their 1st quarter of 2020 earnings conference call, just like we saw from Six Flags this past week.  The company's call is more focused on the pandemic and Cedar Fair's reaction to it, and as usual what follows are some notes from the call.

• Revenues for the quarter were $54 million, down from $67 million last year.  Attendance was down 239k from last year, and out of park revenues were also down $3 million.  This of course is because of the parks closing in the middle of March.

Before the parks, which was really just Knott's Berry Farm, closed in mid-March attendance was up 149k visits or 19%, and revenues were up $8 million - a really record strong start to the season.  During the last two weeks of March with no parks open Cedar Fair estimates it lost 388k in visits and $20 million in revenues.

© Knott's Berry Farm
 • At the end of the 1st quarter season pass sales were still up 30% over the prior period, even considering the pandemic.  Deferred revenues were $195 million at the end of the quarter, up $33 million over last year.

• After a recent bond sale and expanded revolving credit lines, Cedar Fair has liquidity is around $821 million, with a monthly cash burn rate of $30 - $40 million.  However if the parks stay closed a long time they will reduce more monthly expenses.  Specifically that is if the parks can't open at all in 2020.

• As far as the Cedar Fair parks reopening, the CEO had a somber take on things: “We continue to work closely with local and state health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the best information we have currently, we do not anticipate resuming operations at any of our parks in the near term. This projection remains fluid and subject to change as the situation evolves, including if state and local guidelines are modified.” 

• More on reopening.  They understand that due to their seasonal nature, "it is important that we’re able to restart the parks with a reasonable number of operating days remaining in the year."  They will need two to three weeks to open a park once they are given the go ahead.
© Cedar Fair

• When parks reopen there will be employee wellness checks, increased sanitizing and disinfecting on all surfaces, social distancing on rides and in all food and retail locations, extra hand washing stations for guests and expanded use of mobile apps to create contactless transactions.  I did not see anything about face masks.

• Similar to Six Flags, the Cedar Fair parks will also use a reservation system to limit daily attendance.  They potentially will also utilize virtual queues and a broader rollout of food and beverage ordering through the park's app.  Most of the parks operate normally at about 50% of theoretical capacity, even when Cedar Point does 50k guests a day that isn't full theoretical capacity.  This will allow them to operate parks at dramatically less than theoretical capacity and still be operationally profitable.

• They were asked which parks might open first, but didn't really give a specific answer.  Just that each park will be different, probably at a different time, and all depends on local officials and their plans.

© Cedar Fair
 • They were asked about the big 2020 celebrations of Knott's 100th and Cedar Point's 150th, if they would be pushed to next year, and Cedar Fair said they're still studying that and waiting to see when the parks can open.  They did however say that they already "announced" that some of the limited time events like Grand Carnivale won't take place this summer.  No parks were mentioned specifically, but after a light search I did notice that Grand Carnivale is no longer on Dorney Park and Kings Dominion's special events page.

• As stated previously, the company has deferred or eliminated $75 - $100 million in capital expenditures for 2020 and 2021.  The call mentioned that in 2020 they will spend $85 - $100 million on capital expenditures and note that the majority of that will be spent by the end of the 2nd quarter.  To me, that means a very lean 2021 roster of new items in the parks.

Hersheypark's New Candymonium Coaster Begins Testing

© Hersheypark
As construction projects have begun to be allowed again in the State of Pennsylvania, Hersheypark has picked up where they left off on their massive Chocolatetown expansion.  Before the construction pause the park had finished the track and supports for Candymonium, and now we have footage from some of the coaster's first test runs!

The park has shared this footage on all their various social media outlets, and it's great to see a new coaster roaring through the tracks!  I must say that Candymonium looks to have some nice speed through its layout, especially in the turnaround.  As with other hyper coasters, air-time will be one of the main draws for the coaster.  With a multitude of bunny hills throughout the course, this ride is sure to deliver.

Here is another video of Candymonium testing, featuring plenty of footage from different angles.  Some of the best views can be found at the end, so be sure not to miss those.

Candymonium is one of B&M's popular hyper coasters, standing 210 feet tall, with a maximum speed of 76 miles per hour and 4,636 feet of track.  While no official opening date for Hersheypark has been released, I'm sure plenty of fans will visit the park this summer to check out the new ride.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Shanghai Disneyland Will Reopen to Visitors on May 11th

© Shanghai Disneyland
After being one of the first major theme parks to close due to the pandemic, Shanghai Disneyland has announced that it will reopen to visitors on May 11th - just 5 days from now.

According to the park, the reopening will "demonstrate a deliberate approach, drawing on the experience from the successful reopening of Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel in early March, and implement enhanced health and safety measures."  The park will have a new set of precautions in place to protect both workers and visitors, all with the goal of implementing both social distancing and sanitizing measures.

Guests will be asked to wear masks the entire time they are in the park, and there will be temperature screenings before they are allowed to enter Shanghai Disneyland.
© Shanghai Disneyland
The park will reopen with very limited attendance, and guests must register their visit beforehand as ticket sales will not be available at the park.  Shanghai Disneyland can accommodate 80,000 guests, and Disney has agreed with the Government to limit that to around 24,000 - however Disney has further said that upon opening attendance will be capped at considerably less than that.

© Shanghai Disneyland
The park will also have social distancing measures set up in ride, food and retail queues, on rides themselves, in sit-down restaurants and everywhere else in the park.  Above is an example of stickers placed throughout the park to show guests where to stand to keep appropriate distance from one another.  Children's play areas and live shows will not be featured as part of the park's initial reopening - this includes both parades and nighttime spectaculars.

None of that is very surprising, as it is important to not offer experiences that basically force guests to stand or sit together in crowded spaces.  It also sounds as though characters will only appear from afar for now.

While encouraging to see a large park in Asia open again, it feels like it still could be some time until we see the large theme parks in America open.  There are varying opinions about that out there, and aside from parks needing to be allowed to open - and that's by not means looking immediate - there are questions of if operating large theme parks at restricted capacity even makes them financially viable.

One day at a time for now, and we'll be sure to keep watch on how the Shanghai Disneyland opening goes.