IAAPA Releases Report on COVID-19’s Impact on Attractions & Theme Park Employment

As vaccinations continue to expand across the United States, experts are beginning to assess the massive impact the COVID-19 has left on the amusement industry.

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IAAPA has released a study on job losses within the industry in the last year, calling on elected officials and policymakers to provide aid and safe reopening guidelines in an attempt to recover from the pandemic.

Among the key findings in the report compiled by IAAPA historian Jim Futrell, amusement and theme parks, including the parks of Walt Disney World, the Disneyland Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, along with attractions like museums, zoos, botanical gardens, historic sites, saw a combined drop in employment of 127,200 people between March and May 2020, when a lot of hiring is done in advance of the busy summer season. By July 2020, as some parks were beginning to reopen, employment was at only 162,300, the lowest number since 1990 and more than 112,000 lower than July 2019. Overall, amusement parks and arcades share of employment loss reached over five times the national average across other industries.

Another significant point in the study shows just how bad employees at Californian parks have been hit. Since May 2020, the state has seen roughly 60% decreases in monthly employment, though that percentage has narrowed since November. Coincidentally, that was around the same time select dining and shopping offerings at Disney California Adventure reopened to the public for the first time since March. On the other hand, Florida experienced a 32 to 34% loss since July. In that same month, peak month employment reached the lowest level on record for California.

Futrell noted that a reluctance to visit: “While IAAPA members that have reopened have proven they can do so safely, these businesses continue to struggle due to consumer reluctance and guest capacity limitations, severely affecting revenue and the ability to bring back and rehire staff to previous levels.”

Meanwhile, the vice president of North America, IAAPA, John Hallenbeck added in a statement.:

Just as amusement parks and arcades, historical sites, zoos and other attractions were ramping up seasonal hiring last year, the economy shut down. That meant a sudden and immediate drop in employment. It’s imperative to the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Americans that state and local governments continue to push for the safe reopening of attractions facilities as soon as possible.

Efforts have been made to accelerate the opening of California’s theme parks. Last week, the Anaheim City Council voted overwhelmingly to support a bill in the state assembly that would allow theme and amusement parks to reopen at 25% capacity in tier 3 pf Governor Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, as opposed to the current plan to allow this at tier 4.

You can read the full report at this link.