Cedar Fair expects the second half of 2021 to lead the company out of the pandemic.
“Based on recent trends and consumer survey results, coupled with broad vaccination efforts underway across the nation, we anticipate strong pent-up consumer demand for closer-to-home, outdoor entertainment, particularly in the year’s second half,” Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said on the company’s first quarter earnings call.
The theme park chain reported only $10 million in revenue and a $83.6 million loss for the first three months of 2021. However, it wasn’t much of a fair comparison, as its only year-round park, Knott’s Berry Farm, wasn’t fully open during the quarter.
But there is one hurdle Cedar Fair has to overcome: not having enough workers.
Like other businesses and industries reliant on cheap, seasonal labor, Cedar Fair reported to investors that it’s stepping up recruiting efforts, increasing hourly wages, and offering signing bonuses in order to fill jobs.
“While we’ve had to deal with tight labor markets in the past, this is by far the most challenging labor environment I’ve seen in my more than 30 years in this business,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman later clarified that the chain has the workers it needs to meet the demand from guests for park openings throughout May. As parks get more applicants and fill out their staff, he said “we’ll react accordingly on the operating calendar and operating hours.”
Rival chain Six Flags beat attendance forecasts in its own first quarter report. When asked whether Cedar Fair can expect the same sort of increase, chief financial officer Brian Witherow said that depends on COVID-19 metrics continuing to improve.
“ We said from the beginning, what will impact us the most is how quickly restrictions lapse, how quickly you’re able to get back to what would be a fully operating model 100 percent of capacity,” he said.