Dreamworld’s long road to recovery
DREAMWORLD is facing a long road to recovery after reopening on Wednesday with a leading analyst predicting it will take at least four years to get back to pre-COVID attendance levels.
The Ardent Leisure-owned park opened for the first time in close to six months in time for the September school holidays.
It followed the State Goverment injecting $69.9 million to support the parks with a three-year financial package.
As a result Ardent Leisure was able to announce it would be starting work on the southern hemisphere's first multi-launch rollercoaster.
Visitors to the park were faced with a different offering on Wednesday.
Sky Voyager has opened with a new movie called 'Experience USA' while Big Red Car and Flowrider have been permanently closed. In addition, Sidewinder, The Giant Drop and Buzzsaw are under maintenance and Dreamworld Express is temporarily closed.
That prompted Citi analyst Sam Teeger to write attendance could be "subdued" as a result.
He said the closures could adversely impact the guest experience and lead to fewer pass renewals.
Dreamworld, like its competitor Village Roadshow-owned Movie World, is facing a very difficult operating climate.
International visitation is off the table and interstate travel is restricted.
Mr Teeger said this means it can only access half its target market.
He is forecasting that the first half of this financial year will see visitor numbers fall by 75 per cent across its theme parks, which also include WhiteWater World. That would mean 616,950 fewer visitors across the six months. Dreamworld has a capacity of about 12,000 but is reopening at 50 per cent capacity in line with its covid-safe plan.
"We expect theme parks will require at least four years to return to pre-COVID-19 level of attendance," Mr Teeger said.
IBISWorld senior industry analyst Liam Harrison said Dreamworld has factors working against it but also one in its favour.
"They are in a precarious position because they don't have any international tourists, they don't have interstate visitors right now so there are those short-term and long-term risks," he said.
"But they do have one advantage on their side. People have been cooped up and quite heavily restricted due to all of these covid restrictions and that creates the desire to want to go out."
Mr Harrison said the closure of some rides may turn off some punters but the 50 per cent cap would mean the impact was minimal.
Dreamworld chief operating officer Greg Yong said it has closely looked at pricing during the covid shutdown.
An annual pass has been cut to $99 or 27 cents a day.
"We think it is really affordable for families," he said.
The reopening comes weeks after Ardent Leisure pleaded guilty to breaching their health and safety duties in relation to the Thunder River Rapids Ride which killed four people.
Originally published as Dreamworld's long road to recovery