Can Rain Checks Encourage Theme Park Fans to Return?

June 11, 2020, 11:18 AM · One of the emerging storylines from the reopening of theme parks across the country appears to be people's reluctance to return. None of the parks that have reopened have had much trouble enforcing lower capacity limits, as crowds have pretty much stayed away. Advance ticket sales suggest the trend might continue through the summer, as people note the spiking number of coronavirus cases in many communities... as well as the ever-dropping amount of money in their bank accounts as the Covid recession continues.

So theme parks are going to have to get creative if they want to get people coming through the gates this season. Discounted tickets can be one solution, but Indiana's Holiday World is trying another, too.

Holiday World and Splashin' Safari has introduced a "Worry Free Weather Guarantee." Essentially, it's a rain check. If weather forces park attractions close for two or more hours on a day, guests can present their ticket from that day to visit on another day of their choosing.

"After an abnormally rainy June last year, we wanted to do more for our guests who had picked stormy weather days through no fault of their own," Holiday World President Matt Eckert said. "We've worked a little magic on our end so all guests get a fair shot at having a fantastic day here."

Holiday World will post days for which the guarantee was activated on its website. Screenshots of digital tickets will be accepted for return to the park.

Holiday World reopens to the public on June 17. Check the official return dates for theme parks across the country in our post, When Will Your Favorite Theme Parks Reopen?

Will a raincheck guarantee catch on at other parks, as the industry looks to recover attendance? Would a weather guarantee make you more likely to commit to visiting a theme park this summer? Tell us your thoughts, in the comments.

Replies (11)

June 11, 2020 at 11:32 AM

Holiday World has used Rain Check policies in the past, but I don't think it really affected their attendance or revenue. The issue I see is that if parks are requiring guests to reserve their visit in advance, and they end up picking a rainy day thus triggering the Rain Check Policy, what are they supposed to do if there are no reservations available in the subsequent days.

This Rain Check policy is a great peace of mind for guests that are concerned about picking their day in advance, but won't do much good if you are unable to find another day to return to the park when there's space available to accommodate the rained out guests. For a small park like Holiday World, it probably won't be a problem, but other bigger parks might run into issues by frustrating guests even further because they can't find a way to visit another day because of capacity.

June 11, 2020 at 12:27 PM

You don’t have these? They’re common in the uk...

June 11, 2020 at 1:17 PM

@Chad - Smaller parks have tinkered with rain checks over the years (Kennywood and Dollywood have advertised them in the past too if I remember correctly), but they haven't been widely adopted here because it's rare to have an entire theme park day get rained out. If WDW had a policy like this, they'd be giving millions of rain checks during the summer months when you can set your watch to the daily thunderstorms that usually last for an hour or 2 every single afternoon.

I think these policies are just more trouble than what they're worth, because people will try to take advantage of them to get a second visit out of a single day ticket.

June 11, 2020 at 1:47 PM

Regional parks may benefit from this to entice customers to come back, but I would not expect the Florida parks to offer this. Besides the fact that it rains nearly everyday in central Florida in the summer, many attractions are indoors and unaffected by weather.

June 11, 2020 at 1:53 PM

I remember Universal Studios Hollywood had a rain check policy too but you know So Cal weather is pretty agreeable most of the time.

June 11, 2020 at 1:57 PM

I also wonder how Sea World Orlando's opening is going today in their reopening. One thing that is not going to help their attendance is having attractions closed. Why are Antarctica, Journey to Atlantis, Wild Arctic, and others all closed at the same time?! Universal opened with everything operating minus the kid play areas. That doesn't leave much for the non-coaster riding folks. I'm just saying, that is not going to help attendance.

June 11, 2020 at 2:13 PM

@Manny Barron: So far, it sounds like it kicked off with PETA doing a small protest. Sounds like at Universal, crowds lighter but still some folks eager to get back to fun.

And I totally want the shark-themed masks they're selling.

June 11, 2020 at 2:53 PM

On our trip to Holiday World last year, it came a monsoon. That was the first stop of a 7 day trip. We were thankful for the rain check policy. We added a day on the back end of the trip for Holiday World. We had a great time and can't wait until we can get back there again. Of course, we also got rained out of Kings Island as well as several other days of our trip. Luckily, we got in most of a brutally hot (110 heat index) day at Cedar Point before it came another monsoon and killed the last three hours of that day. I am worried about trying to string together a multi park trip with the need for reservations. We actually had a 6 park trip through the east coast planned for the end of this month that is going to have to be postponed.

June 11, 2020 at 3:26 PM

Rain check policy would do nothing for me. There are no parks here in Alberta so we go once or twice a year to Orlando or LA for our theme parks fix. Due to COVID we most likely will not be going now until next year and rain or shine we would go to the park.

If we had a relatively big park like a Six Flags or Dollywood type place within driving distance then I can see this being a great perk for us and we would use it if we did get rained out. Its nice of some parks to due this but as a business I doubt this makes them any money. Main reason why I agree that no Florida park would ever do this. They simply don't need too.

June 11, 2020 at 4:50 PM

@Russel / I agree it probably wouldn’t work in Orlando, although I really liked how you could set your watch by the weather. When it hit that time I was thankful for it.

June 13, 2020 at 12:39 PM

I'm surprised by all these "Not in Central Florida" comments. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have both been offering this for years. In fairness, those parks are more impacted by rain than WDW or Uni.

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