Following 2020’s heavily curtailed operational season, several UK theme parks are this year operating under extended calendars and opening hours.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach will be fully open until mid-December, while Adventure Island in Southend is opening all the way up to Christmas Eve.
Many others parks are running with later closing times, even where their operational calendars have not been particularly extended.
Pent-up consumer demand in the British economy has traversed into the attractions industry, as theme parks have regularly hit capacity – particularly over the Halloween and scare season in October.
While admission costs have generally been higher than in 2020, the demand from visitors appears to have been undampened.
Hull Fair was also hailed as a huge success and extremely busy this year. It has been a rare walk-up attraction not requiring pre-booking since COVID-19 hit the country.
Many parks have now moved to a pre-booking only system – some with time slots – as will Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland this year.
The requirement to pre-book not been universally popular however, particularly among holders of theme park annual passes.
But RideRater has noted the increased innovation from park and attraction operators as they look to recover from the coronavirus impact.
The design of Halloween scare attractions, as well as wider operations have diversified in ways not seen before.
Here to stay?
The past year or so has also seen new events such as Oktoberfest-style offerings at Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
This re-thinking, arguably forced, is possibly one of the silver clouds of the coronavirus crisis.
Park managers have introduced new opening hours and extended operating dates across their calendars in order to capitalised on the so-called staycation demand seen in the UK.
The British theme park industry today looks a little closer to the operating strategy of rivals in Europe and North America.
Only time will tell if these extended operations are here to stay, but if the demand is there – why not?