No news is sad news for Six Flags Darien Lake patrons, seasonal part-time workers
With no specific guidance on reopening criteria from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, the window for amusement and theme parks to welcome back guests this summer is closing fast.
The rides and attractions at Six Flags Darien Lake remain dormant with only two months remaining before the popular entertainment venue’s scheduling closing date of Nov. 1.
“We’re certainly disappointed that we haven’t been able to open, but we’re doing what we have to do,” Communications Manager Mike Arena said on Monday. “The state is dictating what we need to do to get ready and when they do give us the green light, we will be ready.”
Amusement parks, casinos and movie theaters are on the outside looking in, while other Phase Four recreational and social industries such bowling centers and gyms/fitness centers just recently were able to open their doors following months of a COVID-19-induced shutdown.
Arena acknowledged the financial impact upon the multimillion dollar operation – revenues and summer jobs lost – but said Darien Lake officials are saddened because they “haven’t been able to deliver, thus far, a great product for the area that’s safe and fun” – even if at a smaller scale due to mandated attendance limits.
“Six Flags in different parts of the country have opened and have had great success, with the social distancing and safety protocols in place,” he said. “As much as we want to be open, we understand that the state is doing what’s best to keep everyone safe. And we are working hand-in-hand and very diligently with the state.”
Darien Lake employs around a thousand people for seasonal jobs – students and others seeking to supplement their income. Others are hired by Live Nation to work at the summer concerts, which also have been postponed or canceled.
Arena said the company’s full-time employees have been able to keep working thanks, in part, to “programs the government is implementing (such as the Payroll Protection Program).”
“We may be cutting people’s hours but we haven’t (laid people off). We’re doing a good job with that,” he said.
As far as patrons who purchased memberships or season passes, Arena said they will not lose out on their investments.
“Members who pay monthly had the option to pause their payments or they will receive a month for every month they didn’t get – and the same goes for those with a season pass, they would get a day for every day they didn’t get,” Arena said, adding that if the park doesn’t open in 2020, all of those benefits will transfer to 2021.
A season pass allows people to get into the park, while a membership – tiered at Gold Plus, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Elite – is paid each month (even when the park is closed) and comes with numerous benefits and discounts.
Arena said that members will be “bumped up” to the next highest tier in consideration of the inconvenience of not being able to enjoy the attraction this summer – at least not yet.
“While the state hasn’t given us any indication right now, we’re having constant conversations (with NYS officials) and the conversation on our level is to be ready and to have everything corporate-wide -- all the safety measures and the sanitation stuff – in place," he said.