Ardent's theme park revenue fell 63% after the Dreamworld deaths, and the stock is getting punished

Staff members gather after a private memorial held at Dreamworld on October 28, 2016. Tertius Pickard/Getty Images / File

The crowds haven’t come back to Dreamworld since the fatal accident at the Gold Coast theme park.

Attendance has been weak at Ardent Leisure’s theme parks, including Dreamworld where four people died in October. The park re-opened in December.

The company says revenue from December 10 to 31 was $3.66 million, down 63.0% on the same period in 2015.

Ardent Leisure shares fell more than 5% immediately after the announcement but have recovered some of the losses. A short time ago shares were down 2.2% to $2.19.

Whitewater World and Dreamworld re‐opened on Saturday, December 10, but progressive re‐opening of Dreamworld’s thrill rides during the month hurt attendance and revenues.

However, the company says attendance has steadily increased since Boxing Day.

Across both parks, 29 slides and ride are operational. The last rides, including the Tower of Terror II and the Giant Drop, are scheduled to be back before the end of January. 

The company says “visitation has been more consistent as our ‘Big 9 Thrill Rides’ return to service followingt our independent safety review.

“The park’s last rides (including the Tower of Terror II and the Giant Drop) are scheduled to be back operating before the end of January 2017.”

Ardent added: “Overall guest sentiment has been very positive and we thank our guests, passholders and the broader community for their strong support.”

Thunder River Rapids, the ride where four people died after a raft flipped backwards, has been shut permanently to be replaced with a memorial.

Australia’s first LEGO Certified Store is due to open at Dreamworld by the end of January.

As well as its Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint theme parks, Ardent has AMF and Kingpin Bowling, d’Albora Marinas and Main Event, a portfolio of family entertainment assets in the US.

Main Event revenue was up 35.2% to US$102.1 million in the six months to December. But like-for-like revenue was down 2.9% to US$68 million, impacted by the US election.

The company says strong growth will continue in the second half with seven new centres planned.

Ardent sold its health clubs division, including Fitness First, to Quadrant Private Equity in October for $260 million.

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