Village Roadshow shares dive following theme park trading update

Village Roadshow saw a drop of almost 10 per cent in its share price this morning following the release of a trading update for its theme park operations. Village Roadshow state that the local Queensland market has reduced significantly as a result of October's incident at Dreamworld.

Image: Richard Wilson. Village Roadshow Theme Parks puts a 12% drop in local attendance down to Dreamworld's tragic incident.

Village Roadshow Theme Parks, the division of Village Roadshow that operates Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and both the Gold Coast and Sydney Wet'n'Wild parks, have today provided their first update as the park comes out of its first summer trading since a tragic incident took four lives at Dreamworld, a competing theme park operated by Ardent Leisure.

In their update today, Village Roadshow state: "Prior to the tragic incident at Dreamworld in October, VIP and Membership sales were broadly in line with expectations and attendance was solid."

While international interstate visitation remains steady – likely due to such travel being arranged prior to the incident at Dreamworld on October 26 – it's the locals where VRTP have suffered.

"[T]he local Queensland market which previously represented approximately 60% of attendances, has declined by more than 12% on the prior year since the Dreamworld incident."

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The local market is the target audience for VIP and Membership passes so the reduction in attendance from these locals doesn't necessarily translate into lower ticket sales, though the flow-on from this is lower revenue from food and beverage, merchandise and other purchases in park.

Village Roadshow Theme Parks also puts lower attendance at Wet'n'Wild Sydney down to fallout from the Dreamworld incident and the resulting media coverage and changes in consumer sentiment.

"Wet'n'Wild Sydney appears to have been similarly affected by the incident."

Full results from the six months up to 31 December will be released on 23 February, but for now Village Roadshow have state their commitment to their theme park operations despite the figures:

"VRTP maintains its unwavering commitment to guest safety, exciting attractions and wonderful guest experiences, however believes it will take time for the company to fully recover from the Dreamworld tragedy. To accelerate this process the Company is actively persuing a PR and marketing campaign on a wide front."

In their most recent trading update, Ardent Leisure, owners of Dreamworld, suggested that revenue was down 63 per cent for the month of December, after the theme park reopened on 10 December.

Ardent Leisure shares earlier today traded at $2.10, down from around $2.80 before October's fatal incident on the park's Thunder River Rapids ride.