Coronavirus still throwing amusement park attendance for a loop

Noble Horvath

The amusement park experience during the summer of COVID-19 depends largely on what state you’re in, but operators say even when parks are open, guests have been slow to return. © Provided by Boston Herald In this photo made on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, visitors ride the Wave Swinger in […]

The amusement park experience during the summer of COVID-19 depends largely on what state you’re in, but operators say even when parks are open, guests have been slow to return.



In this photo made on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, visitors ride the Wave Swinger in the "Lost Kennywood" section of Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pa. Visitors have been slow to return to U.S. theme parks that saw their seasons interrupted by the coronavirus crisis, causing some parks to reduce their operating days, slash ticket prices and close early for the year. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


© Provided by Boston Herald
In this photo made on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, visitors ride the Wave Swinger in the “Lost Kennywood” section of Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pa. Visitors have been slow to return to U.S. theme parks that saw their seasons interrupted by the coronavirus crisis, causing some parks to reduce their operating days, slash ticket prices and close early for the year. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., is open but requiring advance tickets and reservations and anyone over the age of 3 to wear a face mask, according to its website. Hand sanitizers have been placed throughout the park, and employees are enforcing social distancing.

Story Land in Glen, N.H., also is requiring guests to wear a face mask and social distance, as well as have a temperature check when they arrive.

But people opposed to mask-wearing requirements have stayed away from some parks.

“The pushback is diminishing,” said George Frantzis, co-owner of Quassy Amusement & Waterpark in Middlebury, Conn. “We still get a few every day who don’t believe in it.”

While business has remained slow during the week, the park has hit its capacity on a few weekends, he said. “Saturdays have been a little bit busy because there’s not a lot else to do out there,” Frantzis said.

But some other parks have reduced operating days, slashed ticket prices, and closed early for the year because of lower-than-hoped-for attendance, along with the uncertainty of what’s to come  with the coronavirus.

Disney this week will begin cutting an hour or two out of each day at its four Florida theme parks. It already called off its annual after-hours Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom. Neighboring Universal Orlando also nixed its Halloween Horror Nights.

In Massachusetts, Six Flags and Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver have remained closed since Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in March. Baker has yet to decide when amusement parks will be allowed to reopen.

“It is our hope that Edaville Family Theme Park will be allowed to reopen around Thanksgiving in time for our Christmas Festival of Lights,” the company said on its website.

Like Massachusetts’ parks, California’s haven’t been open since mid-March and are pushing the state to issue guidelines on how and when they can allow guests back.

“Disneyland has been ready to roll since July awaiting guidance from the state’s governor on what the reopening protocols will be,” Jim MacPhee, Walt Disney World’s chief operating officer, said two weeks ago.

Kennywood, an amusement park near Pittsburgh, delayed its opening twice this year, cut ticket prices in half and then decided to end its season early on Labor Day.

“It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in a few months,” said park spokesman Nick Paradise, explaining why they canceled the popular Phantom Fright Nights and Holiday Lights events. “The safest thing is to finish on a high note.”

Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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