Theme parks across the country have endured an onslaught of wild weather this year ranging from unprecedented rainfall and excessive heat warnings to Canadian wildfires and California hurricanes that have led to lower attendance and reduced revenue.
The owners of Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain and SeaWorld San Diego are blaming “extreme,” “challenging” and “adverse” weather for their most recent attendance and revenue woes.
Cedar Fair, the parent company of Knott’s Berry Farm, blamed unprecedented rainfall in California, wildfires in Canada and extreme temperatures on the East Coast for a decline in attendance and season pass sales in the most recent quarter.
Park closures and reduced crowds caused by the California rains contributed to a 17% drop in attendance at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park and California’s Great America in Santa Clara during Cedar Fair’s second quarter.
California’s heavy rains were also blamed for a 9% decrease in 2023 season pass sales — largely at Knott’s and Great America. California’s “monsoon-like conditions” in the company’s first quarter resulted in lower season pass sales in the second quarter that impacted overall attendance.
Impacts from North America’s disruptive weather patterns weren’t isolated to Cedar Fair’s California parks.
Air quality issues caused by Canadian wildfire smoke hurt attendance at Canada’s Wonderland in the Toronto area. Unprecedented rainfall and extreme temperatures plagued Cedar Fair parks on the East Coast.
Cedar Fair estimates that high temperatures, heavy rains and wildfire smoke accounted for 300,000 fewer visitors in the quarter.
Attendance and revenue growth at Six Flags parks were tamped down by challenging weather in the first half of the year, according to the company’s most recent quarterly report.
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Much like Knott’s, Magic Mountain was closed frequently by rain in January, February and March. Like Cedar Fair, Six Flags parks were impacted by the Canadian wildfires and East Coast heat wave.
Earlier this week, Magic Mountain was closed for two days due to the impacts of Hurricane Hilary that forced many Southern California theme parks to shut their gates or close early.
Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California were also forced to close on Aug. 20 as the downgraded storm swept across Southern California. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure closed early on the same day. Universal Studios Hollywood remained open throughout the storm and undaunted by the rain.
The remnants of the one-time category 4 Hurricane Hilary became the first tropical storm to hit Southern California since 1939.
SeaWorld attributed a drop in attendance and revenue during the most recent quarter to adverse weather and excessive heat warnings.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks are now offering an extreme weather guarantee of a free return visit if wind, snow, hail, rain, lightning or a heat index of 110 degrees ruins your day or wild weather impacts your flight plans.