Over the weekend, torrential rains and flooding left more than 70,000 people stranded in Burning Man in the Nevada desert. It is the latest example of how severe weather, exacerbated by climate change, will affect major attractions in North America this summer.
The largest theme park companies — Six Flags (SIX), SeaWorld, and Cedar Fair, Cedar Point’s parent company — have also been hit by extreme weather, including deadly floods in the Northeast, record heat in the Southwest and California, and wildfires in Canada. The extreme heat in Florida also affected attendance at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando this summer.
These attractions depend on the weather, and climate change poses significant risks to their business. That’s why parks are building indoor attractions and changing ticketing policies to respond to severe weather.
“The weather was clearly responsible for the weakness experienced during this period in regional parks,” Paul Golding, an analyst at Macquarie Research, said in a note to clients. Goulding lowered his estimates for the amusement park industry due to the increased risks from severe weather.
Cedar Fair (FUN), which also owns Canada’s Wonderland in Ontario and Knott’s Berry Farm in California, said Canadian wildfires and extreme heat in California reduced attendance by 300,000 visits last quarter.
“Attendance depends not only on the weather at the moment, but also on the weather at the time when customers purchase tickets months in advance,” Brian Weatherrow, CFO of Cedar Fair, said on a phone call last month.
Attendance at SeaWorld (SEAS) fell 2% in the latest quarter compared to the same period a year earlier as fewer people visited its outdoor water parks.
James Forrester, SeaWorld’s chief financial officer, said the drop was “primarily due to significantly inclement weather,” including rain and fallout from the Canadian wildfires.
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