‘Hard to predict what’s going to happen’: COVID-19 still throwing theme park attendance for a loop

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Theme park operators who spent months installing hand sanitizing stations, figuring out how to disinfect roller coasters seats and checking the temperatures of guests at their gates so they’d come back in the midst of the pandemic are finding many reluctant to return.

Some parks have reduced operating days, slashed ticket prices, and closed early for the year because of lower-than-hoped attendance — expectations weren’t high to begin with — along with the uncertainty of what’s to come with the coronavirus. A few parks have been unable to open their gates at all because of state and local health restrictions.

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.

Amusement parks across the South that had their seasons delayed by virus outbreaks in the spring deal with a second punch with the summer flareups across the Sun Belt. Some, including Kings Dominion in Virginia and Carowinds in North Carolina, never opened and won’t this year.

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