Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Worlds of Fun Ends Reservations and Reduces Operating Days


© Worlds of Fun
Worlds of Fun was the first large Cedar Fair park to open this summer, and as of this week has made some changes to their operations that are noteworthy.

I had a feeling that after some of the large parks opened we'd see changes in response to consumer demand, especially with regard to hours and operating days - though I wasn't sure in which direction exactly.  Obviously there have been a lot of very small changes as the parks have learned how to open in a COVID-19 world, but Worlds of Fun has now implemented two large modifications.

First, the park has stopped using their reservation system to track attendance to limit ahead of time the overall number of visitors in the park on any give day.  The use of reservations was a change that many parks have implemented, and while I'm not sure if Missouri is requiring reduced attendance at this point or not - it seems that the park isn't concerned about hitting any given maximum. 

There have been many reports online of the park being quite empty on some operating days, and depending on what their given maximum capacity is I guess they're getting no where near it.  So far from it that they're comfortable assuming they probably won't hit the limit.. and now are advertising no reservations needed to visit.  Of course, I guess if they do have a limit and hit it they'd have to turn away guests at the entrance, something they'd never want to do no doubt.

© Worlds of Fun
Second, and more telling of the reason for change number one, Worlds of Fun has revised their operating calendar to reflect that starting next week they will stay closed Monday through Wednesday.  That means they will operate only Thursday - Sunday for the rest of the summer... as of right now.  The daily hours of 11 am to 7 pm have stayed the same.

If the park was operating at such small capacity that they needed to close three days a week then I'm thinking that crowds were considerably smaller than expected.  Even on prior earnings calls Cedar Fair noted that most parks are profitable at much smaller attendance levels than we might think, so for them to bag three days a week to try to remain profitable then things must be slow.

In the end it is what it is, this is really a lost summer anyway, and I have a feeling that if cases continue to trend upwards, and the water parks attached to these parks are not opened, that this type of change will be common in the coming weeks.  On the plus side, if you visit you may have the smallest wait times you've seen in a long time!


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Adventureland Iowa Makes 2021's Dragon Slayer Official


© Adventureland
Welp, this wasn't much in the way of a grand announcement, but Iowa's Adventureland theme park has made the addition of Dragon Slayer, an S&S 4-D Free Spin roller coaster, official.  The ride will open in 2021 per the video that Adventureland released on Facebook:


There's not too much information in it however, basically there are shots of an existing 4-D Free Spin, Batman the Ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, with some unique editing as well.  The ride had previously been discovered to be coming since track pieces, easily identifiable as Free Spin track, have been arriving at the park for a while now.

The park is removing their Dragon roller coaster in order to add the Dragon Slayer.  The ride will feature bright red track and silver supports.  We're assuming the coaster will be the same layout as the ones at the Six Flags parks, which means it will stand 120 feet tall.

It's impressive for the park to be moving forward with a new coaster considering the pandemic, it is a hopeful sign of the future for the park!


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Dutch Wonderland to Open, Kennywood Delays Reopening


© Dutch Wonderland
Happy 4th of July everyone.  Please make sure to stay safe today!

We continue to watch as parks announce reopening plans, and in some cases delay or cancel them.  A little of both again today.

Dutch Wonderland, located in Pennsylvania, has announced their plan to reopen to guests on July 14th for season pass holders, a period that will last through July 17th.  Starting July 18th the park plans to be open to all visitors.

The park will follow its sister parks changes in terms of COVID-19 prevention and safety.  This includes a reservation system to control attendance (which will go live soon), social distancing throughout the park, increased sanitization standards and more.  Face masks will be required for a visit.

The park has all this information, along with guest and employee responsibilities, listed on their website.

© Kennywood
Kennywood had planned to open this Monday for the first time this year, but due to spiking numbers of COVID-19 cases in their county, they have had to delay the reopening.

Allegheny county, where the park is located, has set in place a one week stay at home order, which also included closing indoor dining at restaurants, casinos and limiting gatherings to 25 people.  Potentially this means the park's opening may only be delayed by a week, but it has been proven that anything can happen in 2020!

The delay also includes Kennywood's sister waterpark, Sandcastle, which was also scheduled to reopen.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion to Stay Closed in 2020?


© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
The Governor of Virginia has only allowed entertainment facilities such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion to open with a maximum of 1,000 visitors in the state's 3rd phase of reopening.

While it is good that the parks are able to open, they're not able to make it financially worthwhile at a maximum of 1,000 visitors per day, and as such do not appear to plan to reopen this year.

This article gives a nice summary of what has transpired so far, and the leader of Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been outspoken about wanting theme park capacity lifted to 5,000 to 7,000 people per day.  The park has been trying to work with the Governor's office to get the visitor limit lifted, but with no luck so far.

The park has stated that they have a very detailed COVID-19 related operating plan ready to go, and that in some ways they're not that different from Virginia Beach, which has been allowed to open.  Another part of their argument is that the size of the parks make it such that people are easily distanced apart.

We will have to keep tabs on the story, but at this point we're already in July and these parks would need at least a couple weeks (or more) to get ready if they were allowed to open.  Plus, in different parts of the country the COVID-19 cases are rising fast, which might not help their case either.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Waldameer Park to Open, Rye Playland to Stay Closed, and Hurricane Harbor Phoenix Closes


© Waldameer
Pennsylvania's Waldameer Park and Water World will open to visitors on July 3rd, marking the start of their 2020 season.  The park will not able able to open all of their rides in order to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, but the vast majority of the park's attractions will be available.

Guests visiting the park will be required to wear a face mask, at least for those age 3 and up.  Pennsylvania has continued to have face masks required at all businesses, regardless of type, during the pandemic and Waldameer will be no exception to that rule.

In order to monitor attendance levels guests will have to purchase their tickets online ahead of time and select the date they want to visit.  The park will not be selling any tickets at their entrance gates.  This also means that non-rider free admission will not be available in 2020 but the park plans to bring it back in 2021.

© Playland
New York's Rye Playland amusement park has made the tough decision to stay closed for the 2020 season.  The park is part of the Westchester County parks system, and that general area was one of the first in the country to be heavily hit with COVID-19 cases.  In order to continue to keep the public and employees safe the decision to not open the amusement park this year was made.

From the park's website it looks like other amenities surrounding the park, such as the beach and mini-golf, are currently operating on limited schedules with plenty of precautions in place.

© Hurricane Harbor Phoenix

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix was already open for the 2020 season, however due to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in Arizona the park has announced that they will be closing for 30 days.

The state's Governor has ordered all water parks and tubing enterprises to stay shuttered until at least July 27th - calling that date and "aspirational" goal.  To me that means it could easily go longer depending on what the number of cases do.

It's a mixed bag of good news with bad so far this summer, everyone keep safe!


Monday, June 29, 2020

Disney Parks in the U.S. to Retheme Splash Mountain to "The Princess and the Frog"


© Disney
Some rumors in recent weeks had hinted at Disney considering a retheme of Splash Mountain at its U.S. parks for months now, and it turns out that is exactly their plan.  In light of recent events the march of social change has reached many corporate levels, refreshing indeed, and in this case it made its way to a log ride in two Disney Parks in Florida and California.

Splash Mountain was themed around "The Song Of The South," a Disney film from the 1940s that contains plenty of racial stereotypes set in the plantation era South.  Disney put away the movie for good a few decades ago, but the ride's characters and music are still based off the film.

In the announcement on the Disney Parks Blog they explain that the rethemed rides will "pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance."

"Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important.  It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou."

The retheme of the ride is still a work in progress, and both Splash Mountains are scheduled to reopen in their current form when the parks welcome guests back.  The work is being led by Imagineer Charita Carter and Tony Baxter, who led the original Splash Mountain project, will join as a creative advisor.

This story from the Orange County Register has some additional details on the transformation that is worth checking out.