Ardent Leisure to reopen Dreamworld and WhiteWater World

Ardent Leisure to reopen Dreamworld and WhiteWater World

Ardent Leisure (ASX: ALG) has announced plans to reopen Dreamworld and WhiteWater World on the Gold Coast in mid-September, just in time for the school holidays.

The reopening date is expected to be confirmed over the next week, but in any case it comes months after competitor Village Roadshow (ASX: VRL) - currently in the midst of a buyout from BGH Capital - reopened its Gold Coast theme parks.

Ardent says its staged reopening has been made possible by the Queensland Government's COVID-19 Industry Support Package and Queensland Tourism Icons Program 2020, through which financial assistance has now been received.

Ardent's SkyPoint Observation Deck and Climb located in Surfers Paradise reopened on Friday, 10 July 2020

"We appreciate the Queensland Government's strong recognition of the important role that the theme park industry plays in the economic development of Queensland and the broader tourism industry in Australia," Ardent Leisure chairman Dr Gary Weiss and theme parks chief executive officer John Osborne said in a joint statement.

"The Queensland Government's foresight in providing this financial assistance package will enable Ardent to re-open its iconic theme parks, continue to employ hundreds of people and continue to invest in future tourism infrastructure and create more local jobs.

"We are very excited about welcoming back our valued team members and loyal guests and have already commenced preparations for the re-opening of our parks, including the implementation of our Queensland Health approved COVID SAFE Plan," added Osborne.

The announcement is the first good news in a while for Ardent, which late last month pleaded guilty over three charges relating to the 2016 Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy.

Other theme parks on the Gold Coast including Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild have reopened at 50 per cent, and their parent company Village Roadshow yesterday entered an implementation agreement for a takeover from a group connected to BGH.

BGH is aiming to acquire control of VRL by way of two alternative but concurrent schemes of arrangement representing total value of up to $2.45 per share, which is 16.7 per cent higher than yesterday's closing price.

Th full value of the takeover would only be achieved if VRL keeps its theme parks open, reopens cinemas and Queensland borders reopen for any person from New South Wales (from 15 October) and Victoria (31 October).

Updated at 9:46am AEST on 7 August 2020.

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