Sunday, November 22, 2020

Alabama Adventure to Unwrap 2021 Addition on Christmas Morning


© Alabama Adventure
We don't know exactly what yet, but Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure has something significant planned for their 2021 season, and are promising to reveal it as a holiday gift on Christmas Morning.


The park has posted this teaser on their social media, which is a slow zoom out of a giant gift that's sitting atop a section of the amusement park.  The box is of substantial size, and if the unnamed attraction does take up that whole area, we're looking at something pretty big.  The reason I saw that is because the box is encompassing a decent amount of the layout of the park's former log flume, which was removed years ago.


© Google Maps
Here's a look at this section of the park before the current owners started to rebuild and redevelop the park, with the log flume still standing.  The cleared area is a large rectangle, which could fit many rides, really.  One would assume that the attraction will be a ride in Alabama Adventure and not a water ride in Splash Adventure, but then again the park recently redeveloped an area that you can see at the lower right of the top image into a children's area of the water park.  Still, my guess would be a ride for the dry side of the park.


There are numerous small layout coasters on the market today that would seemingly fit here, but the park's hot Alabama summers also mean a water ride would be well received.  Even a large spectacular style flat ride might get the park the attention they're after.  For now only the park knows!


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience to Open at Dutch Wonderland in December


© Dutch Wonderland
We are continuing to see parks who normally have a holiday event turn them into either walk through or drive through experiences this year in order to keep visitors safe during the pandemic.  Dutch Wonderland has joined the list by debuting Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience, a way for guests to get out and see some dazzling displays from the safety of their own vehicle.


The Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience is an extensive trek covering 1.5 miles around the park's property, specifically the Old Mill Steam Campground (not the theme park proper).  The park is promising to delight visitors with "whimsical scenes, hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, and special surprises" along the way.


© Dutch Wonderland
The park will also have their entrance Castle open for visitors to do some holiday shopping, get a cup of hot cocoa and even take socially distanced photos with Santa!  Plus, the famous Wonderland Special train ride will be operating for a trip down the holiday tracks.


Dutch Wonderland season passholders will receive a 50% discount on their admission to the Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience.  The event will start on December 2nd and run through New Year's Eve.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Holiday In The Park Lights to Open at Six Flags New England November 27th


© Six Flags New England
Anxious visitors will be able to set foot into Six Flags New England once again this winter as the park debuts Holiday in the Park Lights, starting November 27th.  The theme park did not open at all in 2020 and the holiday event will not include any rides, but the park will still be happy to show off their festive best for visitors.  Holiday in the park Lights will be a walk-through experience featuring more than one million holiday lights plus live entertainment and more.


The family fun includes a one-way walk through experience, which is in accordance with the state of Massachusetts' safety guidelines with regard to the pandemic.  In addition to large portions of the park being totally covered in lights there will also be a choreographed light show, enchanting characters, fire pits to make s'mores at and other holiday food treats.  The light trail extends more than one mile inside the park.


© Six Flags New England

“Six Flags New England is a beloved destination for families from throughout New England.  We look forward to welcoming families back to our park this November with our newly enhanced light displays.  As always, the safety of our guests and team members remains our number one priority, and the new safety guidelines we have put in place are designed to create a safe environment for everyone,” said Six Flags New England, Park President Pete Carmichael. “The park has been transformed into an enchanting, winter wonderland and we are all eager to safely welcome our guests back for the holiday season.”    


Reservations will be required for a visit to Six Flags New England's Holiday in the Park Lights, and season pass holders and members receive free admission.  The event will operate on select nights through January 3rd, 2021.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Adventureland has Completed Dragon Slayer's Layout


© Adventureland
Adventureland Theme Park in Iowa has completed the main track and supports for Dragon Slayer, their new S&S 4-D Free Spin roller coaster.  With the ride completed, we're able to see that this appears to be a slightly smaller model than what we've seen installed at various Six Flags parks (and a few other locations).  It looks like one hill was removed from the highest layer, and a dip or so was removed from the middle layer.

 

That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it is possible that S&S has streamlined the ride's layout to get the most bang for the buck, and as we know with these rides the amount of overall intensity and flipping is up to the park.


© Adventureland
You can get a good side-view of the completed ride in this post on Reddit, it allows for a nice comparison to the larger rides.  The ride's trains have also already arrived, seen above in the photo from the park.  Dragon Slayer replaces the park's Dragon coaster, a Hopkins ride that opened in 1990.  As of now it appears as the park will be leaving the Dragon's famous double loops standing.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Six Flags Magic Mountain to Hold Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain will be opening for the holiday season after all, though this year by presenting Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience.  Visitors will be able to drive their way through the park past millions of lights, festive decorations and with holiday music incorporated into the experience.


The event will start at 6 pm on select nights from November 20th through January 3rd, 2021.  Obviously, as a drive through experience guests will not be able to partake in any of Six Flags Magic Mountain's rides or attractions.


"Holiday in the Park Drive-thru Experience will include eight distinctly different areas throughout the park with millions of twinkling lights choreographed to festive music, beloved holiday characters decked out for the holidays, iconic Holiday in the Park decorations, and a drive-by featuring Santa and his elves. New this year, go for a ride in The Underground featuring several of the famous West Coast Customs show cars on display."


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
To further accommodate social distancing, visitors will be able to pre-purchase festive food and gifts that will be delivered to their vehicle upon arrival.  Holiday Snack Packs include hot chocolate, cookies, candy and popcorn in a souvenir bucket.  Fudge and even funnel cakes will also be available.   There are also merchandise bundles that include items such as holiday face masks, glow necklaces and more.


Reservations are required for the Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience, and Six Flags season pass holders and members have free admission.  The price per car varies by night, but right now for the earliest dates range from $20 to $25, though I do not see dates listed yet closer to Christmas.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Busch Gardens Tampa Releases Iron Gwazi POV


© Busch Gardens Tampa
While we do not know an exact date that we can take a ride on Busch Gardens Tampa's new Iron Gwazi roller coaster, we now can take a virtual ride!  The theme park has released the highly anticipated point of view virtual ride on the monster coaster, which is North America's tallest, the world's fastest and the world's steepest hybrid roller coaster.


Iron Gwazi is the rebirth of the former dueling Gwazi wooden roller coasters.  The new ride stands 206 feet tall and features a 206 foot first drop at an amazing 91 degrees.  The trains hit a top speed of 76 miles per hour as they traverse 4,075 feet of track, encountering two inversions and some of the most devious elements that Rocky Mountain Construction has cooked up to date.


Iron Gwazi is scheduled to open at Busch Gardens Tampa Spring 2021, with more information coming as we get closer to that date.  For now, have fun on your virtual rides!



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 3rd Quarter 2020 Earnings Call


© Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair recently announced their earnings results for the 3rd quarter of 2020.  The results were somewhat in line with what was expected, given the pandemic that continues.  The operator released the full earnings on their website and also had their usual conference call.  Here are some notes from both.


• They had 7 parks open during the quarter, bringing in a total of $87 million in revenues, down from $715 last year.  Attendance was 1.3 million, which is down 11.7 million.  Out of park revenues were down $47 million.


• Operating costs declined during the quarter to match decreased attendance levels.  There were also $16 million in goodwill impairment charges for the Schlitterbahn parks and Dorney Park, plus on the Schlitterbahn brand name.  Operating loss for the quarter was $137 million, down from a positive $275 million last year.  There was an EBITDA loss of $51 million compared to a positive $355 million last year.  While a loss is not good, Cedar Fair estimates that the loss would have been $30 million worse if they hadn't opened the parks.

 

• Similar to Six Flags, Cedar Fair saw initial attendance levels at 20-25% of previous levels when the parks reopened, increasing to 35-40% in the past three months.  As the season ended some parks even hit 50%, and in the fall both Cedar Point and Kings Island had instances of hitting their maximum capacities.


© Cedar Fair
• During the 3rd quarter the attendance was made up of 55% season pass holders, up from 46% last year.  Per capital revenue was down 5%, largely on decreased admissions and the lack of in park spending on premium offerings like fast lane.


• Cedar Fair saw an increase of 90,000 season passes during the quarter, creating $10 million in sales.  They have 1.8 million season passes outstanding that are valid for the rest of 2020 and in 2021.


• They had $225 million in the bank at the end of the quarter, and total liquidity is $877 million.  They estimate they can stay satisfy obligations and stay within loan covenants until the end of 2021.  The quarter's cash burn was about $25 million a month.  As for breaking event, to have zero EBITDA they need 45-55% of 2019 attendance in 2021, and for cash flow break even they need 70-75% of 2019 attendance.


• They suspended their largest capital projects in March and year to date have spent $120 million on capital.  They estimate spending at most $5 million in the 4th quarter.  In total that will have cut $60 - $65 million from planned capital in 2020.


© Cedar Fair
• For 2021 they acknowledge there is not much visibility around the pandemic, so they are allowing parks to be flexible in their offerings to bring back guests.  They are adding back many immersive attractions along with Knott's and Cedar Point's large anniversary celebrations.


• The company is current on payables for capital project and have "no material long term commitments for new attractions" which gives them flexibility for what they will add in 2021 and 2022.  Those years will depend on the speed of the recovery from the pandemic.  Many 2020 capital projects did not even get to be used by guests.  So for 2021 capital will focus on finishing those projects, and doing necessary compliant and infrastructure work.  Still, they will not estimate capital spend for 2021 yet due to lack of clarity on the pandemic.


• To date the company has restricted back filling jobs that are open due to people leaving for other work.  That along with removing some positions through streamlining has reduced 10% of the full time work force.  However, they are still reviewing other options for the future.


• They also utilized cheaper social media marketing this year to spread the word that parks were reopening, which they found to be a success.  They plan to rely on this more in the future to save money on more traditional avenues of advertising.


• Looking at 2021, they are preparing to operating based off of lessons learned in 2020.  This could include delaying park openings or adjusting park hours if they feel the market demand won't make it profitable.  It also sounds like if California continues to not allow parks to open into next year they will look at holding food festivals at California's Great America, similar to what Knott's has done.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Kings Dominion to Open in December for Taste of the Season


© Kings Dominion
With revised capacity limitations now in place in Virginia, Kings Dominion has announced that they will be opening in 2020 in order to hold Taste of the Season, a new limited time holiday event.  The event, like we've seen at Carowinds and Knott's Berry Farm, will be centered around the use of tasting cards to try out delicious seasonal treats while at the outdoor event.


The park will offer visitors a choice of 25 different food items, all with a "Christmas twist." From sweet to savory, there will be something for everyone in the family at Taste of the Season.  There will also be special beverages created by "Santa's mixologists," and other must have treats.  Each tasting card will allow guests a specific number of tastes, and other locations in the park will be open for guests to use their dining plans, should they have one.


© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion will decorate fully for the event, with tons of lights and other holiday decorations throughout the park.  There will be special activities such as a digital scavenger hunt and distanced selfies with Santa as well.  Plus holiday shopping will be available at the park's stores, there will be games for the whole family and live entertainment as well.


Ride fans will be happy to know that they will get a chance to get in some thrills at Kings Dominion during the event.  The park plans to have open select rides in Planet Snoopy, some family rides like the Grand Carousel and bumper cars and for true thrills, Delirium and Dominator.


© Kings Dominion
Taste of the Season reservations and ticket purchases must be made ahead of time on the park's website.  All 2020 season passes and 2021 season passes are valid for entry as well.  Safety standards that have been put at place at all Cedar Fair parks will be utilized for the event.  The first night of Taste of the Season will be December 5th, continuing select nights through December 27th.  Watch for reservations for the event to open soon!


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Kennywood Announces the Removal of 4 Classic Flat Rides


© Kennywood
Kennywood has announced on social media that the park is removing four of their classic flat rides before the start of next season.  The park notes that the removals come as they have invested more in new rides and attractions in the past three seasons than they have in any other period in the park's history.


The rides include the Kangaroo, which was a very unique ride for North America, and while I'm not sure, possibly the world.  It's quirky nature gathered it a lot of fans over the years, and it dates back to 1964.


© Kennywood

© Kennywood
Kennywood's Paratrooper and the Bayern Kurve are also slated to be removed before the start of the park's 2021 season.  Paratroopers can be found at many parks, and fairs for that matter, less so with the Bayern Kurve.  Sure, there are still some out there but certainly not at every park.


© Kennywood
Finally, the park's Enterprise, Volcano, will also be leaving.  These rides are quickly becoming a relic when you can find them.


Kennywood made it clear that part of the park's "evolution is a continuous examination of the sustainability, capacity and popularity of our attraction lineup" and that led to the removal of these rides.  


We recently saw Six Flags state on their earnings call that they would remove 15 rides from their parks before 2021.  With the pandemic still raging on, one has to think that all parks are looking at how much their rides cost to maintain and operate, and sadly I think these removals will be the start of a larger trend of cleaning out some older rides.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Enchanted Forest Theme Park Turns to Fans for Help to Survive


© Enchanted Forest
The current pandemic has hit Oregon's Enchanted Forest theme park especially hard, having to stay closed for most of the year.  When it was allowed to open, it had a maximum capacity of only 250 people, including employees.  Needless to say, this year has been a huge financial drain on the park, and it's now turning to its fans to help it survive into 2021.


Enchanted Forest is a family owned and operated fairy tale themed park, with three generations of family members currently working at it.  The park will celebrate 50 years of operations in 2021 and are doing whatever they can to make it to that season.  The park went into 2020 with no debt, but due to the pandemic they are now taking on more and more debt and things are getting worse for them.


© Enchanted Forest
To that end they've started to hold online auctions of memorabilia and original creations by the park's founder Roger Tofte, and also holding a gofundme effort.  The gofundme has already raised more than $300,000 for the park, and even the official gofundme team made a donation to their efforts.  The park has set of goal of raising $500,000, which would carry them through the winter months and hopefully allow them to open for their 50th anniversary season on March 19th, 2021.


© Enchanted Forest
Ride fans may know the park for being home to the Ice Mountain Bobsled roller coaster, a bizarre but very interesting ride that was mostly created in house.  The ride's cars of coverings with holes in them that remind me of a pet carrier... but the ride certainly seems like a treasure.  The park has plenty of other offerings, including attractions and rides for kids and families.


Hopefully the fundraising efforts will continue to pay off and Enchanted Forest will be able to once again open to families in 2021!


Friday, November 6, 2020

'Tis The Season for Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Christmas Celebration


© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg will continue their operations into the winter months with their Christmas Celebration event, the park has announced.  The holiday cheer-fest will start on November 13th and run select nights and days through January 3rd.


The limited capacity event will offer plenty of family fun with a significant portion of the theme park operating.  These areas include England, Scotland, Ireland, France, New France, Germany, Oktoberfest and Sesame Street Forest of Fun.  The park will be covered in twinkling lights, there will be plenty of festive food offerings, shopping and live entertainment too.  Plus, special activities such as a Gingerbread Scavenger Hunt, a meet and greet with Frosty and photos with Santa will be available.


© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
For ride lovers, there will be a total of 15 rides and attractions operating during Christmas Celebration.  These include InvadR, Alpengeist, Verbolten and Grover's Alpine Express along with plenty of flat rides and kiddie rides.

 

There will be different sessions on some days as with past events this year at the park.  Some days only have an evening session from 5pm to 10 pm, but others have an additional session from 10am to 3pm.  Reservations are required for a visit.  The park recently benefited from having their maximum capacity increased from 1,000 guests per session to an amount based on a percent of theoretical capacity, which the park estimates raises the amount to 4,000 or so. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Former Geauga Lake Property to be Become Multipurpose Development


 © ICP
After being for sale for many years, the former site of Geauga Lake amusement park (and the former Sea World Ohio, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure and Wildwater Kingdom) has been sold by Cedar Fair for redevelopment to Industrial Commercial Properties.  The sale includes 377 acres of land, and the site will be transformed into a mix of retail, restaurants, residential and commercial spaces.


To be known as The Geauga Lake District, it will include design elements that pay homage to the parks that operated in the space, specifically Geauga Lake from 1887 until 2007.  In the concept art for the development up top you can see a faux roller coaster design that will be found just inside the main road to the area (known as Geauga Lake Boulevard).  The area immediately surrounding the actual lake will remain open for public use as well.


ICP Officials on site at Geauga Lake © ICP
"Many of us that grew up in Northeast Ohio have fond memories of the park, and it was important to our development team, the Trustees and the Mayor that we respect the remarkable history of the property and take great care in creating design elements like the signage, landscaping, lighting, and other public improvements at the site," said Chris Salata, ICP's chief operating officer.  

 

The developers note that the "time is here to say final goodbyes to remnants of Geauga Lake Park and Sea World," sad of course, but it has been over a decade since the park last operated.  There is a chance that some old roller coaster cars from the park might be displayed in public spaces around the site.


The first company to sign on to The Geauga Lake District is Menards, a family owned home improvement store, which will take up 24 acre of the site.  You can read more details on the development in this news article from Industrial Commercial Properties.


Monday, November 2, 2020

Disneyland Paris Resort Closes Again Due to Pandemic


© Disneyland Paris Resort
The Disneyland Paris Resort has closed once again (as of October 29th) due to the pandemic, with increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases across Europe.  The decision was made from the direction of French authorities, which are trying to contain the number of new cases and closing many other businesses as well.


The situation is fluid and right now the Disneyland Paris Resort is hoping that they can open for the popular Christmas season.  They are taking reservations for visits from December 19th through January 3rd, and are hopeful they can welcome guests at that time.  However, it is not certain that that will be the case.  


Even if they are able to open again for the holidays, the park has already announced that it will stay closed from January 4th through at least February 12th.  Of course, as we've seen all year long those plans can change at any moment.


Amusement and theme parks in other European countries such as Italy, Belgium and Germany have also been closing to try to contain the spread of the virus.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Universal Orlando Previews 2021 Halloween Horror Nights House + Opens Beetlejuice House for Halloween Weekend


© Universal
No one was able to experience the full Halloween Horror Nights experience at Universal Orlando in 2020, but as previously covered the park did open two haunted houses as a special treat for fans looking for a thrill.  The park has already set its sights on the 2021 Halloween Horror Nights event, which (god willing) will take place a year from now.


In a special movie that the park released, a house that was created for 2020 but will not open until 2021 has been revealed: Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience.  If you do not want any spoilers for the house, the video may not be for you.  If you're interested though, it shows off a great deal of what's waiting for guests inside including the attraction's backstory, sets, some of the scares and more.  


Here is the complete look at Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience:

Definitely something to look forward to for next year!


Also this weekend Universal Studios Florida surprised their guests by opening their haunted house based on the Beetlejuice movie as a Halloween treat.  

 

The sudden debut attracted a tons of fans to the park to check out the haunted house, which is also expected to return in 2021 for a full Halloween Horror Nights event.  


If you look not so hard you can find footage from inside the house, but since it was a special preview and the house is returning next year I'm not going to link to any video here.  The house does look pretty interesting though, and features a lot of memorable scenes from the movie.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Carowinds Taste of the Season Outdoor Holiday Experience to Open November 21st


© Carowinds
Despite not opening during the earlier portions of the 2020 season, Carowinds fans will get the chance to visit the park for the holiday season when it debuts Taste of the Season, a new special event.  Centered around the holidays, the park will be decked out in its finest and feature a selection of family fun designed to bring out the merry in everyone.


The outdoor holiday food festival will feature more than 30 different foods to sample, and visitors can purchase a tasting card before arriving at the park.  The cards will allow a certain number of tastings for each visitor who purchases one, but there's more to Taste of the Season than just the food!


© Carowinds

Visitors will also have their first chance to soar on a select few of Carowinds' rides during the event.  For families, all of Camp Snoopy will be operating and for those who need a thrill ride fix, the park is opening Copperhead Strike, Afterburn and Ricochet.  


Among the twinkling lights that will cover the park, there will be more family fun available as well.  There will be live entertainment, plenty of shopping opportunities, safely distanced photos with Santa, games and more.  Carowinds is looking to hit it out of the park with all they are offering, and plan on releasing even more details on the event as its opening draws closer.


A visit to Carowinds' Taste of the Season will require a reservation, so watch on the park's website for when those become available.  Attendance is limited for safety, so make reservations ahead of time!  The event will run select days between November 21st and December 20th.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Heard On... Six Flags Entertainment's Q3 2020 Earnings Call


© Six Flags Entertainment

Today was Six Flags Entertainment's earnings call for the 3rd quarter of 2020.  The company sent out a full press release detailing their results, available here.  No one expected the numbers to be great during these pandemic times, but there are still some very interesting takeaways from both the release and the call that they had today.  Here are some notes.


• In the third quarter attendance was 2.6 million guests, down 11.4 million from the same quarter of 2019.  Total revenue was $116 million, down $495 million from last year.  This resulted in a net loss of $116 million, with an EBITDA loss of $54 million.  The company spent $82 million in cash during the quarter, or around $27 million per month.

 

© Six Flags

• Nine of the company's parks remained closed during the 3rd quarter, out of 26 total.  Attendance at the operating parks started at around 20-25% of prior year totals, increasing to 35% in the 3rd quarter.  They also had a $22 million decline in park licensing agreements, mostly from the cancelled parks in China.  There was also a $9 million write off of park ride assets, more on that in a bit.


• The company's active pass base at the end of the quarter was down 49%, to a total of 1.9 million compared to 2.6 million at the end of the 3rd quarter 2019.  There is another 1.9 million regular season pass holders as well.


• At quarter end Six Flags Entertainment had $673 in liquidity (cash they have or can borrow).  They continue to reduce operating expenses, including deferring or eliminating capital discretionary capital projects for 2020 and 2021.  They still feel that even if all parks close they could sustain the company through the end of 2021.


© Six Flags

• Company leaders have a Transformation Plan underway to change some aspect of the company, utilizing technology to find cost savings and increase revenue.  They've spent just under $30 million year to date on the plan, including consultant fees, costs associated with layoffs and ride retirement write offs.  They expect the Transformation Plan to create $80 to $110 in new EBITDA per year when complete.


• The Plan will modernize park operations and improve the guest experience.  The effort is so large that a new office will house employees dedicated to it starting in Q2 2021.  

 

• For costs, they will optimize the corporate structure, reduce non-labor expenses, and optimize labor costs at the parks.  This includes reducing layers in the corporate structure (see recent layoffs) and creating a shared services area that will do certain jobs for the parks centrally - like finance, human resources and information technology.  They are also eliminating two satellite offices the company had and changing travel and expense policies to reduce costs.  They will also centralize purchasing, so each property isn't buying the same items at different costs; for example they said buying the same lettuce for all parks will save $40k a year.


• More on costs.  They are also looking at ride maintenance budgets and by optimizing ride offerings they can save enough to build one new ride per year (not at each park, just one new ride).  However, this means that they've found 15 rides that are currently being removed from the parks.  To do this they looked at operating costs versus rider throughput... so expensive to operate, low capacity rides are on the way out.  They has let them see what rides are great for each park, what ones need to be refurbished and which ones will be eliminated.  No word on what the 15 rides are... but you can be sure we all want to know.  They also used the term "redeploy" with regard to some rides, saying they can be "redeployed to other parks in lieu of actually spending new marketable capital."  So it sounds like the old Six Flags ride relocation program may be coming back.


© Six Flags

• As for increasing revenues from the Transformation Plan.  This will be done through improved guest experience, improved websites, pricing and promotions, media spending and culinary offerings.  The guest improvements include reservations, prepaid parking, mobile ordering, contactless transactions etc.  They tested a new website in August and saw double digit increases in online sales, and have since rolled out the new website for all parks.  They're using targeted advertising and increasing spending on ads by one additional percent of revenue.  Finally, they are aware that food scores on satisfaction are low, so they are working to offer a better product that will make guests happy and increase revenue.


• Attendance in October has been hitting 50% and higher of prior year attendance, in some places even beating prior year attendance.  During the quarter attendance at the drive through safari in New Jersey was 371,000.


• In order to breakeven and have 0 EBITDA instead of a loss, they estimate they need 45% to 55% of 2019's attendance.  In order to have a breakeven of cash flow, they think they would need 65% to 75% of 2019 attendance.  For cash, those percentages would cover interest payments and partnership park distributions. 

 

• When asked about capital expenditures for 2021 leaders stated they're still doing analysis and due to ever changing market conditions related to the pandemic, it's too early to forecast what they'll spend.  So no real update on if the 2020 rides will open in 2021, or if their will be additional ones too.  They said they will updated again on the next call, which would be in January.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Knott's Berry Farm to Celebrate the Season with Knott's Taste of Merry Farm Special Event


© Knott's Berry Farm

Halloween may be this coming weekend, but Knott's Berry Farm is already getting ready for the next big holiday with today's announcement of the Knott's Taste of Merry Farm event.  Continuing their trend of offering guests seasonal food and retail events while the rides remain closed, the park is going to get totally decked out for holiday fun.


Running select days November 20th through January 3rd, Knott's Taste of Merry Farm will celebrate the "merriest season of all" with plenty of family fun.  Visitors will find "enchanted d├ęcor, thousands of twinkling lights, miles of festive garland, and a variety of picturesque holiday settings, all serving as a backdrop to the tastiest holiday foods around."

 

© Knott's Berry Farm

The only way to access the event is through purchasing a tasting card, which run $40 for adults and $20 for kids - season pass holders will receive a discount on their purchase.  The park will offer a total of 60  food and beverage options, and the park's unique gift stores will be open along with 23 local crafters.  A visit to the park will not only be quite filling, but also offer a great way to check holiday gifts off the list for everyone!


Knott's Taste of Merry Farm tasting cards are specific to a certain date, and reservations are required along with the tickets.  Admission per day is limited for safety, so if you're planning a visit make sure to schedule in advance as many dates are expected to sell out quickly!


Monday, October 26, 2020

Disneyland Resort Expands Downtown Disney to Include Part of Disney California Adventure


© Google Maps

With no solid possibility of reopening their theme parks any time in the near future, the Disneyland Resort has decided to expand their shopping and dining options by expanding the Downtown Disney District.  Starting in November, the front section of Disney California Adventure will be open to guests, allowing them to shop and dine at select locations.


With fans desperate to get back into the parks, this is fairly big news for the resort.  Downtown Disney has already seen a steady flow of visitors who want their taste of the Disneyland Resort, even if they can't experience their favorite attraction.  Now they'll be able to step foot into one of the park, exploring the offerings of Buena Vista Street.

 

© Disney

The area will be reopening just in time for visitors to do some holiday shopping in stores such as Elias & Co, which features tons of Disney merchandise for men, women and children.  Also opening is Julius Katz & Sons, featuring holiday merchandise and home decor and the Kingswell Camera Shop with frames, photo albums and more.


Food options will also be expanded through the expanded offerings.  Trolley Treats will offer classic candies and confections and Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe will have artisan sandwiches and coffees.  Many fans are excited to learn that the area will also have vending carts, offering park classics such as popcorn, churros, ice creams and other famous snacks.


© Disney

Finally, for a full meal the park will reopen the Carthay Circle Lounge, featuring expanded outdoor seating and a new menu for dining and cocktails.  Smokejumpers Grill will also reopen, serving classics for lunch and dinner like burgers, fries, craft beer and more.


All existing safety protocols will be in place within the expanded Downtown Disney District as it welcome Buena Vista Street into the fold.  And remember, in 2020 a little of something is better than nothing!


Sunday, October 25, 2020

S&S - Sansei Reveal Spin Shot Tower Retrofit for Existing Tower Rides


© S&S - Sansei

Parks with existing S&S tower rides have a new option on the table for thrilling their guests, as S&S - Sansei Technologies has debuted the new Spin Shot Tower attraction concept.  The company has created a design that will allowed their 4D Free Spin coaster seats to be installed on existing tower rides, which then can be blasted up and down while fully rotating.


According to S&S, the ride profile (how many times riders invert, etc) can be programmed differently for each park.  That allows a full spectrum of mild to really wild, featuring face-up, face-down and even upside down experiences during the ride.  The spinning is mechanically controller and endlessly customizable.


© S&S - Sansei

The attraction has been designed with these tough times in mind.  To help parks with limited budgets the retrofit of an existing S&S tower can be done modestly, at least compared to a brand new ride or roller coaster.  Executive Director of Sales & Marketing, Josh Hays said, “Our CEO, Tim Timco, challenged us to develop an exciting attraction that parks could offer their customers at a modest budget. We believe our talented engineering team has met that goal. Parks want to offer their guests new and exciting experiences every year. That is a difficult task right now, but we believe our new Spin Shot Tower will allow parks with existing tower rides to reward their guests with a thrilling experience that doesn’t break the bank.”


Check out the below video of the concept in action - it looks like a ton of fun and I can't wait to see which park signs up to be the first!



Saturday, October 24, 2020

Universal Studios Beijing Attraction Roster and Details Revealed in New Updates


© Universal Studios Beijing

Universal Studios Beijing is getting closer to its grand opening in 2021, with the final states of the park's construction now underway.  That means it's time for the press machine to start up, and thankfully that means much more concept art and details for us.


While the basics of the park were already known, this information release contains another level of detail that we haven't seen before.  As a recap the park will consist of 7 lands: Hollywood, Transformers Metrobase, Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, Waterworld, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World Isla Nublar and Minion Land.  


© Universal Studios Beijing

It will have a mix of attractions that can be found at other Universal theme parks, however there will a selection of unique attractions as well.  For instance, Jurassic World Isla Nublar will feature an indoor dark ride named the Jurassic World Adventure - this is one to watch as so many of us have longed for an intense Jurassic Park themed dark ride for many years.  The greater Jurassic World section will be unique as well, offering The Aviary with a suspended powered coaster to boot.


The Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure has been replicated at the park, though now called the Decepticoaster - the theming on the launch is top notch!  Minion Land is a super silly fun place for kids to explore, with smaller attractions both indoor and outdoors.  The Kung Fu themed section is largely indoors, which will allow the park to make a realistic nighttime setting which is sure to amaze.  Both Waterworld, which is just the stunt show, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are now staple attractions at Universal Parks that will be found in China as well.


The below video will take you through all the attractions and hotels at the resort, showing off never before seen concept art and details.  Also, since the park is so far along in construction there are tons of great photos coming out from workers and the press - check out a huge selection of them at this link on ThemeParx.



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

California Releases Strict Rules for Parks Reopening During Pandemic


© CDPH & CAL OSHA
All California theme parks have stayed shuttered during the pandemic, with only some opening in order to have special food and retail festivals or operate as zoos.  While parks in some parts of the country opened as early as June, there have been no rides operating in California since March, or so.  Recently the parks across the state have urged the California Governor to release a plan so that they know when they will be able to open the gates again, and now the plan has been released.  You can read the full document here, but in short, parks in California won't be reopening any time soon.


The plan features color coded stages related to positive COVID-19 test results and cases rates per county.  Purple (Widespread) is the worse, followed by Red (Substantial), then Orange (Moderate) and finally Yellow (Minimal).  These follow the larger reopening plan that the state has had in place for some time, and the risk matrix for each stage is below.


© covid19.ca.gov
No parks are allowed to open at all in counties in both the purple and red stages.  Starting in the orange stage "small" parks (overall capacity less than 15,000) can open but on at a maximum of 500 guests or 25% of capacity, whichever is less.  That's a severe restriction that would make operations unprofitable for nearly every park I can think of.  Plus, in the orange stage, these parks cannot open indoor attractions and visitors can only be from the same county the park is located in.  The logistics of checking that operationally seems like a nightmare as well.


If a county gets to the yellow stage then a park within it can operate at 25% of maximum capacity and all indoor locations in the park can only have 25% capacity.  That would allow parks to open in similar ways that others around the country already have, as there are also a full set of rules related to face masks, cleaning, social distancing, etc.


© covid19.ca.gov
The catch is that currently less than 10 counties in California are in the yellow stage, none with parks in them.  Less than 15 counties are in the orange phase, which would come with the strictly limited attendance, and they don't have parks in them anyway.  So all the bigger parks, like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Legoland, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, California's Great America and a multitude of others, are currently stuck in purple or red stages.


Essentially, this means that under the Governor's current plan we won't see any of these parks open any time soon, especially with COVID-19 cases surging across the country once again.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Worlds of Fun Ready for Racers on New Riptide Raceway at Oceans of Fun in 2021


© Worlds of Fun
Much like we saw last month with Carowinds showing off their brand new mat racing water slide, Worlds of Fun is giving fans a preview of their new for 2021 attraction at Oceans of Fun, named Riptide Raceway.  According to the park, Riptide Raceway is the longest mat racing water slide in the world, with each of the 4 slides stretching 486 feet in length.


The park has created an entire blog post dedicated to showing off the construction of the attraction, which was originally supposed to open in 2020.  Oceans of Fun did not get to open this year, but now the park is able to show off the colorful attraction as fans wait for their turn to slide in 2021.

 

© Worlds of Fun
The feature even includes a look back at the construction of the new slide tower, which replaced the park's older Diamond Head attraction.  There's some neat aerial drone footage of the slide being constructed from back in March, a snip of which can be seen above. 


Starting next summer visitors will be able to race one another down the brightly colored tubes, featuring twists, curves and a horizontal loop on each - complete with a finish line at the end that will determine the winner!