COVID-19 impact

2 San Antonio theme parks make dramatic cuts in response to COVID-19

2 San Antonio theme parks make dramatic cuts in response to COVID-19

Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Six Flag Fiesta is closed at least through mid-May. Courtesy of Six Flags Fiesta Texas/Facebook

The owners of SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas are taking drastic steps in response to the current coronavirus pandemic, including staffing cuts and pay cuts.

Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said March 27 that it’s furloughing more than 90 percent of its employees effective April 1. The company says furloughed employees won’t be paid while they’re out of work; SeaWorld previously said it would keep paying its full-time “ambassadors.”

The temporary closure of SeaWorld San Antonio started March 16 and initially was supposed to end March 31, but the shutdown has been extended indefinitely.

SeaWorld says it “looks forward to welcoming back its ambassadors and guests when it is safe to open again.”

While SeaWorld San Antonio is closed, experts will keep caring for the animals housed there, the theme park says.

The headcount at SeaWorld San Antonio and SeaWorld Entertainment wasn’t available.

San Antonio’s other major theme park, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, announced March 30 that its temporary closure has been pushed to mid-May or “as soon as possible thereafter.”

“While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at the property, the safety of our guests and team members is always our highest priority,” Six Flags Fiesta Texas says.

In addition, Grand Prairie-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp. laid out the following cost-saving measures due to COVID-19, effective April 6:

  • Reduction of base salaries of executive officers by 25 percent.
  • Reduction of salaries for all full-time salaried employees by 25 percent.
  • Reduction of scheduled hours for full-time hourly employees by 25 percent, dropping to 30 hours a week.

In a release, Mike Spanos, president and CEO of Six Flags, says the company chose to decrease salaries rather than furlough or lay off employees so they’ll retain income and health insurance, and so Six Flags will have an “experienced workforce” in place when its parks reopen.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and team members is our most important priority,” Spanos says. “While these actions are difficult for all of us, they will help the company weather the current crisis by reducing expenses.”

The headcount at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags Entertainment wasn’t available.