Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Will More Theme Parks Shut Down?

Source: Klook.com

The third Disney theme park was closed recently. Japan has seen temporary closure of Disneyland Japan, Universal Studios Japan and Legoland Japan.

Disneyland in Shanghai was closed on January 25 and Hong Kong Disneyland was closed on January 26. Neither has yet announced plans to reopen. Oriental Land Co which runs the Tokyo Disney property believes that the theme park will be reopened in two weeks pending government decision and Covid-19 situation.

In Thailand, major theme park Legend Siam announced its closure starting March 3 due to a drop in visitors. There is a possibility that more theme parks in Asia and Europe will close down as COVID-19 has been spreading the world over. This may have an adverse effect on the industry.

Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Park & Family Attractions (MAATFA) president Tan Sri Richard Koh told theedgemarkets.com that visitorship in January, post-Chinese New Year, dropped 38%, and that in the first 20 days of February, patronage tumbled by a staggering 80%. As a result, Koh expects the industry, of which all categories of attractions have been affected "... especially waterparks and family entertainment centres and playland," to take between six and nine months to recover.

Theme parks, amusement parks and attractions located in Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Sabah, Sarawak and Melaka have been worst hit. The growing threat of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic has some onlookers concerned that many more theme parks may temporary close or possibly close for good.

One of the theme parks in Malaysia that was closed recently is the Movie Animation Park Studios (“MAPS”) in Ipoh. It was closed not due to the COVID-19 outbreak but the company was unable to service the loan. Animation Theme Park Sdn Bhd which is the owner, defaulted on the RM21 million loan over the last two months.

The Perak state government has tried in finding ways of making MAPS more attractive to tourists but failed. One of the reasons behind the closure was the cancellation of the Dream Zone attractions. The Dream Zone attractions is a collaboration between DreamWorks Animation and Animation Theme Park Sdn Bhd. Dream Zone was supposed to be the main attraction to the theme park as it featured some of DreamWorks movie characters like Megamind and the Croods. The cancellation of this attraction had a negative impact in drawing foreign tourists.

Another theme park that closed recently is Sanrio Hello Kitty Town theme park in Puteri Harbour. Welcoming visitors since 2012, the theme park cost some RM110 mil to build. The Puteri Harbour building also houses a number of other attractions, including a Thomas Town indoor park, which closed concurrently. Other popular theme parks that have closed include Desa Waterpark in Kuala Lumpur and Wet World Adventure Park in Penang.

Nonetheless, industry players are hoping to see recovery in the second half of this year, as more efforts are made to revive business performance.

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