Are theme park visitors ready to return this summer?

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Relief has turned to grief for theme park operators who anxiously awaited reopening this summer only to find themselves reducing hours, cutting back on weekly operating days and dropping reservation requirements even as they contend with state-mandated attendance caps.

Lower than expected attendance has forced regional theme parks across the United States to reassess their operating plans after reopening following extended coronavirus closures.

Which begs the obvious question: Are visitors ready to return to theme parks this summer?

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SEE ALSO: California theme parks reopen — without rides

California theme parks remain closed indefinitely while they await still-unreleased state guidelines for safely reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pent-up demand that theme park operators counted on after COVID-19 threatened to cancel their summer seasons hasn’t materialized as expected. Surges in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in states across the U.S. have kept visitors at home and left still-shuttered theme parks in some states waiting on the sidelines.

In Orlando — the theme park capital of the world — cracks are beginning to show in the fragile travel-dependent region racked by record numbers of coronavirus cases. Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure have quietly reduced hours through August. Walt Disney World has pushed back the scheduled reopening of three hotel resorts from August to the fall or later. SeaWorld Orlando is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays — something no theme park could ever imagine doing in the middle of July. But this isn’t any ordinary summer.

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Cedar Fair has been forced to drop reservation requirements and reduce operating days since reopening some of its parks.

Ohio’s Cedar Point — Cedar Fair’s flagship park — will cut back its schedule to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in mid-August with nothing on the calendar past Labor Day — putting the HalloWeekends seasonal event at risk.

Pennsylvania’s Dorney Park has announced plans to close on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the typically busy summer season due to smaller than anticipated crowds.

Ohio’s Kings Island ditched reservations and will close on Wednesdays and Thursdays in August — despite the debut of the park’s $30 million Orion coaster this summer. Missouri’s Worlds of Fun is now closed three days a week after dropping reservations. Michigan’s Adventure — one of Cedar Fair’s smallest amusement parks — won’t open at all for the 2020 season.

The rest of Cedar Fair’s parks — Knott’s Berry Farm, California’s Great America, Canada’s Wonderland, Kings Dominion, Carowinds and Valleyfair — remain closed due to COVID-19 mandates.

SEE ALSO: Six Flags passholders and members remain loyal during pandemic

Regional rival Six Flags has seen a split in the last month with attendance dropping at reopened parks in states seeing surges in COVID-19 cases and parks in non-surge states reaching reduced capacity limits, Six Flags CEO Michael Spanos said on an earnings call with analysts.

“All boats rise or drop depending on the …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

      

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