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Coronavirus: Economic impact on theme parks in 2020.

I am afraid i tend to agree. If the Parks are back open by the beginning of July, I will be amazed. I do think that this might be it for some Parks, one 'major' park in particular. Govt funding will help with staff costs but not much else in the grand scheme of things.

Anyone in the industry know how staff (permanent and part time) are being treated? Are jobs safe?
 

JammyH

Member
I am afraid i tend to agree. If the Parks are back open by the beginning of July, I will be amazed. I do think that this might be it for some Parks, one 'major' park in particular. Govt funding will help with staff costs but not much else in the grand scheme of things.

Anyone in the industry know how staff (permanent and part time) are being treated? Are jobs safe?
I heard blackpool pleasure beach asked their staff to take 2 months unpaid leave, but that was before the government offered to pay 80% of wages so I don’t know what’s happened since then.

One things for certain in my mind, this RMC everyone has been hoping for at Thorpe is 1000% never happening now after merlin take another financial hit with this.

EDIT: didn’t want to double post but just found out one of the UK’s biggest funfairs, the hoppings, is now cancelled, and that’s at the end of June. So July ish time for the parks would seem hopeful at this point
 

TommyAlex

Member
To make a rough prediction for the UK, if the most vulnerable people have to stay inside for 12 weeks, that suggests that's a rough estimate for when this should (hopefully) have brought the UK to the level China are currently at. 12 weeks = end of June, give a few extra weeks, I reckon it will be about mid July/start of August before any UK theme parks open.

One thing I have thought about is whether any theme parks will extend their season, possibly to the end of November. Would that help theme parks in terms of having another 3/4 weeks to make money (obviously only a small percentage of what's been missed out on in the first half of the season)?
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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One thing I have thought about is whether any theme parks will extend their season, possibly to the end of November. Would that help theme parks in terms of having another 3/4 weeks to make money (obviously only a small percentage of what's been missed out on in the first half of the season)?
The reason why parks aren't already open at those times of year is because demand tends to be rather low even in normal times. People will want to go out and about after being quarantined for months, sure, but they probably would explore other options than going to a theme park and paying the high entrance fees to freeze their buttocks off on a coaster on a rainy November day. I think that if parks have to wait until August to open, many will simply choose to stay closed for the rest of the year. Hiring staff is expensive (not just paying them, but the hiring process too), stocking the shops is expensive, inspecting rides and approving them to open for the season is expensive, cleaning and maintenance is expensive, marketing is expensive, printing park maps is a cost too - in short, every season requires a lot of costs that will only be earned back after weeks of operating. If the park can't guarantee enough traffic to pay for those costs before the season ends, they will be better off not operating at all that year. Just stay in off-season mode until next spring, rather than paying to get it all up and running for a short couple of months.


Another thought springs to mind, though: what happens to a park that goes bust? Say for instance that a park declares bankruptcy after a horribly bad season. The physical park would still be there, with all its infrastructure, rides in place and working, building regulations, transport links, public image, and so on. Wouldn't a new owner usually be able to take over, if there usually is a market for the park to operate? I don't think it would always pay off to dismantle the rides, sell what can be sold, and turn the land into a housing development. Sometimes the creditors would clearly be better off by selling the park wholesale.

The question then becomes what a new owner would be able to do. Say the current owners of a park are heavily indebted. The creditors would then take over and sell off the park to some aspiring entrepreneur out there. The new owner wouldn't carry the debt of the old ones, would they? I mean, they would probably have to borrow a lot to afford the park, but at this point the old debt would have to be erased (otherwise, the park might have a negative value, in which case, who would want to buy it?). The new owner wouldn't be in the swamp of debt and bad credit rating the old owners were, and might have the opportunity to borrow a little extra and put in a new attraction or two, a possibility not afforded by the old owners.

So I'm not saying I'm fully optimistic here, but I think a park going bust wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for its visitors. Revitalization previously thought impossible (hi, LWV!) might become a reality under a new ownership situation.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I think that in the short to medium term, this will definitely have an impact. I could definitely see a couple of years of reduced investment and guest figures while the economy sorts itself out and the parks get their cash flow back to normal levels, but I think the industry as a whole will bounce back to its former self in the long term (5-10 years from now, I bet that the parks will be running as though the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 never happened). If as people predict, we start to see a return to normality in around June/July and there's a nice summer like we've had for the last 2 years, then I think the parks could have a good Q3/Q4 that partially recoups some of the losses made during Q1/Q2. There are of course issues surrounding financial impact on people and appetite for mass gatherings, but the British government have announced a plethora of financial support options to keep financial impact on households to a minimum, and if scenes in Britain last week are anything to go by, then I think that the appetite for tourist attractions & mass gatherings will be stronger than ever once normality returns!

Having said that, I don't think guest figures will fall as much as people predict in the long term, and I also don't think that investment will dry up completely. My personal prediction is that we will see less parks building major rides like coasters than we did in the 2010s, but we will still see them being built. Maybe we'll see investment levels more akin to what we saw in the 2000s, which while there were somewhat less new coasters being built per year than in the 2010s on average, there was still a respectable amount being built each year. Also, most recessions throughout history only seem to have lasted for a year or two, so even if we do have a recession, I'd imagine that the world will have recovered to an extent by 2025, maybe 2030 if we're being very pessimistic. So the parks should have ridden out the storm and emerged stronger by the end of the decade.

As for parks to be worried about; I wouldn't worry too much about any of the major players. Disney & Universal have the financial might to ride out a crisis like this for sure, and provided the efforts to save the worldwide airline industry work well enough, I'm sure that people will be flocking back to their parks in Orlando and across the world in large numbers before too long. Cedar Fair seem to be perfectly stable financially, Merlin recently went private so are likely in a less precarious position, and SEAS have been on the up in recent years with their focus on roller coasters and other thrill rides seemingly working well for them. I can't think of any problems with any of the others financially, either, and I wouldn't worry too much about the larger independent parks (e.g. Europa Park). The only major player I can think of to be worried about is Six Flags, as they allegedly weren't doing too well before the pandemic. If things go badly, they could potentially be headed for a second bankruptcy.

The only parks I would be worried about are the small independent parks, especially ones that showed signs of struggling before the pandemic. COVID-19 may already have claimed its first theme park victim in the form of M&D's, as that park has now laid off all of its staff and is selling Tornado. Even if M&D's does reopen, it shows that they're seemingly struggling, although I don't think they had been doing brilliantly since the Tsunami incident in June 2016. Other names that come to mind are parks like Drayton Manor, which has suffered financial difficulties since the Splash Canyon incident in May 2017. In the UK independent scene, some other names come to mind too. Despite them being a somewhat larger independent park, I'd even say I'm slightly worried about Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as they've apparently been struggling since Icon didn't meet financial expectations in 2018.
 

CSLKennyNI

Active Member
Shutdown: Tayto Park aims for August reopening but fears closure until April 2021
The owner of Tayto Park hopes that the theme park will reopen in August - but fears that it may not until next April due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Prior to the Covid-19 emergency, Tayto Park owner Raymond Coyle had pencilled in this Saturday for the reopening of the park, which generates around €19m in revenues per annum and attracts over 500,000 visitors.
Mr Coyle said in an interview that he hoped that the park may be in a position to reopen in August but conceded that it may now be next April.
He said Tayto Park has already stalled the recruitment of 360 seasonal workers for the park's peak summer months.
Mr Coyle said that he was not qualified to say when the park would reopen.
"We will have to be guided by the HSE, Government and the developments around the coronavirus," he said.
Tayto Park employs 78 year-round workers who are engaged in feeding the animals there, maintenance of the rides and attractions, and office work.
Mr Coyle said that workforce will remain in place.
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"We didn't have capital expenditure this winter which was a great help," he said. "We have money to cover ourselves for one year, provided that we can access the Government support scheme in place for company employees.
"What the Government is proposing to put in place is very fair."
 

KristofWB

Member
Belgium has been in lockdown since two weeks. End of lockdown supposed to be April 5th, which is the actual date for Bellewaerde Park, Bobbejaanland, Plopsa Parks, Walibi Belgium to reopen. However, this afternoon a pressconference from the prime minister will probably confirm a longer lockdown for Belgium. Rumors say the end of May.

However, construction of Wakala in Bellewaerde Park and Walibi's megacoaster are still going on.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I just found some very interesting videos from Amusement Insiders speculating about the sort of effect that coronavirus could have on the two big regional players in the USA; Six Flags and Cedar Fair. Here's the one about Six Flags:
And here's the one about Cedar Fair:
Interesting stuff! Intriguingly, he seems to predict that Cedar Fair will accelerate major investments in order to boost attendance, while most other people seem to predict that investment will be majorly reduced. I must admit, I never knew that Time Warp at Canada's Wonderland was built in response to low attendance following SARS; if the parks' cash flow allows, maybe we could see a similar response here?
 
I just found some very interesting videos from Amusement Insiders speculating about the sort of effect that coronavirus could have on the two big regional players in the USA; Six Flags and Cedar Fair. Here's the one about Six Flags:
And here's the one about Cedar Fair:
Interesting stuff! Intriguingly, he seems to predict that Cedar Fair will accelerate major investments in order to boost attendance, while most other people seem to predict that investment will be majorly reduced. I must admit, I never knew that Time Warp at Canada's Wonderland was built in response to low attendance following SARS; if the parks' cash flow allows, maybe we could see a similar response here?
I do not share that dude's optimism or his financial advice. I think share prices could well plummet a lot lower once the results of partially shutdown economies, people's pension pots and a mega low oil price become more clear. Only invest what you can afford to lose on the stock market, that's for sure. Even when we are "out of the woods" someone will have to pay the bill for all these bailouts and keeping things afloat. More taxes will simply mean people can't afford to go the theme parks as often.
I also don't see why Cedar Fair would do so well out of this eventually. Many of their parks seem to have very short opening seasons, shorter than here in the UK. A place like Disney can possibly rely on crowds towards the end of the year / Christmas to get some positivity going on their balance sheets. Not so at Cedar Point or King's Island.

The corona crisis is only just starting in the USA I fear. They are 10 days behind Italy with the daily case number curve and are already 3 times higher than the worst infection count day in Italy so far. I presume it takes some time between infection diagnosis and knowing the outcome of a patient (recovery or worse case scenario death).

At the moment I think riding just a few coasters this year would be pretty good. I expect it may be a year without any to be honest. More importantly I hope all the members of my family will still be alive this time next year. Stay safe everyone.
 
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BlueSonicHD

New Member
Not sure about in the US but here in the UK with a lot of people sat at home getting paid, not being able to go out and spend any of it
When parks finally reopen.
People will want to get out and spend spend spend.
Would hope people will spend some of that at theme parks.
Maybe the shut down won’t be so bad on the parks.
Unless they don’t open at all this season
 
Not sure about in the US but here in the UK with a lot of people sat at home getting paid, not being able to go out and spend any of it
When parks finally reopen.
People will want to get out and spend spend spend.
Would hope people will spend some of that at theme parks.
Maybe the shut down won’t be so bad on the parks.
Unless they don’t open at all this season
There definitely could be a positive reaction for theme parks eventually. But if there is some type of staggered approach to re-opening as we have seen in China & Japan (certain amount of maximum people in the parks, social distancing or some of the approaches BPB already demonstrated such as cleaning trains every hour) I don't think visiting theme parks will be as much fun as it used to be in the short term at least nor will it be quite so profitable surely.
 

Kalistos

New Member
Not sure about in the US but here in the UK with a lot of people sat at home getting paid, not being able to go out and spend any of it
When parks finally reopen.
People will want to get out and spend spend spend.
Would hope people will spend some of that at theme parks.
Maybe the shut down won’t be so bad on the parks.
Unless they don’t open at all this season
Spend what ? If you are unemployed because of confinement, even if you are still partially getting paid, you'll have other worries than spending in amusement parks.
 

tomahawk

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
I just found some very interesting videos from Amusement Insiders speculating about the sort of effect that coronavirus could have on the two big regional players in the USA; Six Flags and Cedar Fair. Here's the one about Six Flags:
And here's the one about Cedar Fair:
Interesting stuff! Intriguingly, he seems to predict that Cedar Fair will accelerate major investments in order to boost attendance, while most other people seem to predict that investment will be majorly reduced. I must admit, I never knew that Time Warp at Canada's Wonderland was built in response to low attendance following SARS; if the parks' cash flow allows, maybe we could see a similar response here?
Man, I'm gonna try and be nice, I am, but never ****ing listen to this dick cheese. The homeless crackhead on the corner knows more than he does.

This **** needs to end so my ass can go get some Gal Gadot and Jersey Devil's Threesome action.

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