Industry will heal itself after COVID-19

The amusement industry was forced to make a shocking change of course in early March. While Amusement Today had already reported on park and attraction closures in Asia resulting from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, our jaws still dropped with the sudden shutdown of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as a preventative measure against the disease stateside. Our concerns immediately shifted to the well-being of the midway operators and concessionaires who depend on the popular event for their livelihood.


Within 24 hours, the dominoes began falling faster and closer to home. The Disney resorts on both U.S. coasts announced they were closing their theme parks for at least two weeks. Universal and Legoland did the same. In a surreal flash, the rest of the industry followed — and the season was delayed until at least April. Family entertainment centers also voluntarily closed or restructured admission policies to limit capacity in accordance with government-issued social distancing recommendations.

This industry is a global family. From the teenagers awaiting their first minimum wage jobs to the industry veterans who operate legendary facilities to the designers and manufacturers who create the rides, every week of this unprecedented shutdown makes us feel the pinch and stir fears over what tomorrow may bring.

There will be shakeups and losses, to be sure. That same global family feeling is our key to knowing we’ll get through this. After the Ohio State Fair ride tragedy in 2017, the industry banded together to enhance its safety preparation, testing and training. After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey in 2012, the attraction operators rallied and rebuilt — bringing the affected parks back stronger than ever. When the dust settles from COVID-19, the industry will regroup and return smiles to the faces of guests in no time.

The people behind the amusements, cut from a cloth woven of dreamers and fearless laborers, are uniquely committed to the serious business of fun. The industry is and always has been resilient, and this time, too, it will persevere.