Knott’s Berry Farm could still reopen this year “with a little luck,” said Richard Zimmerman, CEO of Knott’s parent company Cedar Fair.
On the amusement park chain’s second quarter earnings call, it reported a staggering 98 percent year-over-year decline and an attendance drop of 8 million visitors. The numbers came as little surprise, as only three of its parks were open for any portion of the April to June quarter.
Two of its bigger parks, Ohio’s Cedar Point and Kings Island, reopened in July, with new safety protocols include reduced capacity and face mask requirements. Both parks have since slashed operating days thanks to lower-than-expected demand.
The two other properties that make up 80 percent of the company’s earnings — Canada’s Wonderland and Knott’s — remain closed. Executives said they continue to monitor conditions for potentially reopening those parks.
“Getting Canada and Knott’s open would be that much more beneficial, even for an abbreviated fall calendar,” said Cedar Fair chief financial officer Brian Witherow.
Knott’s has welcomed back guests with food festivals, opening up the park on a limited basis for shopping and dining while keeping rides closed. The strategy has been successful enough that Zimmerman hinted it may be copied at other Cedar Fair properties.
For other parks, however, 2020 is a lost cause. Cedar Fair announced four of its properties — California’s Great America, Carowinds, Kings Dominion and Valleyfair — would not open at all this year. While executives repeatedly declined to give a specific forecast for 2021, given the uncertainty of the pandemic, Zimmerman said there are considerable hurdles ahead, such as how safe guests feel returning to environments like amusement parks.
“Consumer confidence may not improve measurably, until there is broad availability and distribution of a vaccine or treatments to reduce the spread or effects of the coronavirus,” Zimmerman said. “This may prove to be an attendance headwind for the foreseeable future, and something we must account for.”
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