Movie World, Sea World reopening dates announced
THEME park giant Village Roadshow is reopening its signature Gold Coast attractions within weeks and urging Queenslanders to "forget the misery - and enjoy rides, slides and shows".
The company reopens its popular Sea World park plus Paradise Country on June 26, the Bulletin can reveal ahead of an official relaunch unveiling tomorrow.
Its Australian Outback Spectacular horse show and dinner follows on July 3 with family favourites Movie World and Wet'n'Wild 12 days later on July 15.
It comes after revelations the company was burning through $15 million a month since the coronavirus pandemic forced its shut down on March 23, resulting in 5000 staff being stood down.
The parks will initially open at 50 per cent capacity with Village hoping to be at full capacity in time for the NSW school holidays starting September 28.
Village Roadshow Theme Parks chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa urged people to diary the dates: "No one has had any entertainment and fun right? We want you to forget about all the misery and problems … and enjoy the rides, slides and shows."
The company was taking a chance by reopening and unsure how people would react, he said.
"This is like shooting an arrow in the dark with the borders still closed," he said. "We don't know what the level of confidence will be out there.
"I urge everyone in Queensland to come. We all know if the theme parks are successful in opening and do well, the city will do well."
Mr Randhawa said comprehensive covid-safe plan measures included:
● A new app enabling people to avoid queues by booking rides on phones as well as ordering food and beverages;
● Cleaning of rides before and after each use;
● All public areas to be sanitised;
● Three Queensland Health workers working with the parks to ensure best covid-safe practice;
● Covid-safe training for staff to identify any cleanliness or social distancing breaches;
● Markers to ensure social distancing while people queue for rides.
Mr Randhawa said social distancing would be applied differently depending on the ride.
He said for MovieWorld's DC Rivals Hypercoaster it was unnecessary to have empty seats between people because there were already partitions or gaps.
"There are a lot of things we will be working on with the health department when we reopen.
"If you look at the Scooby Doo ride you can only have four people per carriage. A family of four could get on one carriage but two separate couples would each take their own carriage because that's how the train is built."
Sea World and Paradise Country were chosen to go first because Movie World had more rides needing testing before operations could resume, he said.
"If everything goes well we will have a discussion on increasing capacity. It is a responsible approach to opening the park. The aim is to get to the September school holidays at 100 per cent capacity with the interstate market reopening."
Most of the 5000 staff stood down had been placed on JobKeeper payments.
Mr Randhawa said he expected a majority of part and full-time staff to be back from June 26.
"JobKeeper has helped us in many ways to implement the COVID-19 plans," he said.
"At this stage we have engaged just the preopening crew and we will play it by ear."
The reopening comes as Village today announced an extension to talks with equity firm BGH Capital on a proposed takeover.
Village said there had been a two-week extension to initial month-long talks.
A further two-week extension is expected if "the parties continue to actively pursue the potential transaction".
Village CEO Clark Kirby said negotiations with the State Government on a long-term funding deal were progressing well: "We continue to work with State and Federal Governments to secure funding to ensure we can trade through this uncertain period."
Originally published as BREAKING: Movie World, Sea World reopening dates announced