Amusement returns

AT: John W.C. Robinson

March of 2020 was a tale of two worlds. As it started, things were looking up like never before. While attending the Amusement Expo International 2020 in New Orleans, there was a vibe of positivity. The industry as a whole was looking forward to the year to come, excited about new products and new ideas. The shadow of COVID-19 had not really been cast yet, just a mildly talked about new virus that was making a couple headlines. We’d been through the Swine Flu, West Nile and others. There was no suspecting this was anything more.


Flash forward about 24 hours from the end of AEI 2020, and the world had started to turn sideways. Attractions were shutting down, expos and fairs were being postponed or canceled, and there was more change looming.

Amusement Today has covered extensively the adaptability of the FEC industry. They are attractions ready to pivot as the world demands. That flexibility allowed many FECs to prosper even during the heights of the pandemic. 

Now, Amusement Expo International 2021 is just on the horizon. It required adapting to occur, changing its scheduled dates multiple time and planning ahead to promote an environment all attending would be comfortable in. However, it’s happening. An in-person industry expo is welcoming attendees onto an indoor showfloor to start promoting the future of the business of fun once again.

We have — finally — come full circle.

With crowds starting to fill open parks, many facilities dropping outdoor mask requirements, new-for-2020 attractions finally debuting and now the return of in-person expos, the industry is starting to feel a long-awaited rebound from the unprecedented 2020 pandemic. And the family entertainment center side of the industry is leading the way.

Want proof? Funplex has opened an all new location in Myrtle Beach. The Veltmeijer Group has opened more than a dozen of its branded FECs in the past 12 months. Scene75 is about to add a location in the Chicago area. Revenue at Urban Air Adventure Parks is up, setting numbers higher than in 2019.

The sun is setting on the challenges of the past year, and the new dawn is loaded with the promise of possibility and hope … and families eager to return to the entertainment attractions that deliver smiles, escape and innovative fun for everyone.

This article appears in the JUNE 2021 issue of Amusement Today.
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