Cedar Fair, which owns and operates Kings Island in Mason, today reported an operating loss of more than half a billion dollars but said it was “optimistic” about this year.
The Sandusky, Ohio-based company reported that attendance dropped by more than 90% in 2020, as parks delayed openings and set capacity restrictions. Three of the company’s 13 parks never opened for the 2020 season.
For the full year ended Dec. 31, 2020, net revenues totaled $182 million versus $1.47 billion for 2019. The decrease in net revenues was the direct result of a 25.3 million-visit decrease in attendance and a $101 million decrease in out-of-park revenues, with both shortfalls due to COVID-19-related park closures and operating calendar changes in 2020, as well as the pandemic's negative impact on demand upon reopening.
That drop in revenues isn’t getting the company down.
“We are optimistic that levels of attendance at our parks and resort properties will significantly improve in 2021, particularly as COVID-19 vaccines become broadly available over the next few months,” Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “In anticipation of improving demand, we are poised to resume normal operations, particularly during our seasonally stronger back half of the year.”
Kings Island opened for the 2020 season on July 2.
Because of the drop in operating days and cost-saving measures implemented in response to disrupted park operations, the company’s operating costs and expenses were $484 million compared to $991 million in 2019.
Cedar Fair’s operating loss for 2020 totaled $572 million, compared with operating income of $309 million for 2019. The operating loss was the result of the 88 percent decline in net revenues, offset by the $507-million decrease in operating costs and expenses between years.
Working closely with state and local officials, the company established 2021 opening dates for its seasonal parks ranging from May 8 to May 29. Kings Island is scheduled to open for Passholder Preview days on May 8 and May 9, about a month later than its usual opening.
Kings Island has also not yet announced an official opening date, though that typically occurs about a week after preview days. Sister park Cedar Point in Sandusky is scheduled to open to the general public on May 14, so it’s likely that Kings Island could be open to the public by then.
Zimmerman said the safety and welfare of Cedar Fair’s associates and guests remain the company’s highest priorities, and all of its properties that reopened in 2020 exemplified “high-quality immersive entertainment in a safe, sanitized and stress-free environment.”
He said significant business process improvements implemented last year and meaningful cost savings opportunities identified reduced Cedar Fair’s use of cash and positioned it well to emerge from the pandemic as “a leaner and more cost-efficient organization.”
This story was originally published by Journal-News, a media partner of WCPO 9.