COVID pushes Dreamworld to stunning $83m loss
DREAMWORLD'S parent company is hoping a new roller coaster will help it ride out a pandemic spiral which pushed it to a net loss of $83.6 million for the six months to December 31 - almost triple the loss for the same time last financial year.
More than $109 million was slashed from the revenue of Ardent Leisure, which said COVID-19 had hammered a $38.8 million hole in its earnings.
Reporting its half-year result to the ASX, Ardent said revenue from Dreamworld and Whitewater World was down by $23 million due to border restrictions and a shut down that continued until September 16.
The group is hoping its Steel Taipan coaster, which at $32 million is Dreamworld's biggest ever capital investment, will draw enough domestic guests to make up for the indefinite closure of international borders.
Attendance across both Gold Coast theme parks was down 58.6 per cent for the half, with strong sales of annual passes to the local market - up 92 per cent on the previous year - softening a loss of earnings.
Ardent said it had carved $6 million from its costs and received $12.6 million from government subsidies including JobKeeper and Queensland Government support.
The company said pent up demand from interstate was expected to boost its second half, but it was "reviewing the current business model" due to ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 and JobKeeper.
Ardent said news of its $32 million Steel Taipan roller coaster, expected to launch in time for Christmas 2021, had been well received by guests.
The rollercoaster is set to hit a top speed of 105km/h and a G-force of 3.8, with multiple inversions and a spinning gondola at the rear of the train.
It will be the biggest single investment in the theme park's history, and will feature the world's first "spinning gondola".
The results included a $3.6 million fine the company was ordered to pay after it pleaded guilty to three charges over the fatal 2016 Thunder River Rapids tragedy.
Ardent said it planned to "vigorously defend" a shareholder class action over the tragedy, which it said was "without merit".
Revenue for Ardent's Main Event business in the United States was down $US54.4 million and net earnings dived by $27.3 million, also driven by the pandemic.
Originally published as COVID pushes Dreamworld to stunning $83m loss