Dreamworld and WhiteWater World reopen in time for school holidays

Dreamworld and WhiteWater World reopen in time for school holidays

After six months of closures, Ardent Leisure's (ASX: ALD) Gold Coast theme parks Dreamworld and WhiteWater World have reopened to the public this morning, in time for Queensland school holidays.

The two neighbouring parks were forced to close down back in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated health risks to patrons, but both are up and running as of 10am today.

Both parks will operate under an approved COVID Safe plan, meaning a number of popular attractions will remain closed, physical distancing will be enforced in-park, and hand washing facilities and sanitiser will be readily available.

In addition, WhiteWater World is now a seasonal water park, meaning it will only operate from early September until late January annually and across some peak weekends.

Back in August Ardent Leisure announced the reopening of its theme parks was made possible thanks to the Queensland Government's COVID-19 Industry Support Package and Queensland Tourism Icons Program 2020.

However, today's reopening comes months after competitor Village Roadshow (ASX: VRL) was able to open the gates to its Gold Coast-based theme parks Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet'n'Wild and Paradise Country.

VRL reopened back in late-June under an approved COVID Safe plan and at 50 per cent capacity.

The enforced closures of Ardent Leisure's theme parks and cinemas in the US due to COVID-19 restrictions resulted in the company reporting a full year loss of $136.6 million.

Total reported revenue for the Dreamworld operator decreased by $85 million to $398.3 million in the full year, also due to COVID-19 restrictions on trade.

Ardent Leisure also suffered from an impairment charge of $15.4 million on property, plant and equipment in its theme parks division, and a charge of $2 million relating to its Main Event family entertainment centre business.

The reopening also comes nearly two months after Ardent Leisure pleaded guilty over three charges relating to the 2016 Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy.

Each of the three charges over breaches of the QLD Work Health and Safety Act (2011) attract a maximum penalty of $1.5 million, meaning the company could now be slugged with $4.5 million in fines.

Shares in Ardent Leisure are up 1.10 per cent to $0.46 per share at 10.36am AEST.

Updated at 11.08am AEST on 16 September 2020.

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