Rollercoaster riders, beware.
Cedar Fair, the parents company of Knott’s Berry Farm’s, says some or all of its theme parks in the U.S. and Canada could remain closed throughout the rest of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orange County Register reported on Thursday.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have estimated that some or all of our parks may remain closed throughout 2020,” the Cedar Fair first quarter report read, according to a copy obtained by the newspaper.
The report went on to note that a long-term closure could result from myriad factors, like external operating restrictions being imposed, or the time it takes to prepare to reopen operations with enhanced hygiene protocols.
The company later released a statement to KTLA addressing the report. It read:
“The reporter from the Orange County Register was referring to a sentence appearing in Cedar Fair’s most recent Form 10-Q, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The sentence is describing a scenario for financial modeling purposes, taking into account a worst case scenario risk factor that included the potential of the Company’s parks remaining closed throughout 2020. The sentence was part of a financial exercise – nowhere did the Company indicate the stated scenario was an expectation or projection, nor did it say anything about Knott’s Berry Farm or any of the Company’s other 14 parks.. Rather, the scenario posed was intended to set a baseline for financial analysis purposes, something that is performed routinely in the accounting world.
“Cedar Fair and Knott’s Berry Farm continues to work with health and safety experts as we plan for increased safety measures and operational changes throughout our park. We are in constant communication with our state and federal governments and are looking forward to welcoming guests back just as soon as it is safe to do so.“
But under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order, Knott’s Berry Farm and other theme parks in Southern California and around the state will likely be shut down for months to come, barring the discovery of a coronavirus vaccine or treatment.
Knott’s, Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor have all been shuttered since mid-March due to the ongoing public health emergency.
And, under the state’s plan to reopen segments of California’s economy in phases, it doesn’t appear any of the popular tourist destinations will be allowing thrillseekers in anytime soon.
While not explicitly mentioned, theme parks would fall under phase four — the final stage — of the plan laid out late last month by Newsom.
The fourth phase includes categories with live audiences and large crowds, such as concerts, conventions and sporting events with live audiences. It will essentially signify the end of the statewide stay-at-home restrictions are met, but will only come to fruition once six indicators outlined by the state to lift the order are met.
The benchmarks include: expanding the state’s testing, tracking and tracing capacity; protecting vulnerable populations against the virus; ensuring hospitals’ needs are met and they can meet surge capacity in the event the number of cases spikes; potentially developing a vaccine and working on therapeutics; and guidelines to keep people safe in schools, businesses and public spaces once orders are relaxed.
Last week, Newson indicated the state was still “months away” from that final stage — meaning it’s unlikely any theme parks will reopen again in time for the busy summer season.
And like Knott’s Berry Farm, one analyst with global financial firm UBS predicted that Disney parks in the U.S. also won’t reopen again until next year.
Even when amusements park open their gates again, visitors should expect changes. Some ideas that have been floated around include limiting crowds and performing temperature checks.
The first Disney theme park to close amid the coronavirus — Disneyland Shanghai in China — is set to begin a phased reopening next week for the first time in over three months.
It will operate under “enhanced safety measures,” which will include an advanced registration system to get in, limiting crowd size at rides, restaurants and other facilities, and increasing sanitation and disinfection measures.