After nearly $500M in 2020 losses, Dorney Park parent company ready for new season

Stacy Wescoe//February 17, 2021

After nearly $500M in 2020 losses, Dorney Park parent company ready for new season

Stacy Wescoe//February 17, 2021

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in South Whitehall Township. PHOTO/FILE


As expected, 2020 was not a good year for amusement parks, and Cedar Fair, the parent company of Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom reported a drastic drop in revenue for the year.

Cedar Fair said with a limited season, and lower attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, net revenues for the company totaled $182 million versus $1.47 billion for 2019.

That led to a loss of more than $590 million dollars, when factoring in added expenses the company incurred implementing COVID-19 mitigation strategies and other operating costs.

The good news is the company expects the pent up demand for amusement parks will make 2021 a much better year.

“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,” said Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman. “In anticipation of improving demand, we are poised to resume normal operations, particularly during our seasonally stronger back half of the year. We have strategically designed our operating plan for the 2021 season specifically to minimize cash burn in the pre-opening period and correlate park operating calendars with forecasted demand while growing our season pass base for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.”

Zimmerman said in response to the pandemic, the company made great strides in process improvements and found cost saving opportunities.

For 2020, operating costs and expenses totaled $484 million compared with $991 million for 2019.

“These efforts have reduced our use of cash and positioned us well to emerge from the pandemic as a leaner and more cost-efficient organization,” he said.

Zimmerman said he expects the company’s parks will benefit from lingering COVID-19 caution as families continue to look for outdoor, closer-to-home entertainment options.

After a late opening in 2020 because of the COVID-19 shutdown, Dorney Park closed its season early, shuttering on Labor Day, Sept. 7 and foregoing its popular Halloween-themed weekends. Wildwater Kingdom never opened for the season because of the pandemic.

Plans are on track for both parks to be open for the 2021 season.

Dorney announced Wednesday that it planned to hire “thousands” for the upcoming season.

The park said it is hiring ride operators, security, aquatics, horticulture, food & beverage, merchandise, finance, maintenance and entertainment workers.