While reporting a massive $136.6 million loss for the 2019/20 financial year, Ardent Leisure is confident that demand for Gold Coast’s theme parks will be “stronger than ever” after the Coronavirus pandemic subsides.
Revealing the group’s full year results yesterday, Ardent Leisure Chairman, Dr Gary Weiss advised that said revenue for the 12 months to 30th June was $398.3 million, down $85 million on the previous period.
Ardent reported $54.5 million in revenue from its Dreamworld and WhiteWater World attractions - down 18.8% on the previous year, ascribing the drop as being largely due to the closure of the parks in March.
With Dreamworld and WhiteWater World to reopen on 16th September, Ardent advised that revenue prior to the closures was $51.4 million, with attendance and revenue growth at 4.5% and 4.7% respectively.
Commenting on the results, Dr Weiss said COVID-19 had a significant impact on the business, noting “while positive progress has been achieved by Main Event (Ardent’s US-based business) and theme parks in the first eight months of the year, our focus turned to capital management and securing capital for the businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated.”
Dr Weiss said the company is starting the current financial year from a position of strength thanks to Redbird Capital buying a stake in its Main Event business in the USA and $69.9 million in funding over three years from the Queensland Government.
He advised “the financial assistance package provided by the Queensland Government will enable us to reopen Dreamworld and WhiteWater World and continue to employ hundreds of people, directly and indirectly.”
Nonetheless, Dr Weiss warned of “uncertain and challenging conditions” for the industry, while lockdowns and border restrictions cause significant disruptions to the travel and leisure industries, adding “we believe that the demand for out-of-home family entertainment experiences will be stronger than ever once the pandemic has subsided and restrictions have eased.”
Ardent Leisure Theme Parks Chief Executive, John Osborne said his team continued to focus on minimising cash burn and taking a “disciplined” approach to reopening its attractions.
Osborne added “we are currently facing the toughest set of business conditions in decades meaning that uncertainty is likely to prevail for some time and we look forward to taking this challenge head on by being prepared to adjust as conditions evolve.”
Dr Weiss also advised that work on Dreamworld’s new multi-launch rollercoaster is set to commence “as soon as possible”, with the ride expected to open in next year.
This work has been made possible by the Queensland Government’s package with the company having more than $100 million available for the Australian business (including $32.6 million of its own cash).
In addition, the Main Event division of family entertainment centres has $129 million of cash available but both funding pools are kept separate.
The company also benefited from selling off a 5630 metre² parcel of what it calls “surplus land” at Coomera for $2.5 million.
While Dreamworld is set to open on 16th September, the attraction will be going through a period of significant change.
While work on its new rollercoaster is set to get underway, Ardent has announced that following a review it will close two of Dreamworld’s rides - the Wiggles-themed Big Red Car and Flowrider surf wave simulator.
These latest ride closure follow those of Thunder River Rapids, Wipeout, Rocky Hollow Log Ride, and Tower of Terror II of recent years.
Commenting on the closures, the company advised that Dreamworld’s “remaining ride count will be comparable to our closest competitor and presents a diverse range of kids, family and thrill rides.”
In response, the Parkz theme park enthusiasts website has reported that this will see “Dreamworld's already threadbare attraction lineup … become thinner as the theme park gears up for reopening in September”, highlighting that the “Big Red Car Ride was the park's only substantive ride for young children, the park's only traditional dark ride as well as the anchor attraction for the ABC Kids area which is a mix of ‘same-same’ kids flat rides that would be equally at home in any shopping centre or school fete.”
Parkz added pay-to-ride FlowRider “has seen its popularity wane - perhaps in large part to its confusing location in a dry theme park - as opposed to WhiteWater World meters away - (and) the transformation of its surrounds into a confusing mess of racing cars, beach theme and Trolls, as well as an overall deemphasis at Dreamworld on experiences and upsells as the business model moved towards repeat visitation from local residents.”
Despite its many challenges, morale among Dreamworld’s management team is understood to be high.As explained to Australasian Leisure Management by a Dreamworld team member "a lot of high-quality managers have joined Dreamworld in the past couple of years. They wouldn't have come on board to close the place down."
Images: The concept for Dreamworld's new rollercoaster (top), Ardent Leisure Chairman, Dr Gary Weiss (middle) and Dreamworld's Trolls (below).
25th August 2020 - WhiteWater World prepares for reopening with refurbishments and rigorous safety program
14th August 2020 - Ardent Leisure to reopen Dreamworld on 16th September
7th August 2020 - $70 million Queensland Government lifeline drives Ardent Leisure’s Dreamworld reopening announcement
29th July 2020 - Ardent Leisure pleads guilty over 2016 Dreamworld ride deaths
28th July 2020 - Indigenous leaders worried about future of Dreamworld Corroboree precinct
10th July 2020 - Coronavirus impact sees Dreamworld make 50 positions redundant
24th June 2020 - Shutdown impacts Dreamworld’s plans for construction of new rollercoaster
18th June 2020 - Ardent Leisure shareholders launch class action over Dreamworld deaths
25th February 2020 - Ardent Leisure shares fall after critical Coroner’s report into Dreamworld tragedy
25th February 2020 - Queensland Government announces acceptance of Coroner’s findings into 2016 Dreamworld ride deaths
24th February 2020 - Coroner’s report on Dreamworld fatalities exposes Ardent Leisure to prosecution for multiple safety breaches
8th February 2020 - Dreamworld permanently closes Rocky Hollow Log Ride
7th February 2020 - Dreamworld enjoys successful peak season
21st December 2019 - New waterslides open at Dreamworld’s WhiteWater World
15th December 2019 - Dreamworld kicks off 38th anniversary celebrations
27th May 2020 - AALARA releases guide for the reopening of Australia’s attractions industry
25th March 2020 - AALARA releases COVID-19 Action Plan
26th June 2020 - Gold Coast theme parks impacted by failure to secure Federal Government loan deal
17th June 2020 - Village Roadshow announces reopening schedule for Gold Coast theme parks
5th June 2020 - Ardent and Village Roadshow look for early reopening of Gold Coast theme parks
22nd May 2020 - Financial impact of Coronavirus puts new rides at Gold Coast theme parks on hold
27th August 2019 - Ardent Leisure looks to shrinking of Dreamworld’s footprint for development
28th June 2019 - Ardent Leisure facing potential $80 million liability in wake of Dreamworld inquest
8th April 2019 - Ardent Leisure borrows $225 million for attractions investment
9th March 2019 - Dreamworld announces permanent closure of The WipeOut
1st October 2009 - Union looks for Dreamworld pay breakthrough
13th March 2017 - Parkz website launches Support our Theme Parks campaign
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.