Frank Stanek, executive advisor with The Producers Group (TPG) and TEA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, is urging the attractions industry to “keep moving forward.”

In a recently released white paper, Stanek encouraged entertainment and attraction developers to continue planning and design projects in anticipation of an eventual recovery.

In an open letter to clients and partners of TPD, including the likes of Universal and Disney, Stanek noted: “Now is not the time to regress or ‘pull back’ from moving forward with projects that are tourism, entertainment or visitor-related. In fact, this is an ideal time to continue the development of well thought out projects, having attractive, market appealing concepts, sound business plans, and execution strategy.”

Stanek went on to remind that following a significant disruption or downturn, that higher growth within 6 to 24 months historically occurs.

Citing the “certain positive advantages to keep ‘moving forward’”, Stanek forecasts: “The current health and financial uncertainty will run through its cycle and in most cases, it will be of short duration but certainly, the situation will improve, financial markets will return to positive growth, health issues will be managed and solutions found and tourism and attraction visitation will return to normal dynamics.”

As we wait during these difficult times, the award-winning TPG executive advisor recommends that: “In these uncertain times those who move forward with their projects will gain the initiative over those who wait and be positioned to capture more than their market share when the cycle of uncertainty ends and tourism and visitor growth returns.”



Work on Gulliver’s Valley theme park in Rotherham, Yorkshire, has been put on hold because of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown.

The 250-acre theme park was due to open in late spring. Bookings had started to be taken for entrance to the site in June.

In an announcement, the theme park’s owners said that work on the site had been suspended. While they acknowledged it could change, the owners also said they do not expect a delay to the planned opening date.

Julie Dalton, managing director of Gulliver’s Theme Parks and Resorts, commented: “To ensure the safety of our staff and to adhere to the Government guidance for people to stay at home, we decided to temporarily suspend construction work on our Gulliver’s Valley site on Monday, March 23.

“While we could never have predicted the current situation, we do have ample flexibility built into our schedule for unknown delays or disruption. Therefore, this existing downtime is currently not impacting on when we’ll be opening the doors. If this changes in the coming weeks then we will, of course, keep everyone updated.

“In the meantime, however, please be reassured that our back office team are still working extremely hard behind the scenes to deliver a fantastic theme park that will entertain families for many years to come creating even better experiences, birthday party products, sleepovers and some really exciting special events yet to be revealed!

“We cannot wait to continue the build. We’re ready to resume works as soon as it is safe for our teams to do so and we’ll be sure to keep the public updated with any new information as the situation unfolds,” Dalton continued.



Arts Council England has launched a £160m emergency package to help entertainment and leisure facilities that are suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vital funds’ package is designed to help theatres, galleries, museums, entertainment venues, artists and freelancers in the industry, at a time when attraction sites have had to close across the UK.

The support package includes £90 million for National Portfolio Organisations, £20 million for individuals and £50 million for other organisations to in the National Portfolio.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, commented: “COVID-19 is having an impact globally, far beyond the cultural sector – but our responsibility is to sustain our sector as best we can, so that artists and organisations can continue to nourish the imagination of people across the country, both during the crisis and in the period of recovery.”

“None of us can hope to weather this storm alone, but by working together in partnership, I believe we can emerge the stronger, with ideas shared, new ways of working, and new relationships forged at the local, national and even international level,” Serota added.



Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have temporarily stopped construction during the closure of the sites amid the coronavirus outbreak, in-line with government legislation.

At Disney California Adventure, building on the Avenger Campus has been paused. The Avengers Campus, which boasts a Marvel theme, was due to open on July 18, 2020.

At Disneyland, construction of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway dark ride has also been halted. The Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction was due to debut in 2022.

When the park was closed on March 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland commenced a number of refurbishment projects, including the renovation of King Arthur Carrousel, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and the Haunted Mansion. Renovations were also set to be carried out on the theme park’s Indiana Jones Adventure attraction.

The news of the halting of construction at the site quells plans that one comforting prospect of the temporary closure of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure is that crew would have unrestricted access to concentrate on construction and maintenance projects.



The Shipwreck Island waterpark in Panama City Beach, Florida, has taken a series of precautionary measures in an attempt to protect its staff and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The control measures include the sending home of employees. However, in a statement the park’s management said, employees at the waterpark would be able to return to the attraction site during the next couple of weeks to work on essential tasks.

Shipwreck Island also announced its lifeguard classes have been cancelled and that season pass holders will not be allowed to arrive at the waterpark to take photos for the passes they had ordered online.

The waterpark is due to reopen on April 18, 2020. Though the park’s management said such precautionary measures may delay the opening date for the new season.



IAAPA’s online learning management system is offering e-learning courses to provide information about COVID-19.

Topics include pandemic planning, crisis management, coronavirus preparedness, infection control, precautions and prevention, working from home and other key topics to help members get through the current crisis.

Subtitles are provided with the courses in multiple languages, including European Spanish, European Portugal, Thai, US English, Chinese, Canadian French, European French and German.

In a statement on its website, IAAPA notes the importance of e-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: “eLearning provides an efficient path to rapidly educate employees about preventing the spread of coronavirus, as well as how to work and manage tasks remotely.”

The duration of the courses range from 3 minutes to 30 minutes. All the courses are free and are available to IAAPA members until May 15.



The Wild Florida Airboat, Gator & Drive-thru Safari Park is to stay open for guests during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. To help prevent the spread of the virus, the park is implementing several measures to encourage social distancing among visitors.

The measures follow the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations about social distancing.

Visitors can travel through the safari park in their own cars to witness the different species of native and exotic animals. Guests can book to visit the park and check-in online so no physical contact with members of staff is required.

All airboat tours and encounters with animals will remain suspended.

Sam Haught, co-owners of Wild Florida, commented: ““We are disappointed to suspend our airboat tours and close our Gator Park, but as a company, we feel compelled to take responsible steps to help control the spread of the virus.

“Fortunately, our Drive-thru Safari Park allows people to get out of the house and practice social distancing. We are glad to offer a safe activity that is fun and affordable for families during these unprecedented times,” Haught continued.



In response to the COVID0-19 pandemic, Merlin Entertainments is closing its theme parks and attractions in the UK for a temporary period.

The sites suspending operations include Legoland Windsor, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures.

Legoland Windsor was closed on March 20 but the Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel will remain open for now.

The opening of Alton Towers, due on March 20, has been postponed until further notice.

In a statement, Merlin Entertainments said: While we have been looking forward to welcoming visitors this weekend, we believe that this decision is the right thing to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and guests. Alton Towers Resort will remain closed until further notice.”

Chessington World of Adventure Resort closed on March 21. The resort announced: “We believe that this is the right decision to protect the health and wellbeing of our guests and staff.”

This season’s opening of Thorpe Park has also been postponed from March 21.



Six Flags is shutting down its parks throughout the United States due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

In a statement, the park said it was to close its gates temporarily, suspending operation until the end of March when the situation will be reassessed.

Mike Spanos, president and CEO of Six Flags said: “Our goal is to support our team members and our communities by never compromising the safety of guests or employees.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, we have followed the guidance of federal, state and local authorities. As of today, many states have declared a state of emergency and are recommending that all non-essential gatherings of large groups be postponed or cancelled,” Spanos added.