COVID-19 continues to have a huge impact on theme parks, museums, zoos and more. Here’s the latest coronavirus news from the attractions industry.
This week sees a cautious relaxing of the strict lockdown measures introduced in some European countries. For example, on 4 May, citizens in Italy were allowed out for exercise for the first time in seven weeks. However, the country was hit hard by the crisis, and social distancing measures are likely to be in place for some time. We bring you the latest news on coronavirus and the attractions industry.
Coronavirus news from the attractions industry
Theme park and museum news
This week’s news shows an unclear future for many attractions. For example, a new four-part plan for California was announced, which indicates that the state’s theme parks, museums, zoos and aquariums may not be able to open for months. Possibly not until a treatment for the virus has been established.
The Walk Disney Company reports that it has lost $1 billion in operating income since its parks and resorts have been shut.
Comcast released its Q1 results, which included the news that some of Universal’s planned new attractions will be delayed due to coronavirus. For example, construction work on Epic Universe is on pause to allow the company to focus on the “immediate challenges that COVID-19 presents.”
Work on the eagerly-awaited Super Nintendo World Japan has continued, however, the project will now open later than planned.
Six Flags also revealed its Q1 results, showing a 20% drop in revenue compared with the same period last year. Six Flags parks shut their doors in March and CEO Michael Spanos is hoping to reopen its parks in mid-May.
Not to be deterred by the cancellation of one of the biggest fashion events of the year, the annual Met Gala held a celebrity-filled online event on the Vogue YouTube channel, presented by Anna Wintour.
Coronavirus news from zoos, aquariums and other attractions
In other news, some attractions are coming up with innovative ways to connect with visitors from afar during the coronavirus crisis. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium live-streamed an Animal Crossing bug-themed field trip on Twitch. During the event, aquarium staff spoke alongside an entomologist from the Smithsonian.
Also on the live-streaming platform Twitch, Two Bit Circus has launched its own Cardboard Challenge. Two Bit Circus’ virtual event aims to encourage the STEAM community to inspire the next generation of inventors, using household objects like cardboard.
As the UK gears up to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE day on Friday 8 May, some of the country’s top attractions have come up with new ways to mark the occasion despite the social distancing measures in place. There will be online swing dance lessons, virtual singalongs, stories from history, and more.
While the above solutions are virtual, the San Antonio Zoo has opened its doors for people to visit in person – from the safety of their own vehicle! The safari-style Drive-Thru tour allows guests to see some of the zoo’s most-loved residents, such as its big cats and bears.
On 4 May, the news came through that one of the biggest events of 2020 will be postponed. Expo 2020 Dubai will now take place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. This is after a majority of BIE members voted in favour of changing the dates.
Open for business
The lockdown in China’s capital city of Beijing was severe. However, museums and other attractions in the city are now beginning to open, with extra restrictions in place. Ahead of the 5-day May Day holiday in China, state museums in Beijing opened their doors. For example, the Palace Museum, the National Museum of China and the National Art Museum of China.
While attendance figures at these attractions will remain low due to caps on visitor numbers, this week also saw the news that Beijing residents and domestic tourists will be able to access e-vouchers as part of the city’s coronavirus recovery scheme. They can use these to buy books, as well as tickets to art performances and sports matches.
Elsewhere in China, Shanghai also saw domestic tourists enjoying its attractions over the May Day holiday, such as the Bund and the YuYuan Garden. In Hubei, the worst-hit area of the country, 22 key attractions are now open again. This includes the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan.
Shanghai Disneyland will start to reopen on 11 May with safety precautions in place. This follows the partial reopening of some facilities at the resort in early March.
In the US, the San Diego Tourism Authority announced the news of a plan for when attractions in the region will be able to reopen after coronavirus. By following the safety precautions outlined in the plan, attractions like the USS Midway Museum and San Diego Zoo will be able to reopen sooner than previously expected.
Attractions industry responses
A Different View is running a COVID-19 Mindset survey each month. This short survey will ask those working in the attractions industry how the coronavirus pandemic has affected them. A Different View will make the results freely available.
Attractions.io has launched a new social distancing package and support program to help attractions reopen safely. It combines several key features of the Attractions.io platform, allowing operators to manage capacity and implement social distancing measures.
Meanwhile, mov(e)motions has partnered with purematic in order to provide a special offer on the pure.AIS system, which helps attractions to monitor the number of guests on-site.
Thinkwell Group announced the news that it has published a new white paper for the attractions industry, looking at what operators need to consider when reopening once the threat of coronavirus has passed.
News on COVID-19 resources for the attractions industry
IAAPA has released a new member resource called “COVID-19 Reopening Guidance: Considerations for the Global Attractions Industry.” This outlines steps that attractions can take to ensure they can reopen quickly and safely once restrictions are lifted. It can be found here, along with its other useful resources.
Earlier this year it was announced that the annual Escite conference has been cancelled. However, the member network has been working on a range of virtual initiatives, including a weekly webinar series as well as online networking sessions.
WAZA is also running a series of webinars. These aim to help zoo and aquarium professionals navigate the challenges of the coronavirus crisis. These are available to watch again online and cover topics such as how to continue conservation work during the pandemic.
AAM’s Elizabeth Merritt spoke to Blooloop about how coronavirus has affected the museum community and shared the work that the Alliance is doing to advocate on behalf of the sector.
In the UK, the Museums Association released a statement on reopening the museum sector, saying it believes that museums should be enabled to reopen to the public as soon as it is safe for public and staff to do so.
Many attractions are finding innovative ways to reach out to visitors during the pandemic. But one Tokyo aquarium has come up with a unique way to keep some of its inhabitants engaged too.
Sumida Aquarium does not want its lonely Garden Eels to forget the sound of voices. While the attraction’s doors are shut, they are becoming scared of human interaction. So, it has invited people to chat to them via video call.
— すみだ水族館【公式】 (@Sumida_Aquarium) April 3, 2020