Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Parks Cope with the Pandemic

Park World asked four major attractions how they are coping with lockdown – and how it might affect their running in the near future

These are strange and challenging times, with much of the world hibernating to avoid illness. With parks closed, we checked to see how they are doing during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Borchardt, Wonderland Park
Marq Lipton, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Anthony Catanoso, Steel Pier
Rob Norris, Seabreeze


In what ways is your park coping with the current pandemic?
Wonderland Park

“We are cooperating with the CDC outlines with our full-time workforce,” responds Paul Borchardt, owner of Wonderland Park in Amarillo, Texas. “As we have not opened to the public we are only using the staff to prepare for opening, whenever this ends. Our months of April and May weekdays are usually booked school outings, but schools are totally closed, reverting to home schooling. We have not been able to open as everything is basically closed and people are homebound. No revenue can be produced until the ‘all clear’ is given and people can begin to move as per the governmental units edict.”

“Currently we are making sure that all of our staff is safe and properly protected,” reports Anthony Catanoso, President of the Steel Pier, Altantic City, New Jersey. “We are installing sanitation stations throughout the park, and we will establish a complete, best practices sanitation program for the entire staff.”

“Immediately after deciding to voluntarily close the Boardwalk on March 12 our focus was in securing the facility for a prolonged closure,” recalls Marq Lipton, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California. “Since then, our focus has been on the welfare of our employees.”

“Like most other businesses in New York, we have suspended virtually all onsite activities,” says Rob Norris, President, Seabreeze, Rochester, New York. “The office staff is working remotely while most maintenance work is on hold.”


For how long will it delay the opening of your park?

“We were scheduled to open May 16th,” Norris admits, “but at this point, we anticipate it will be late June or July when we are allowed to open.”

“We are now under a mandatory shelter in until at least May 3 by the City of Santa Cruz and the State of California,” Lipton explains. “It’s unclear how long parks and attractions in California will be closed.”

Steel Pier

“At this point,” notes Catanoso, “we are preparing the park so we can open when it is allowed by the state and safe to our staff and patrons. We are unable to put a time frame on it at this point in time.”

“Once we reach a certain level of non-contamination,” believes Borchardt, “I’m sure we can open. We have the problem of insurance and state inspections to be completed before that date is identified. At this time I have not scheduled these events as the rides have to be running and I do not want to fill the water rides as the cost of treatment of water is very costly for no reason. When the ‘all clear’ comes it will take about four days to officially open. We have two additions for 2020, a spinning Spinasaurus and Olde Tyme electric car ride.”


How will it affect income and hiring?

“We have a hiring freeze in place,” Lipton acknowledges, “until we have a better idea of when we can open.”


“We do not have any income during this time and are counting on the stimulus loan program to help carry us through this time,” says Borchardt. “Without this we will be nearly out of business. Our seasonal help recruitment is still happening as we are answering and directing phone quires to social media. Our returning employees and a few of the new members received training prior to the closures, so am counting on more training for the four days before opening.”

“We are also delaying our hiring process by three to four weeks,” Norris observes, “and doing much of that using online applications and Zoom interviews.”


“It’s anyone’s guess how it will affect income,” Catanoso offers. “We will definitely have a shorter season. The most challenging part of the hiring will be our foreign students which comprise one third of our workforce. There are still travel restrictions which may impact that.”

How will it affect your park’s future plans?

“From our staff and management perspective,” muses Catanoso, “we want everyone to remain safe and healthy.”

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

“At this time, it is really hard to forecast what the long-term impact will be on us and our industry,” admits Norris. “Seabreeze has gone through many challenges in its 141-year history.  We fully anticipate coming through this strong as ever.”

“At this time everything is being put on hold for future plans,” Borchard confirms, “until we can pull out of the current hole we are in.”

“It’s unclear how future plans will affected,” confesses Lipton. “Right now our focus is on the health and well-being of our employees. We are really taking things week by week until we have clarity on when we can open.”

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