Some of Cedar Fair's theme parks could begin announcing their reopening dates as early as next week, Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said today.
"Right now we feel like we've got a lot of good momentum in Texas and Missouri and will likely will be announcing some specifics on dates of those and other parks early next week," Zimmerman said during the Goldman Sachs 2020 Travel and Leisure Conference this afternoon. Cedar Fair owns two Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas and the Worlds of Fun theme park and Oceans of Fun water park in Missouri.
Zimmerman also confirmed that Cedar Fair parks will be requiring advance reservations to visit.
"With regard to social distancing, we've run sophisticated modeling of all of our parks, which sit on hundreds of acres. And we've come to the conclusion that everybody's gravitating towards a percentage of theoretical capacity. So we'll have a reservation system to come to the park once we open. You'll need to make a reservation - online or on our mobile app - that will be one of the steps we take."
He continued, "the limitation for social distancing isn't the acreage we have. It is really just the flow of our guests. We certainly will do spacing in queue lines, as you would expect. We'll do all the things you've seen restaurants and others do in the consumer space, limiting the number of tables. We also likely will have designated traffic going one way on half of a midway and the other on the other part of the midway. We will do lots of things that will ensure that we can adhere to the social distancing guidelines that we keep talking with these states about."
CFO Brian Witherow told the conference that Cedar Fair considers 2020 to be a transitional season and that the chain expects to save money by not putting on parades and live shows that cannot be presented while maintaining social distancing. He also said that Cedar Fair expects to hold the line on daily admission costs in 2020 when the parks return, but that more dynamic pricing could come into play in 2021 and beyond as the company gets a clearer view of guest demand.
Cedar Fair's other parks include Knott's Berry Farm, Cedar Point, Canada's Wonderland, and Kings Island.Tweet
That is good news, and it will be interesting to see what they announce. I heard previously that any of their parks that can't open by mid-July will likely not open for 2020, so hopefully this means they're ready to commit to late June or July opening dates for many of their parks.
FWIW - I had Hotel Breakers reservations (Cedar Point) for the 4th week of June, but received an email about an hour ago stating that the park would not be open during that time.
I was really hoping Cedar Point and Kings Island would both open by then, but it's looking less likely that they will even open at all this year.
I think the biggest problem with Cedar Point is their staffing. The Sandusky park is very reliant upon foreign workers to staff their parks, and CP provides those employees housing while they are here in the States. While Cedar Point does have a number of domestic employees, I wonder if it's just not worth it to try to staff up with local workers for a few months, particularly when there will be increased costs to train and compensate employees as well as the need for additional staff compared to previous years to handle the extra procedures necessitated by the pandemic. Even if they were able to open for the Fourth of July, you'd be looking at almost half of the park's season lost along with the additional costs for training, staffing, and the inability to utilize the cheaper foreign talent pool. In that scenario, it might actually be cheaper for the park to remain closed than to spend millions to open for 2+ months.
Kings Island is not quite as reliant on foreign workers, so perhaps they have the ability to staff up faster, and with a new giga-coaster ready to go, maybe the southern Ohio park is better positioned to open this year while CP sits idle until 2021.
If they do require reservations then will that include season pass holders? They should include all season pass holders as having daily reservations. So for example if they can allow 1,000 people in the park at a time and they have 300 season pass holders then on any given day they would have 700 reservations that they can take. It seems like the only fair way to go. People buy season passes with the intent on going quite a bit. Or at least that's what my family does. I'm interested in other solutions. I'm also interested to know if the waterpark will be opened or is that already included in Cedar Point talks of releasing dates.
@Neysa7791 - I think you're underestimating the number of pass holders. Not only that, there are those of us that have Cedar Fair Platinum passes that may have been purchased at another park (Canada's Wonderland, Dorney Park, Kings Dominion, Carowinds, Knott's, Michigan's Adventure, etc...), and are entitled to visit Cedar Point (and any other park in the chain as well) any operating day. If you're going to create a reservation system, you would have to establish some way for pass holders to formally declare their intention to visit on a given day while still allowing single day admission guests the opportunity to visit as well.
Six Flags is trying to do this by requiring Season Pass Holders (and Memberships) to reserve dates they want to visit ahead of day-pass guests, but they can only hold a single reservation at a time to prevent those guests from effectively blocking out the park every single day. They have also stated that there would be consequences for pass holders that make reservations but don't actually show up, though they haven't exactly stated what those would be.
If Cedar Fair is going to establish a reservation system, it needs to balance the rights of pass holders (who have already had their passes extended through the end of 2021) with the needs of the park to manage capacity and allow for non-pass holders to visit as well (pass holders don't represent admission revenue since most have already paid the cost of admission up front months ago).
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Ohio on Thursday is likely announcing when Cedar Point and Kings Island can reopen.